ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistani Women in Media in an open letter to the President of the autonomous Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister-designate Masrour Barzani call on them “to stand with their promise to continue to tackle gender inequality and improve women’s rights.”
The letter comes as Kurdish leaders continue to negotiate to form the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet in the coming weeks.
“We are asking for the protection of women in the media and the arts in general. We are asking the KRG to investigate and hold media officials accountable for gender-based misconduct, and to help set standards and rules,” the letter reads, signed by over 60 Kurdistani and Kurdistani-friendly female TV presenters, writers, journalists, photojournalists, bloggers, models, singers, and actresses.
The letter also asks the international community and organizations such as UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, and non-governmental organizations to increase their support for the KRG in developing better policies for female journalists, actors, singers, and TV hosts.
“Too many of us have faced sexual harassment, misconduct, defamation, blackmail, and threats against our lives.”
The initiative was spearheaded by #FemaleVoicesoftheWorld founder Dashni Morad and supported by a wide range of women such as Hana Jaff, Sazan Amin, and Lourd Hanna, who added their voice by signing the letter. The letter was written by Peri-Khan Aqrawi-Whitcomb, who is an adviser to #FemaleVoicesoftheWorld.
It also mentions that they can no longer remain silent and joined forces to make sure their voices are heard and practical measures are taken to improve gender equality and women’s rights.
“Change is needed, and for that to happen, words do not suffice. We need healthy institutions that thrive because of more equality in numbers and positions for women. For as long as women do not play an equal role on different levels in the Kurdish society, these wrongs will never be eliminated,” the letter continued.
“It is with our utmost conviction dear President and Prime Minister that you not only have the power to help change the status quo, but also share with us a progressive world view of a just society, where women and men have equal opportunities and are protected from any form of discrimination, because of gender, race or religious background.”
While gender inequality continues to exist in the Kurdistan Region, data shows women’s rights and affairs have considerably improved in the region compared to the rest of Iraq.
On Feb. 18, the Kurdistan Region elected three members of Parliament leadership, two of which were female, including Speaker Vala Fareed, the first woman to hold the post since its establishment in 1992.
Currently, the quota system requires 30 percent of lawmakers in the Kurdistan Parliament to be women. Female representatives are pushing to secure the same percentage in the allotment of KRG posts.
The full text of the letter is available here.
Editing by Nadia Riva