2003 IRQ: A Preliminary Study on the Impact of Sanctions and War on Iraqi Women's Health, Social, Cultural and Educational Life
Author: General Federation of Iraqi Women
UNICEF, in collaboration with UNIFEM and UNDP, were planning to implement a nation-wide survey to highlight the situation of women in Iraq; this study was done primarily to gather all available, relevant data and diagnose gaps of available information to be focused on the national survey.Purpose/Objective:
A specialized team from GFIW, supported by members of the central statistical organization, conducted a desk review of reports and studies carried out over the past years, released by MOH, CSO, and other organizations, a study conducted by the General Federation of Iraqi Women on Martyrs Wives, as well as records of consultative clinics affiliate of the General Federation of Iraqi Women in 2001.
Findings and Conclusions:
- Women constitute 50.2% of the total population, and the annual growth of the population from 1987-1997 reached the ratio of 3%. The rate of illiteracy among females has declined from 91.8% in 1957, to 70.7% in 1977, and then to 34.5% in 1987 and to 12% in 1990. However, it returned to 30.9% in 1997.
- The rate of old-aged females, 65 years old and above, decreased from 3.7% in 1990, to 3.6% in 1998.
- The rate of females joining secondary and vocational schools reached 24.8% in 1997 and 35.2% in 1987, then it retreated to 34.1% in 1990, and to 31% in 2000.
- The participation of women in the work force constituted 40.3% in 1999, where it was 34.6% in 1990.
- Women represent a rate that exceeds 60% of the total workers of the public sector, in the fields of health, governmental management and teaching.
- The number of female teachers and instructors in the teaching system reached 39.6% in 1977 from the total of the teaching and instructing staff, then it became 61.1% in 1987, 66.9% in 1990, and 65.2% in 2000.
- Economic problems occupy the first rank of the problems claimed by women attending the consultative and legal centres of GFIW, constituting 61% of the problems.
Welfare grants, divorce problems, familial problems and custody issues represented the 4 main social problems that women complain of, in sequence.
- Breast cancer has increased significantly during the years 1988-2000; the figures increased from 646 to 1231 respectively; 36% of such cases were in younger-age groups of below 35 years.
- Maternal mortality in 1999 was 294/100,000 live births, where it was 117/100000 in 1990.
It was found that 51% of women were suffering from anaemia, 31.7% of married women had a miscarriage, 9.6% had one stillborn, 5.1% had more than one stillborn, and 1.7% were disabled.
- The rate of women working in the mass media increased, where the number of female journalists in the union for journalists reached 200 women, representing 5.7%. It was also noted that 50% of the total students of the Department of Information are females.
Previous 3 wars and 13 years of sanction have adversely affected Iraqi women in all developmental aspects; hence, intensive human rights approach programs should be focused during the coming years.
The high illiteracy percentage among women necessitates more communication strategies for Girls' Education at all levels, starting from family and ending with authorities.
Multi-sectoral national plans involving all relevant ministries, civil society and women NGOs for the improvement of women's conditions should be promoted and established.
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