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THE POWER OF WOMEN IN THE 21ST CENTURY Interview with H.E. Ms. Lina Omar

H.E. Lna Omar is currently the Ambassador of the republic of Iraq to Bulgaria, Sofia and Albania, Former Minister Plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Baghdad, Iraq with an experience of more than 20 years in diplomacy and government.

She is on a mission to empower women to service better in their duets as her believe education is the soul of developing any society.

Mrs. Omar was one of the members of the first delegation of 20 Iraqi women in Washington, D.C., for the conference “Building a New Iraq: Women’s Role in Reconstruction" hosted by Wilson Center. She was recognized as one of “The Top Iraqi Women Leaders for Democracy, Women’s Rights, and Religious Freedom in Iraq” by the Independent Women’s Forum in Washington DC. USA in 2003.

Mrs. Omar is an active advocate to promote the important changing role of women in the new era of peace and democracy in the world. She has lectured and delivered speeches to national and international audiences about the constitutional and security issues women face in the region.

She has been quoted as an authority on these topics by The Washington Post, The Washington Times and participated in TV discussions on the future of Iraq and the middle east.

The Power of Women in Diplomacy

Your Excellences as a Female UN Representative could you describe your profession – the duties, challenges, and perspectives… And the power of cultural dialog in the Diplomacy in 21st century...

Diplomacy in my opinion is one of the important ways to bring “Peach to the world”

Women today are creative in all fields without exception, and diplomacy is one of those fields in which women have achieved remarkable successes by representing their countries at international forums and carrying out the diplomatic tasks professionally. For example, women diplomats played an essential role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 21century!

However, the Challenges, women still suffer the deep-rooted legacies of sexism, which hinder their professional advancement and obscure their contributions and achievements.

I believe "cultural diplomacy is the soul of a nations", It is a way to achieve rapprochement/ conciliation among all peoples to spread global peace and security and banish the specter of wars, political differences and crises!

The purpose of cultural diplomacy is for the people of a foreign nation to develop an understanding of the nation's ideals and institutions in an effort to build broad support for economic and political goals in their countries.

The Power of Women in Politics

According the “Women in politics: 2021” map, created by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women, despite increases in the number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist: progression in women holding ministerial portfolios has slowed, with just a small increase to from 21.3 per cent in 2020 to 21.9 per cent in 2021; the number of countries with no women in government has increased; and only 25.5 per cent of national parliamentarians are women, compared to 24.9 per cent the year before. Could Your Excellences share some positive trends of women empowerment in politics in your countries?

It’s women’s right to participate in political decision-making, it is based on the idea that women are not a minority: they represent more than half of humanity, democracy implies the equal representation of women and men in decision-making positions, without this representation of women nations will be continuously week in every sector.

It will take a long time to talk about this topic, but allow me to introduce you the stages of development of Iraqi women in the political process after 2003, according to the quota system approved by the Iraqi constitution. Women occupy no less than 25% (83 seats) of the total number of seats. The Iraqi parliament has (329 seats), which were approved in 4 previous parliamentary sessions, and this percentage is constantly increasing after many female candidates were able to get votes outside the quota. For example, the last elections which were held in 2021, 33 women won the first ranks in their constituencies in 13 Iraqi governorates, which indicates the great confidence that women have in Iraq, as they won 30%, i.e. 97 seats in the Iraqi parliament in its current session. In 2020, Iraq ranked 70th in the world in terms of women representation in parliament.

There is an urgent need for women to gain more political freedoms needed to improve their status and dealing with the issues that affect them. conclude serious reforms aimed at overcoming obstacles that prevent the effective and meaningful participation of women in leadership positions.

Inequality does not have a close relationship with the number of women in the legislative and executive branches as much as it has with the culture, customs and traditions of that people in general, which requires changing societal norms and practices that negatively affect women and adopting pro-women legislation that would allow them to address issues of concern to them in a manner such as domestic violence, discrimination at work, etc.

It is worth noting that the media plays an important role by contributing to the community awareness of the importance of women’s role and highlight their potential at political, economic and social levels in order to produce a society that realizes that differences do not exist between men and women, and the real difference is what relates to performance only.

I believe first reason is lack of governmental support to include more women in the leadership positions. Second, I desire to practice self-criticism to correct mistakes and diagnose imbalances, part of which is the responsibility of the woman herself. Some women still think of traditional methods as well as easy solutions, and we need to Extensive awareness campaigns and the launch of special training programs for women’s empowerment the art of leadership and management to be ready to assume high positions with high efficiency and based on sound scientific foundations.

Empowerment as a mechanism for advancing womens participation should not be limited to building and developing skills, but also include the adoption of policies and institutional and legal structures that prevent inequality and combat discrimination. This analysis proceeded to shed light on the quota system, which did not succeed in overcoming the hidden gaps within the public structures and because the quota mechanism is limited to mere numbers and ratios, and the matter did not reach realization of its role in bringing about change at the level of qualitative indicators. Therefore, the women who reached parliament represent the opinions of the political blocs to which they belong, and they did not succeed in representing the demands of Iraqi women or pushing for public policies that serve women. As a result, the quota system did not succeed in producing female political leaders who would integrate womens issues into public issues.

The Power of Women in business

Women in business: advantages, challenges, and opportunities! Your Excellencies would you summarize this topic regarding the situation in your country?

The role of Iraqi women in the field of business and trade has witnessed a remarkable development in the recent years, especially at the level of establishing small and medium enterprises, and this is what we consider a positive development and a step forward. The vital field is still shy and below the level of ambition, because business is not devoid of risk and high capital risk, which leads women to fear taking risks in an unstable economic environment so far. Therefore, we need more government and media educational support, as well as family encouragement and support.

The Power of Women in Science

According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics data, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay observed that “even today, in the 21st century, women and girls are being sidelined in science-related fields due to their gender”. How can we indeed reduce the gender gap in science?

Despite the good percentages that women have reached in Iraq at thelevel of university education, which is approximately 49% compared to men, and these percentages came after many amendments to law and legislation, the establishment of new universities, whether governmental or private, and the improvement of the security situation, so that the Iraqi family is not afraid to send their daughters go to universities, but the percentage of women in schools remained much lower due to the cases of girls leaving schools and sitting at home for many reasons, including early marriage or to work to support their family’s.

The Iraqi government has been keen to develop a new policy, with varying degrees, aimed at providing opportunities for women to gain access to official institutions and important sectors such as education, health, vocational training centers, etc., but it faced the fact that empowerment is not just technical measures, but also a process of changing the culture of discrimination. And building culture, parity, and equality in all its value, psychological, and legal dimensions, and that empowerment is a process that goes beyond being a training or technical qualification process, just as the increase in spending on education does not mean anything, if the education programs themselves encourage discrimination and inequality, and Iraq has spent and is still spending a lot on education and health and issued many developed laws, but it still faces cultural dimensions of these achievements, so we expect more international support to help Iraq overcome these obstacles.

The Power of Women in Sport

Regarding the Sustainability Strategy of IOC “fostering gender equality and strengthening women`s empowerment in and through sport is also at the core of the mission of IOC.” Could you share with us the engagement of the women in your countries in the sports movement?

Iraqi women today are no longer imprisoned in the house. They continue to obtain education in order to contribute to building their country and contribute to various social activities. However, one of the problems that women suffer from is their practice of sports activity. Some view sports women as narrow, so sports women still suffer. Difficulties, obstacles, and factors that limit the development of women’s sports levels. One of the most prominent factors that led to the low level of women’s sports are social factors, where the narrow social view still remains, and many families still prevent their daughters from practicing sports, in addition to customs and traditions that do not encourage women’s practice of sports, and there are subjective reasons It is represented in the unwillingness and inclination of some women to practice sports for personal reasons, including shyness and fear of failure.

The Iraqi government is now seeking to raise the level of womens sports through scientific planning. The goal of planning is to program women’s sports activities and events in order to achieve the best results in the short term with least effort and costs. Preparing specialized cadres to prepare womens sports teams and qualifying these cadres through organizing and holding training courses. Preparing and providing appropriate sports arenas and stadiums in which the natural conditions are available for women to practice sports activities in addition to providing sports teams with tools and equipment and material and moral support for schools, trainers and players and rewarding the distinguished ones, as well as the role of the family, parents, school, institute, college and society in general in seeking women to practice activities and embodying the role of means multiple and different media, especially the press, television, radio and magazines, in addition to the role of institutions, clubs and federations, especially institutes, universities, colleges and departments of physical education in spreading women’s sports culture and in the light of direct supervision and guidance from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Olympic Committee as the official bodies responsible for sports in Iraq. It is no secret that successive Iraqi governments has been preoccupied with the issue of establishing modern sports infrastructure in the past years, including stadiums, clubs and sport facilities equipped to accommodate international and regional tournaments, such as the recent Gulf Championship in Basra, for the purpose of promoting Iraqi sports, including womens sports.

Trust and believe in yourself.

If you want something really go for it!

Nothing is impossible just put your head and your energy to make it.


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