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Women in Iraq: Past Meets Present

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Noga Efrati outlines the first social and political history of women in Iraq during the periods of British occupation and the British-backed Hashimite monarchy (1917-1958). She traces the harsh and long-lasting implications of British state building on Iraqi women, particularly their legal and political enshrinement as second-class citizens, and the struggle by women's rig Noga Efrati outlines the first social and political history of women in Iraq during the periods of British occupation and the British-backed Hashimite monarchy (1917-1958). She traces the harsh and long-lasting implications of British state building on Iraqi women, particularly their legal and political enshrinement as second-class citizens, and the struggle by women's rights activists to counter this precedent. Efrati concludes with a discussion of post-Saddam Iraq and the women's associations now claiming their place in government. Finding common threads between these two generations of women, Efrati underscores the organic roots of the current fight for gender equality shaped by a memory of oppression under the monarchy. Efrati revisits the British strategy of efficient rule, largely adopted by the Iraqi government they erected and the consequent gender policy that emerged. The attempt to control Iraq through "authentic leaders"--giving them legal and political powers--marginalized the interests of women and virtually sacrificed their well-being altogether. Iraqi women refused to resign themselves to this fate. From the state's early days, they drew attention to the biases of the Tribal Criminal and Civil Disputes Regulation (TCCDR) and the absence of state intervention in matters of personal status and resisted women's disenfranchisement. Following the coup of 1958, their criticism helped precipitate the dissolution of the TCCDR and the ratification of the Personal Status Law. A new government gender discourse shaped by these past battles arose, yet the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, rather than helping cement women's rights into law, reinstated the British approach. Pressured to secure order and reestablish a pro-Western Iraq, the Americans increasingly turned to the country's "authentic leaders" to maintain control while continuing to marginalize women. Efrati considers Iraqi women's efforts to preserve the progress they have made, utterly defeating the notion that they have been passive witnesses to history.


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Noga Efrati outlines the first social and political history of women in Iraq during the periods of British occupation and the British-backed Hashimite monarchy (1917-1958). She traces the harsh and long-lasting implications of British state building on Iraqi women, particularly their legal and political enshrinement as second-class citizens, and the struggle by women's rig Noga Efrati outlines the first social and political history of women in Iraq during the periods of British occupation and the British-backed Hashimite monarchy (1917-1958). She traces the harsh and long-lasting implications of British state building on Iraqi women, particularly their legal and political enshrinement as second-class citizens, and the struggle by women's rights activists to counter this precedent. Efrati concludes with a discussion of post-Saddam Iraq and the women's associations now claiming their place in government. Finding common threads between these two generations of women, Efrati underscores the organic roots of the current fight for gender equality shaped by a memory of oppression under the monarchy. Efrati revisits the British strategy of efficient rule, largely adopted by the Iraqi government they erected and the consequent gender policy that emerged. The attempt to control Iraq through "authentic leaders"--giving them legal and political powers--marginalized the interests of women and virtually sacrificed their well-being altogether. Iraqi women refused to resign themselves to this fate. From the state's early days, they drew attention to the biases of the Tribal Criminal and Civil Disputes Regulation (TCCDR) and the absence of state intervention in matters of personal status and resisted women's disenfranchisement. Following the coup of 1958, their criticism helped precipitate the dissolution of the TCCDR and the ratification of the Personal Status Law. A new government gender discourse shaped by these past battles arose, yet the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, rather than helping cement women's rights into law, reinstated the British approach. Pressured to secure order and reestablish a pro-Western Iraq, the Americans increasingly turned to the country's "authentic leaders" to maintain control while continuing to marginalize women. Efrati considers Iraqi women's efforts to preserve the progress they have made, utterly defeating the notion that they have been passive witnesses to history.

30 review for Women in Iraq: Past Meets Present

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kavya

    The book is concise and to the point. The epilogue is a short and powerful account of how tribal law has been slowly revived since the US invasion. Historians cannot but draw connections to the present. Women activists have been doing work on the ground for decades and now some random ppl are claiming credit For "liberating" Iraqi women. The book is concise and to the point. The epilogue is a short and powerful account of how tribal law has been slowly revived since the US invasion. Historians cannot but draw connections to the present. Women activists have been doing work on the ground for decades and now some random ppl are claiming credit For "liberating" Iraqi women.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    Most books about Iraqi women tend to cover the last 50 years and start with the overthrow of the pro-british monarchy and the adoption of the 1959 personal status code, one of the most progressive laws in the region. This book covers the British mandate period and ends then, so it fills a lot of gaps. It covers the family law under the british mandate, the british's concentrating of land wealth and propping up tribal sheikhs-in some cases inventing them where none existed-and goes extensively int Most books about Iraqi women tend to cover the last 50 years and start with the overthrow of the pro-british monarchy and the adoption of the 1959 personal status code, one of the most progressive laws in the region. This book covers the British mandate period and ends then, so it fills a lot of gaps. It covers the family law under the british mandate, the british's concentrating of land wealth and propping up tribal sheikhs-in some cases inventing them where none existed-and goes extensively into the legal status of rural women which unfortunately not that many other books do, in this case WRT the two sets of laws given for rural and urban women. It goes into opposition of the laws both by male urban intellectuals and by rural men who thought they were too harsh and disagreed with the punishments the law dictated, while the british dismissed such forms of activism and lobbying as the boredom of lawyers with nothing better to do. The second half of the book deals with the competing narratives of the Iraqi Women's Union-an organization of elite women largely composed of the wives and families of the political class that generally towed the state line, didn't criticize the british, dispensed charity and health services and made policy suggestions that were constantly put on the backburner and were never adopted. The IWU made the problematic argument that women were developed enough to "deserve" political and civil rights. The other narrative was of the communist-affiliated Iraqi Women's League/League in the Defense of Women's Rights who were banned from existing in the 1950s, composed of lower middle class women, advocated for national liberation from imperialism as a part of gaining civil rights and economic independence, and who in the wake of the 1958 overthrow of the monarchy drafted the progressive 1959 personal status code which was the basis of women's civil rights in Iraq afterwards. After the overthrow of the monarchy and the organization's legalization their membership grew to the tens of thousands and became one of the largest organizations in the country. Its head Naziha al-Dulaimi also became minister of public works under the new government. The IWU and IWL narratives are framed as completing the picture since the heads of both groups dismiss each other's work, you can't look at one or the other. BUT the book seems to spend way more time on the IWU narrative than the IWL. Accounts of IWL grassroots activism, which as far as I know was extensive, tended to be very vague while the author can pull exact statistics of the extent and effect of IWU programs. More time was spent analyzing the details of a draft law than was never passed than the 1959 code which WAS made into law. Efrati was not uncritical of either narrative but that imbalance was frustrating, especially since as she mentioned most scholarship focuses on the Ba'th period. The IWL's contribution has been downplayed in Iraq as well as the Ba'th era's discussion of the history of women's rights in Iraq would glorify the IWU narrative and erase IWL's achievements due to their attempts to erase everything to do with the Communist Party. I'm reading this book out of personal interest and not as a scholar but despite those reservations what info was there was obviously really helpful and valuable.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sylvan

  4. 5 out of 5

    Serah

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hanan

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gala

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rima

  8. 4 out of 5

    Henry Street Editing

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  10. 4 out of 5

    Reemah

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Avocado

  12. 5 out of 5

    Yalda

  13. 4 out of 5

    Grace

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marie Watt

  15. 4 out of 5

    S.Pichai

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacky

  17. 4 out of 5

    kirby

  18. 4 out of 5

    عمر الرفاعي

  19. 5 out of 5

    Isabella

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marylyle Mccue

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alaq

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fékirinho

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mariam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erum Dahar

  25. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Suliman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mahrukh Ahmed

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arkan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nahid Dolatshahi Piroz

  30. 5 out of 5

    عبدالمناف عبد أبوطالب

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