On 8 March 2017, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), through its Integrated Coordination Office for Development and Humanitarian Affairs (ICODHA) and in collaboration with the United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes, partnered with representatives from the local government offices in Thi-Qar governorate, NGOs and civil society to mark International Women’s Day. The event was held at the Martyrdom building in Chibayish – Thir-Qar Marshlands area – under the theme “Promoting Decent Work for Iraqi Women, United Nations celebrate Marshlands Women, Marshlands Women in the World Heritage”.
The event aimed to celebrate and highlight the achievements of Marshland women and the accession of the Marshlands to UNESCO’s world heritage status. With this designation, not only will the women of the Marshlands benefit from such a move but equally all local communities who live and depend on the marshes for survival. Empowering the women of the marshlands influences and brings greater equality; provides means to encourage women in the workforce, but also to promotes ending poverty by enabling increased access to means of production and sustainable use of the Marshlands resources within the limits of established biodiversity and ecological standards that transforms and leads to better economic status of Marshland communities.
Over 300 attendees, including representatives from the local government, the United Nations (UN), local and international NGOs, environmental activists, and civil society groups graced the occasion. Activities on the day included speeches, a documentary film, health awareness lecture, poetry promoting women, artwork by children, photo gallery, sport games, traditional craft bazaar and a musical performance by children. In addition, outstanding marshland women were honoured with gifts.
The highlight of the day was a boat tour of the Marshlands which showcased the reality of the daily routine of women of the Marshlands area. A visit to the traditional guest house - Al-Madeef - where the tribal conflicts used to be solved; a venue at which women’s rights were disregarded – was included in the day’s activities to illustrate the importance of respect for women rights in all aspects of life.
Women in the Southern Provinces, more particularly in the marshes and vulnerable areas of Thi-Qar, Muthanna, Missan and Basra, are highly neglected and marginalized. The Marshland women took the lead, with UNAMI ICODHA, the World Food Programme and other UN and non-UN Agencies, to host International Women’s Day and to fill the gap to advocate on women’s behalf.
(By Asmaa Nassir, UNAMI ICODHA)