Iraq election: a victory for women

Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post reports some facts which may ease fears that post-election Iraq is on a straight and fast road to female subjugation under strict Islamist law.

Nearly one-third of the 140 winning candidates on the Shiite parliamentary list are women. Moreover, those 45 women from the list supported by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani tend to be more educated, better informed and more committed to change than are their male counterparts, who include a number of political hacks.

And of the 275 members elected to the National Council, Hoagland adds, a full 31 percent are women. (By comparison less than 15 percent of US Congress members are women.)

Does anyone think these women will stand aside and allow their male colleagues to implement laws turning them and their mothers, sisters and daughters into second-class citizens?

Hoagland wonders why President Bush has not heralded these remarkable results.

He also questions why Western feminists have not celebrated them either.

…Could they not want to accept even implicitly the notion that war can create the conditions needed for a positive social revolution?

That revolution ultimately is even more important to transforming the Middle East than is U.S. military might or European diplomacy. There will be no democracy in the greater Middle East until women break through the crippling restrictions and humiliations imposed on them by Arab cultural chauvinism and widespread, if perverse, interpretations of Islamic faith.
“The fact is, the women candidates had to be competent to get on the list. They met higher standards,” said Nabil Musawa, a campaign strategist for the Iraqi National Congress. The example they have set, and will continue to provide, cannot be lost on Arab women at large.