Iraq

Iraq: Constitutional awareness for female civil servants

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BAGHDAD, 13 July (IRIN) - A series of workshops have been held in Iraqi ministries for female employees, aimed at raising awareness of the new constitution, so that they are able to make an informed choice when voting on it in October.

"The workshops aim to help women understand how the drafting of the constitution will take place, explaining the basic fundamental principles: human rights, women's rights, federalism and legislation," director of the ICWRE, Jennan Mubarak, said.

The workshops have been organised by local NGOs, the Iraqi Centre for Women's Rehabilitation and Employment (ICWRE) and the Civil Alliance For Free Elections (CVAFE).

"We are focusing on women because a woman's vote is important and we need to increase awareness of her rights so she can vote correctly," Mubark continued.

There is to be a referendum on the proposed new constitution on 15 October, followed by a general election slated for December. A 55-member committee organised by the transitional government is currently drafting the constitution.

The call for a new respect for women's rights began after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. The new transitional Iraqi government is forging ahead with drafting basic laws ahead of a 15 August deadline.

"Most Iraqi women have no knowledge of their rights under the constitution and this workshop is a good way for us to become more aware," ministry employee, Tagreed Ali, said.

"Before the workshop I knew nothing about the constitution, now I understand many things and I can vote clearly," another government employee, Aseel Hadi said.

A report will be submitted to the national assembly at the end of each workshop containing women's opinions on drafting the constitution and their rights. This will give some 2,400 women a chance to voice their concerns.

[ENDS]

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