HDI, Gender Gap Index, Gender Parity Index: None incorporate Iraqi women’s conflict management efforts

The answer is ‘False’. By 1979, Iraq represented the most educated population in the ‘pita-consuming’ region. According to a study by , the illiteracy rate among Iraqi women dropped from 91 percent in 1957 to an astounding 12 percent in 1990. However, by 2003, three wars, over a decade of sanctions, and continuous bombing of infrastructural facilities, led to a decrease in Iraq’s Human Development Index. Unfortunately, within one generation, women’s illiteracy rates reverted back to over 30 percent in 1997. The most striking statistic: in 2007, Iraqi women’s illiteracy rate (and unemployment rate) skyrocketed to nearly 50 percent in most Iraqi Governates.

In addition to the Human Development Index, other sources of reviewing the social and economic impact of gender on an economy include the following:
1) The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development compiles the Social Institutions and Gender Index.
2) The World Economic Forum compiles the Global Gender Gap Index.
3) The United Nations‘ Millennium Development Goals track the Gender Parity Index.
Overall, none of these key indices incorporate women’s conflict management role, participation, or success as highlighted in the piece below regarding post-conflict Iraq previously published by Altmuslimah e-magazine.


“Violence emanates from the man, so we have to have projects that make him aware of this circumstance,” said Zainab Sadeq Jaffer, an Iraqi human rights attorney who presented at the US Institute for Peace Conference entitled “Women Fighting for Peace”. Others may argue that violence is not a gendered concept, but in a post-conflict country such as Iraq addressing specific trends in aggressive behavior has become vital.

Gender violence in conflict zones can stem from a multitude of factors – societal customs, ideologies, stress, as well as government and non-government actors participating in the conflict. As a result, Iraq has seen an increase in the rate of domestic violence during periods of recession and war. Post-conflict Iraq does not represent only a society of war victims. Iraq experienced repression by an authoritarian regime, in which “low-grade” conflict pushed both men and women to take out their aggression on one another in a “battle of the sexes.”

During Iraq’s authoritarian rule, Iraqi civilians had to enlist in the military for three armed conflicts, which introduced an aggressive culture as men militarized to survive. The first was the Iraq-Iran War, which claimed over 260,000 Iraqi lives, according to the Global Security Report. The second was the 1990-91 Gulf war, which claimed over 250,000 Iraqi lives. The third instance of institutionalized violence required Iraq’s military in the second US led invasion. Additionally, between 1979 and 2003, Saddam Hussein’s rule imposed another layer of violence through torture, random execution, rape, and persecution of minorities – both women and men. Even after Hussein lost power conflict erupted on another macro-scale as Iraqi soldiers and policemen, trained for aggression, were left with few outlets to reengage in civil society. Consequently, unemployment skyrocketed as the remaining soldiers returned home. Click here to continue…

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