Founding Statement
Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)

Women's freedom is the measure of freedom and humanity in society. Not only in Iraq where women endure the most severe types of discrimination and injustice, but also in the more developed countries in the world today, the realization of full equality among women and men still requires continuous struggle and serious and rapid steps. The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq considers itself an indivisible part of the great, historic, and universal struggle for women's liberation. Women's rights are universal. They do not submit to any divisions based upon borders, cultures, ethnicities and religions. Furthermore, women's liberation from male chauvinistic shackles in Iraq will have a profound ripple effect on women's status and people's lives in the Middle East.

The suffering of women in Iraq during the past eras due to deprivation, lack of rights, and oppression, is one of the most malicious phenomena and bitter facts in Iraqi society. Women were officially and legally deprived even from the trivial and limited rights and freedoms that men enjoyed. In addition to starvation and destitution resulting from economic sanctions and the absence of opportunities for women, women were the first victims of oppressive regimes, especially the fascist Ba'ath regime and the regressive political changes whether originating from the United States and their destructive wars or the nationalist and Islamist movements in Iraq.

Nowadays, the simplest personal freedoms of women are subject to pressure and restriction that may threaten women's right to life. Women are considered second rate citizens and officially dependant on men. In Iraq, we confront male chauvinism and religious backwardness and tribalism that threaten women's humanity and strongly question her presence in all fields.

The freedom of women and their full equality with men will always be a hope and aim for the protesting masses and freedom lovers in Iraq. The marginalization of and violence against women, discriminatory laws and misogynist policies were faced with the denunciation of the masses in contemporary Iraqi society. There is a huge emancipatory and secular force in this society that aims at achieving freedom and a better life for women. Women's situation needs to be changed as the women in Iraq deserve another kind of life; one that is full of freedom, equality and prosperity. Therefore, the need arises to found the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq for the immediate realization of this human cause.

Our objective is the unconditional freedom of women and full equality among women and men in Iraq. The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq thereby struggles to realize the following demands:

1. Establishment of a humanistic law based upon equality and the assurance of the broadest liberties for women in addition to the abolition of discriminatory laws of all kinds. 2. Separation of religion from the state and education. 3. Stopping of all forms of violence against women and honour killings and stressing on punishment of the murderers of women. 4. Abolition of compulsory veiling, children's veiling and protecting freedom of dress. 5. Equal participation among women and men in all social, economic, administrative and political realms and at all levels. 6. Abolition of sexual segregation in schools at all stages.

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq strives to attract the masses of women outside the dark corners of their houses and to organize their ranks along a struggle that develops the status of women and assures their participation in economic, political and social life. The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq calls upon all women, men and groups protesting against the abnormal situation of women to join its ranks and struggle to strengthen and support the emancipatory and egalitarian movement for a better life for women.

Nasik Ahmad,
Yanar Mohammed,
Nadia Mahmoud

June 2003

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