Iraqi women seeking equality in peace as in war

Iraqi women seeking equality in peace as in war

SULAYMANIYAH - Hürriyet Daily News
Iraqi women seeking equality in peace as in war

Members of Iraq’s Electoral Commission count votes in local polls. Women could play a key role in the country to ‘heal’ the wounds, activists say. AFP photo

“As a nation which suffered oppression, we have waited for years to raise our voice and to hear others. We gained our freedom after the 1991 uprising. Only then did our voices, colors become visible. And we welcome all sorts of races, colors.”

Those are what Dr. Nezaket Hussein of Sulaymaniyah University said over the weekend at the Women Journalists’ Workshop which was organized by the Medialog Platform and the Kurdistan Journalists’ Union in Sulaymaniyah, where female journalists from Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan gathered in order to discuss the media’s role in societal peace, the language of the media, freedom and women in the media.

Women could heal regions’ wounds

Women could take a crucial role in contributing to healing wounds in the region, Tercan Ali Baştürk, president of the Medialog Platform, said as he delivered an opening speech before giving the floor to Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish colleagues for an opportunity to better understand each other’s vision of their professions and develop empathy.

Iraqi Kurdish journalists revealed their pride in winning freedom after years of sorrow under the difficult rule of deposed and executed President Saddam Hussein. Iraqi Kurds have been building their national identity atop the foundations of this sorrow, and they often refer to the Halabja massacre, which cost the lives of nearly 5,000 people in 1988 in what is thought to be the world’s deadliest-ever chemical attack against civilians.

Iraqi Kurdish women are proud of having assumed a role as Peshmarga in the fight against Saddam, and they hope to achieve the same equal role with men within society in peacetime as much as they had in wartime.

One of the Iraqi Kurdish journalists complained about not being able to travel abroad because they have not been allowed, while another drew attention to the responsibilities of familial duties that come before any Iraqi woman’s career.

“If the media is still reporting with an ideological purpose, it means that peace and democracy has not been achieved yet,” Hussein said.

She highlighted the lack of plurality within the media in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), underlining the prevalence of “ideological reporting by the media of political parties and by media connected to the government.”

Such an understanding of journalism puts ideas into a straitjacket, and some opinions cannot find any outlet to be voiced, said Hussein.

“We need a modern media, a media for all, a media which will embrace everyone. Otherwise, some groups and circles will not find a place in the media,” she said.