Nechirvan Barzani: 'We must help women to shape their own futures in our country'

From a speech by the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan regional government, Iraq, to the Kurdish International Women's Conference in Stockholm
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In Kurdistan, we are heading toward major changes in all aspects of our life. Women's issues will be a considerable part of these changes. Our major task will be to what degree we prepare ourselves for these ensuing changes.

In Kurdistan, we are heading toward major changes in all aspects of our life. Women's issues will be a considerable part of these changes. Our major task will be to what degree we prepare ourselves for these ensuing changes.

In the past, political decisions affecting our survival or death, reconstruction or destruction, were taken by our occupiers. Our women suffered most in facing difficulties, fleeing, having great burdensand sorrow. Now we are at the beginning of a phase in which Kurdish and Kurdistani forces will have direct responsibility for political decisions.

In the years to come, all in Kurdistan will need to think along new lines. We need a new thinking which will correspond to our contemporary situation, which is possible to implement and can stand multiple challenges, and which is most beneficial for Kurdistan's women. We need a thinking that is far from extremism; a thinking that does not simultaneously attack everyone.

I think we should investigate in a scientific manner the reasons behind the backwardness of women in Kurdistani society in order to know which factors affect negatively women's political, social and economic situation in Kurdistan. If decision-makers in Kurdistan acquire adequate knowledge and expertise, political and administrative reform will be better secured. Then it will be the duty of the government to prepare programmes, so that active women will be enabled to shape their own future and the future of their families, and the families of our martyrs.

We must learn how to proceed to increase the percentage of women in decision-making positions; how to change our laws in ways that correspond to our new conditions to democratise Kurdistan; how to strengthen the position of women within the family in their decisions regarding education, marriage, childbirth, and political, economic and social activities. For these, and many other activities, women's organisations in Kurdistan do not need to learn positive and negative lessons only from our neighbours. Countries far from us can facilitate our task.

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