ERBIL – Women activists say women participation in the government positions should be equal to their participation in the parliament of Kurdistan Region – 25 percent – as the region prepares for a cabinet reshuffle as part of a political deal between the two main ruling parties.
The current Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) submitted a letter of resignation to the President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani earlier this week and was approved by the President.
Nechirvan Barzani, a former KRG PM and nephew of the regional President from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has been officially put forward by the KDP to head the new government and name his cabinet. Barzani, however, has not been officially charged by the President with forming the new cabinet.
The two parties have a "strategic Agreement" under which the two parties entered elections over the past 10 years and shared positions 50-50. The agreement also states that each party heads the government for two years during each electoral term.
Vian Sleman, secretary of Kurdistan Women's Union (KWU) told AKnews that "Women activists deem it the women's rights that in the next cabinet a number of the senior positions be give to women. And a formal request has been sent to Nechirvan Barzani for the purpose as well"
The women activists have called on Barzani to guarantee a 25% quota for women in his cabinet that is expected to be formed soon.
"Women are as educated as men and can manage the positions. We want not only some ministerial portfolios for women, but also other positions like undersecretaries, director generals, deputy ministers and governors also be given to women candidates" said Sleman.
In the outgoing KRG cabinet there is only one woman minister; the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Asos Najib Abdullah, in a 19-ministry cabinet.
Runak Faraj, a woman activist told AKnews that "we have to make efforts to bring this number to two at least women ministers"
She said women had to be part of the decision-making in the semi-autonomous region, therefore "it is not enough to secure 25% of the positions for women, but also think of whom to place in those positions."
According to Faraj, the women candidates have to be chosen based on their qualifications, "women who think like women and can give women a better image so that they can obtain the trust of the society"
The call for the 25% share was also sported by the High Council of Women's Affairs (HCWA) in the region.
Pakhsahn Zangana, Secretary of the HCWA said: "It is true that there are women in the government institutions, but they are not seen as decision-makers and prominent figures in the political arena and leadership"
By Rebin Zangana