Kurdish women in Iraq have faced years of challenges, some decades with more successes and some decades with setbacks to their progress. The first journal for Kurdish women, (Women Voice, Dengi Afaret), was published in 1953, which featured women writers and was the part of the first organized wave of Kurdish feminism.
After the fall of the monarchy in 1958, civil reform to end honour killing and make marriage a matter of civil law was achieved through a lobbying campaign by the Kurdistan Womens Union. Since Kurdish people in general are subject to illiteracy as means of oppression, the publishing of journals and the encouragement of people to learn how to read them is an act of resistance.
Increasing Rights, But Still Lagging Behind
Many argue that the women’s movement gained significant momentum after the first Gulf War in 1991. With the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) becoming an economic hub and gaining much autonomy from the rest of Iraq, Kurdish women have benefited from this increase in stability. Still, Kurdish women are victims of honor killings, female genintal mutilation, forced marriages, and higher rates of domestic violence and suicide. During the Anfal genocide inflicted by Saddam Hussein in the late 1980’s, many Kurdish women were kept in concentration camps and rape was used as torture. In 2003, Kurdish women joined Iraqi women to establish a quota system in Iraqi parliament, government, and political parties, achieving a 25% seat rate for women.