Women for Women ??????

Women for Women did not do the survey below - they "released" it whatever that means. If they had done it I am sure the results would have been much different. I wrote to this organization several times protesting their opposition to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq when they presumed to speak for Iraqi women; protesting their refusal to speak in this country to gain support for the invasion while at the same time grabbing every last dime of grant money they possibly could. They wanted the money to supposedly to "help" the woman they did not want the US to liberate from Saddam.

Someone finally asked the Iraqi women what THEY wanted and SURPRISE.

I am very suspicious of this group "Women for Women" and would like to see proof that they use the funds they get to help women. Despite their claim to have been in Iraq since 2003, their office for Iraq in the U.S. had NO staff 6 months ago. They refused to acknowledge a US organizer of women who was killed in Iraq. The only thing they produced was press releases against the U.S. invasion.

They could be working with any of many shadows including our own; they could have their reasons but they do not smell right. On the other hand, the smells from Iraq are faint, confused and come a long way so after this, their latest press release, I have decided to hold my breath and watch them. They do not answer my e-mails and are totally unaccountable to US citizens so the only thing to do is to contact their funding sources to demand accountability. Of course they do not disclose who their funding sources are but a good guess is USAID. Read the "release" and see what you think.

First Post-War Survey of Iraqi Women Shows Women Want Legal Rights;

Dispels Notions That Women Believe Tradition, Culture Should Limit Their Participation in Government
Women for Women International
January 7th, 2005

Despite Violence, More than 90% of Iraqi Women Are Optimistic About The Future.
But New Government Could Open or Close Windows of Opportunity, Women for Women International Warns.
The first survey of Iraqi women since the outbreak of the war was released today by Women for Women International, one of the few non-governmental organizations remaining in Baghdad.
The groundbreaking survey paints a vivid and even surprising portrait of Iraqi women in transition and dispels the prevailing notion that women believe tradition, customs or religion should limit their participation in the formation of a new Iraqi government.

The results of the survey of 1,000 Iraqi women in Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra, major political and commercial centers in Iraq, was unveiled in a report entitled “Windows of Opportunity: The Pursuit of Gender Equality in Post-War Iraq.”

Among the key results:•
94% of women surveyed want to secure legal rights for women.•
84% of women want the right to vote on the final constitution.•
Nearly 80% of women believe that their participation in local and national councils should not be limited.

“History has shown that when women play a role in the formation of new governments, those nations are more stable and more successful in the long run,” said Women for Women International’s founder and CEO Zainab Salbi. “Many Iraqi leaders have claimed that women do not want to be involved in the reconstruction process. This survey clearly shows that women overwhelmingly believe they should have a seat at the table.”

The most unexpected result of the survey is that despite increasing violence, particularly violence against women, 90.6% of Iraqi women reported that they are hopeful about their future. (This of course should have been the headline and is the big news from the survey)

In recent months, many women who have been involved with the reconstruction efforts or women’s rights work have been kidnapped and murdered. Among those murdered included Zeena Al Qushtaini, an Iraqi businesswoman known for wearing western clothing, who was kidnapped and executed.
Her body was found clad in a traditional headscarf, which she refused to wear when she was alive.
In December, Wijdan al-Khuzai, a candidate in the Iraqi election, was also murdered near her house in Baghdad.
(Greenconsciousness Notes: I believe these women are murdered by the usual thugs and then dressed to look as though they have been murdered by fundamentalist. This helps keep Sunni women firmly on the side of their terrorist insurgent uncle and fathers. It is hope that this will lead to civil war which is an insurgent goal. One of the myths of the left is that women in Iraq were free under Saddam and are now threatened by the Shi'a. Yes, women's freedom is threatened by Shari'a law but they were never free under Saddam. Sunni women enjoyed privilege under Saddam which is not the same as freedom. Even Sunni women did not benefit from Saddam's favoritism over the last five years of Saddam's mosque building years. Both in Iraq and Afghanistan (before the Taliban) the "freedom" of women was limited to the Pashtuns and the Sunni tribe. In order for women to understand this so called freedom and the contradictory positions of expatriate women you must understand the tribal and clan system. Expatriates put loyalty to tribe and clan over the countries greater good. You must understand this. I reject the Mother Teresa attitude of we must listen to them and give them what they want. They have been taught to want privilege for themselves and slavery for those from other clans and religions. Be a change agent not one who reinforces oppressive traditional prejudices. Support democracy not theocracy and tribalism.)

“Women make up more than half the population of Iraq. This makes them enormously influential, both for the election this month and for Iraq’s future,” said Manal Omar, who has been Women for Women International’s Country Director in Iraq, since the organization established offices there in July 2003.

“The new Iraqi government must act quickly to ensure their rights today and secure their hope for the future. If women continue to be excluded from the new government and lose hope for the future, then the window of opportunity for women in Iraq – and hope for the country itself – closes.”(GR: Well this is sure true and I hope US feminists hear this statement for they have betrayed their middle east sisters by their refusal to support this war and attempt to influence the direction and scope of the reconstruction efforts post-war - how they dare call themselves feminists after this massive cop-out, I cannot understand)

To date, women have not played an active role in the new Iraqi governing bodies.
Only three women have been appointed to the 25-member Interim Iraqi Governing Council, and the three women on the Council did not have the right to serve on the Presidential Council.

No women were appointed to be governors of 18 provinces in Iraq nor were any women appointed to a committee overseeing the drafting of the new Iraqi constitution.

Women for Women International warned, however, that the survey showed that more than twice as many women believed that religious institutions had done something to improve their lives in the past year (13%) than those who believed the government had done so (6%).

“Women’s voting power but lack of muscle as elected officials in the current governing bodies leave them vulnerable in Iraq today,” said Salbi.

“Too often women turn in desperation to extremist religious groups for help despite the long-term sacrifice of personal freedoms. These groups have historically been able to gain support when they can offer basic services normally provided by a government.”

Salbi pointed to The Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the West Bank and the occupied territories, and the Taliban in Afghanistan as examples of this trend.

The survey, conducted by Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (CSSR), randomly sampled women in three geographic areas in order to represent the views of Iraqi women across different educational, economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. The sample size was 1,000 women and covered seven cities in three governorates, Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra.

The standardized questionnaire was administered by women researchers in face-to-face interviews with the female heads of household. The survey contained 35 questions that covered the respondents’ demographic information as well as their perceptions on access to medical care, education, and economic and political participation in the past year.

Women for Women International was founded in 1993 to help women overcome the horrors of war and civil strife in ways that can help them rebuild their lives, families, and communities.

Its Iraq program has provided services to nearly 800 women from Baghdad, Hillah and Karbala, and works with organizations and Iraqi governing bodies to address the needs of Iraqi women at the leadership and grassroots levels. (GR: The real question is what kind of help and how much money did they get to do it and from who?)
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Women for Women International (WWI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty into self-sufficiency and stability.
WWI’s tiered program begins with
direct financial and emotional support;
fosters awareness and understanding of women’s rights;
offers vocational skills training;
and provides access to income-generation support
and microcredit loans that together can help women restart their lives in ways that are independent, productive, and secure. (GR: Sounds good - where is the proof?)


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