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Increasing The Well-being Of Iraqi Widows


Wednesday 13 October 2010, by Iraqi Democratic Future Network

Marginalized and condemned to silence in a patriarchal society, many Iraqi widows and their children live under the poverty line, whether relative or absolute.

When the IDFN campaign for increasing the well-being of widows was launched, the focus was on improving access to State pensions. Soon afterwards, emphasis was also placed on increasing opportunities in the workforce available to widows and eliminating discrimination by changing the way society viewed them.

Widows represent the largest group of poor people in Iraqi society. Including their children, the number of people directly impacted by widows’ pensions is probably close to 8 or 9 million people. Some 95% of widows never remarry and are faced, all of their lives, with double discrimination as widows and as women.

Coordinated by the IDFN and its member organizations, with guidance and support from Canadian and European partners, the campaign has already succeeded in:

 eliminating discriminatory restrictions on pensions, such as a minimum age (i.e. prior to this intervention, women under 50 could not access these State pensions);

 registering over 6,500 widows with the Ministry of Labour and over 300 widows of different ages and backgrounds found employment in the Ministry of Transport;

 securing access for widows to food and fuel from Iraqi Red Crescent;

 increasing rights awareness amongst widows through workshops and conferences.

On going activities include continuing to raise rights-awareness among widows, advocacy work, and lobbying government officials, local authorities, religious leaders and civil society organizations.


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