Iraq and the World Bank Group unite their efforts to enhance the economic empowerment of Iraqi women

العراق ومجموعة البنك الدولي يوحدان جهودهما لتعزيز التمكين الاقتصادي للمرأة العراقية

The Iraqi government today launched the Economic Empowerment Plan for Iraqi Women for the years 2021-2022, with the support of the World Bank Group. The plan aims to remove obstacles and create more economic opportunities for Iraqi women, as well as prioritize government initiatives that align with its reform program. The plan is the result of intensive discussions and consultations involving all relevant parties and stakeholders, supported by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, the Women’s Empowerment Department at the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, and the Higher Council for Women’s Affairs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The World Bank Group has provided its expertise and technical consultations to the Iraqi government in developing this plan. The main pillars of the plan include developing the necessary capacities for preparing a gender-responsive budget, enhancing women’s skills with a focus on digital and agricultural skills, facilitating women’s access to finance, developing capacities in data related to women in the private and informal sectors, creating a conducive environment for women in society through legislative reforms to reduce gender gaps and increase awareness of the importance of women’s inclusion in economic activities, as well as enhancing knowledge and capacities related to improving access to childcare services.

The plan also includes a specific section on supporting the most vulnerable categories of women in Iraq and targeting internally displaced and returnee women to liberated areas from ISIS.

Regarding the launch of the plan, Dr. Yusra Kareem, the National Coordinator for the Economic Empowerment of Women Project in the Middle East for Iraq and Director General of the Women’s Empowerment Department at the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, stated: “Women’s economic empowerment is one of the most important fundamental pillars targeted by the public policy for women’s empowerment. It is also in the context of women’s rights, equality, social justice, and the Sustainable Development Plan for 2030. In light of this, the Advisory Committee for Women’s Economic Empowerment, in collaboration with the World Bank, has developed the National Action Plan for the second year 2021-2022 for women’s economic empowerment and identified its six priorities.”

Commenting on this, Saroj Kumar Jha, Regional Director for the Middle East at the World Bank, said: “Iraqi women have demonstrated their strength and resilience over decades of economic and security challenges. Expanding the participation of Iraqi women in decision-making and leadership positions will contribute to peacebuilding and social development. The World Bank Group stands ready to support Iraq in creating an enabling environment for women’s economic participation and developing their capacities to access economic opportunities.”

In this regard, Abdullah Jafari, Regional Director for the Middle East at the International Finance Corporation, stated: “The International Finance Corporation works with the private sector to overcome the barriers that hinder the participation of Iraqi women in the workforce. Full and equal participation of women in the Iraqi economy is a fundamental requirement for achieving sustainable and resilient economic recovery and long-term inclusive growth.”

On his part, His Excellency Ulrik Shannon, Ambassador of Canada to Iraq, said: “Canada continues to support Iraq in its efforts to enhance women’s economic empowerment. We welcome the launch of this action plan within the framework of the Women’s Empowerment Program in the Middle East, to help remove barriers that hinder women’s participation in the workforce and enhance their chances of success.”

Similarly, His Excellency Erik Burger Husem, Chargé d’Affaires at the Norwegian Embassy in Iraq, said: “Sustainable development cannot be achieved in any country without the inclusion of women in economic life and decision-making bodies. Ensuring women’s participation in the labor market is a characteristic of a smart economy, and this requires effective and continuous efforts. The launch of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Iraqi Women for the years 2021-2022 today is a step in the right direction, and Norway is proud to support the Women’s Empowerment Program in the Middle East in these vital efforts.”

It is worth noting that the Economic Empowerment Plan for Iraqi Women will be implemented with the support of national and international civil society organizations, as well as support from the private sector and experts, through close coordination with the World Bank Group and international development partners.

The Economic Empowerment Plan for Iraqi Women is the result of joint efforts between the Iraqi government and the World Bank Group through the “Women’s Empowerment Program in the Middle East,” which was launched by the World Bank Group in January 2019 with funding from the governments of Canada and Norway. This program provides the necessary technical expertise to Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan to enhance women’s economic participation and drive inclusive growth. The Iraqi government has committed, within this program, to achieve the goal of increasing women’s participation in the labor force by 5 percentage points by 2024.