Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rudaw interview Soraya Fallah about Kurdistan Referendum

Women foresee more influence shaping independent Kurdistan than Iraq


By Rudaw 24/9/2017
A woman waves the Kurdistan flag at Erbil’s colour festival earlier this month. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
A woman waves the Kurdistan flag at Erbil’s colour festival earlier this month. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Acknowledging many concerns with respect to women’s rights and their lack of participation in public life in Kurdistan, women expect to have more influence shaping an independent Kurdistan nation than they would have remaining in Iraq. 

“I know there is a lot of enthusiasm and appetite to partake in nation building amongst women,” said Soraya Fallah, a US-based researcher, via email. 

“There is a long history of civil engagement and we can continue to build on that. Unfortunately, women in other parts of Iraq have not been able to break as many barriers.”

Fallah is one of over 40 Kurdish women who signed a statement supporting the Kurdistan independence referendum as a democratic process, valid under international law.

“We believe that supporting such a cause is supporting human dignity, people’s right to vote, people’s right to decide for their own future, and people’s rights to rescue their future generations from oppression,” read the statement from the women who come from all walks of life: politics, business, arts, education, and grass roots movements. The full text of their statement is below.

These women offer enormous potential for the Kurdistan nation in the midst of state-building and they are demanding their voices be heard. 

Kurdish women gained world renown as all-female brigades within the Peshmerga and other forces fought ISIS. Strong Kurdish women have dedicated their lives as fighters, activists, journalists, educators, and politicians, but they are still under-represented in key decision-making roles in government. 

There is a lot of work to be done, argued Fallah, “because whether we like to admit it or not, the government, the system, and the culture is patriarchal.”

In the war against ISIS, with Yezidi women a direct target of the group’s brutality, women’s rights in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region came under the microscope and into public discussion more than ever before. A positive result of this has been an increase in women’s movements with support from a myriad of international organizations. 

As Kurdistan stands on the brink of independence, now is the best time to harness those resources and the energy of half the population, Fallah stated. 

“We have to ask ourselves what kind of nation do we want to be?” she asked. “Independence needs to be based on democracy and the guaranteed rights of all citizens.”

She warned against focusing on the nation first and then addressing gender equality later, saying such a mentality has historically been a mistake. “Women’s issues need to be addressed simultaneously because free women can help build a nation alongside their male peers.”

Women have unfortunately been visibly lacking thus far with respect to the referendum. Fallah points out that the negotiations, meetings, and decisions have been male-driven. She thinks it likely many women are working behind the scenes or contributing to discussions and preparations, “but they are not given the space and platform to take part in key decision-making.”

Increased participation of women in politics “shoulder to shoulder with our men” not only empowers the individual women, it “empowers our nation as a whole,” said Fallah. 

Full text of the statement from Kurdish women on the referendum:

Statement of support for the right to hold a referendum in the Kurdistan region in Iraq on Sep 25th

To all people who may be concerned with conflict resolution in the Middle East, concerned about the rights of all people to self-determination, and/or who would simply like to learn more about why this  referendum is being held.

We ask our representatives to support Kurdistan referendum. We, women who are in one way or another originated from or related to the world’s largest nation without a country, the Kurds, in this crucial moment of history, stand by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s decision to hold a referendum in Kurdistan of Iraq. 

1) The referendum is a democratic process in which Kurdistani citizens are able to directly vote and decide on an important political matter: self-determination and independence.

2) The referendum is consistent with principles embodied in the United States Congressional Record (1918), where every civilized nation has the unquestionable right to exercise full powers of internal self-government.

3) The referendum is legal based on international law. The ratification of the United Nations Charter in 1945 at the end of World War II placed the right of self-determination into the framework of international law and diplomacy.

4) While we are deeply excited by the Kurdistani people’s decision and the possibility of getting the right of independence in a legitimate referendum, we understand that a declaration of independence might not result from this vote.

5) This referendum is not only for Kurds, it is also for all Kurdistani people of various ethnicities and religious affiliations who are living in the region under the Kurdistan Regional Government.

6) The legacy of colonialism in the Middle East and the decision to deny Kurds’ self- determination that came about as a result of the Sykes-Picot Agreement )1916) must come to an end.

7) We condemn all threats from neighboring countries who have oppressed Kurds throughout history. We urge them to not interfere with this democratic process.

8) We believe that supporting such a cause is supporting human dignity, people’s right to vote, people’s right to decide for their own future, and people’s rights to rescue their future generations from oppression.

We strongly ask everyone to support this cause.

Dr. Soraya Fallah, researcher; Traci Fahimi, Dean of SBC& Academic Programs; Chinar Binavi, President of Kurdish community center of CA; Soraya Mofty, Activist & Linguist; Leslie Ladd, fashion designer; Cklara Moradian, CSUN graduate student; Roya Nahid,  businesswomen; Rojan Fayaz, vocalist &activist ; Hanna Jaff, Philanthropist; Zhala Tawfiq, scientist ; Suzan Ahmed , Educator; MarmarStwart ,activist &Author; Azar Ghobadi , vocalist ,song writer; Mahboobeh Hossianinia, political activist; Nawaz  Khasraw, Engineer; Ghomri Rostampour, public school educator; Farnaz Bahrami, event planner; Shaida Sharikandi, businesswoman; Hiro Salar, college student; SiloveBarvari,Publicist; FroozanKhoramian, Student; FawzeahAziz;Amina Abdullah; SafiyaDosky; LaekaSaddula; SabriaDosky; Kadria Sindi; Helen Sindi; Najeeba Shali; Bayan Sindi; MahdiaSindi; Nazdar Dosky; Rezan Dosky; Nazdar Qasab; Chiman Sindi; Bayan Merani; Nazdar Sharif; Fawzia Chalabi; Seeber Barwari, GalavejBarwari, Lana Dizay,Helaleh Sharikandi, Dr. Aida Ali Akreyi.

Names are not limited to the above list.

No comments: