During March, ACDI/VOCA, in coordination with 21 Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners in Dahuk, Diyala, Erbil, Kirkuk, Ninawa, Salah ad Din and Sulaymaniyah provinces hosted ten events in recognition of International Women’s Day which took place on March 8. The events aimed to express solidarity with the global community struggling for women’s equality as well as provide an opportunity to display the achievements and ongoing work of ACDI/VOCA’s partner CSOs that are working towards women’s empowerment and development. In total, 550 people participated in the events which were held throughout the month of March. The participants represented a range of civil society groups and organisations, local, provincial, regional and national government, activists, academia, artists, students, private sector institutions, and communities. The keynote speakers at the events talked about the BPCS focus on gender equality, enhancing the role of women in the community, the issues and challenges faced by women in society (globally as well as in Iraq), and the challenges women face in participating in political life and decision-making processes that affect their lives and those of other community members. Each celebration also included presentations from female community activists who talked about their lives, achievements, and how they support and encourage women to take a greater role in society. Many of the activists were presented with awards by ACDI/VOCA in recognition of the formative role they have played in Iraqi society.
With media coverage across the events from domestic and satellite television channels, radio stations, print and online media, the International Women’s Day events had very positive outcomes for the attendees themselves, with potentially longer term impacts on women in Iraq and in the communities in which they were conducted, for example:
- Creation of awareness of women’s human rights and gender equality among community members, CSO partners, local and provincial government representatives and academia;
- Increased awareness of the challenges faced by women, particularly disadvantaged women;
- Improved CSO partner capacity to advocate for gender equality through preparation and presentation of public outreach materials;
- Improved public, civil society and political awareness of gender equality issues and a renewed commitment to achieving gender equality goals among stakeholders.
These events concluded with open discussions and recommendations for action among participants on key issues to be addressed to improve the role of women in Iraq.