IRAQ: Gender Profile

Friday, January 1, 2010
Western Asia

Women have played important roles throughout Iraq's history. It was in the early years of secular Baathist socialism and early in Saddam Hussein's rule that women's status and rights were formally enshrined in legislation and treaties. In 1970, a new constitution nominally made Iraqi women and men equal under the law (although family law continued to favour men). Under Saddam Hussein, women's literacy and education improved, and restrictions on women outside the home were lifted. Women won the right to vote and to run for political office, and they could drive, work outside the home and hold jobs traditionally held by men. Before 1991, female literacy rates in Iraq were the highest in the region, Iraq had achieved nearly universal primary education for girls as well as boys, and Iraqi women were widely considered to be among the most educated and professional women in the Arab world.

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