Women in Kurdish Politics: Competition

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Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has one female minister. 

Why do Kurdish women compete against each other instead of trying to work collaboratively to achieve political goals? Kurdish women, like their male counterparts, seek to advance their careers more so than working collaboratively.

According to Pierre Bourdieu, one of the reasons injustice against women continues to thrive is because they often try to improve their status within their communities and/or groups (1). When we look at female activists and politicians throughout the region, it becomes evident that they, despite first appearances, often work to make their careers more prominent and fruitful without considering the bigger picture. In this instance, the bigger picture being advancing the socio-political status of Kurdish women.

In the past, the former Iraqi government, led by the Baathist party opened many avenues for women. This included increasing education opportunities and maximizing working possibilities for women. However, this was done as a means of controlling women and the population. They were perceived to be a political tool that could be manipulated and used to further the goals of the regime (2).

When Kurdish women continue to operate the apparatus laid out by political parties, they undermine not just themselves, but women throughout Kurdistan Region. Imagine the scale of success if women from various political parties worked together to achieve certain goals for the benefit and advancement of women rights instead of for their political parties.

It seems, one of the problems Kurdish women face is the lack of collaborative work at a time where they are racing not just against men, but also fellow women within their respective fields. When women work collaboratively, bypassing political parties and interests of NGOs and organisations they work with, there will be greater success for the advancement of women’s rights.

Until women in Kurdistan Region learn to work together instead of perceiving each other as threats to their careers, societal position and hierarchy, the advancement of women will not gain momentum.

Further reading

(1) Pierre Bourdieu, Masculine Domination (1st edn, Politiy Press 2001).

(2) Andrea Fischer-Tahir, ‘Competition, Cooperation And Resistance: Women In The Political Field In Iraq’ (2010) 86 International Affairs.

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