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Thursday, February 29, 2024

“Iraqi women are my role models’’

Ms. Fatima Kadem is a strong promoter of women’s rights. She currently works as the Gender Adviser of the Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency (FIIA) in the Ministry of Interior. Here she shares her inspiring story as an Iraqi advocate and strong supporter of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Please tell us about your work at FIIA?

I am the Head of FIIA’s Women Committee and since 2016 a member of the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) Women Empowerment Committee. The focus of the committees is to deal with challenges that women face at the workplace. My role is to tackle these problems, have discussions with the women and raise problematic issues with their supervisors. I always see women as achievers, and they should never be victimised.

This is the reason why equal opportunities and fair conditions of employment are so important. It is good to remember that we live in a society of traditional norms, which doubles the challenges of women and girls. I am grateful to the male supporters and directors within FIIA who see the distinct added value that women bring to male-dominated fields such as intelligence analysis and organised crime.

Iraq was the first country in the Middle East that launched a National Action Plan (NAP) in 2014 to implement the Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The second plan was approved in December 2020. What is the role of FIIA to implement it?

FIIA has established a Mixed Gender Intelligence Analysis Unit composed of 10 women and men analysts. The unit encourages women and men to work side by side on equal terms. FIIA actively organises workshops on Women, Peace and Security, many in cooperation with EUAM Iraq. Together we have advocated for the promotion of mixed gender teams in operations and gender mainstreaming within FIIA. Security institutions face a double challenge in including women in operations and planning. They need to convince male colleagues to work with women in operations and empowering women to reach their full potential. To overcome this, we need the leaders of FIIA to support the cause and actively promote gender equality. The Deputy Minister of FIIA, Lieutenant General Ahmad Taha Hashim Abu Ragheef has played a significant role in empowering women and supporting me to organise workshops on UN Resolution 1325.

What are the main challenges the Iraqi women and girls are facing currently in the society?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the conditions of women and girls and has increased the unemployment and violence. I have eight sisters and two brothers and currently I am the main breadwinner of the family. All my siblings regret that they did not complete their education. I want to be a role model to Iraqi women and girls and encourage everyone to finish their studies.

What has been the biggest success of FIIA or you personally as the Head of FIIA’s Women Committee?

I received an appreciation letter from the Minister of Interior last year related to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. I find it extremely important to encourage women and men within the Ministry to support the crucial cause of increased participation and gender equality at the workplace.

How has EUAM Iraq supported your activities when it comes to the Women, Peace, Security Agenda?

I really appreciate the great support and collaboration with EUAM, especially with the Mission’s gender and human rights adviser Ms. Sahra El Fassi. I have learned a lot on how to evaluate and assess gender topics at the workplace and what is the valuable role of women in intelligence analysis, police work and mixed teams.

What has been the most rewarding experience for you personally?

The most memorable experience for me personally has been two separate study trips to Australia with 19 other international students. I learned about gender mainstreaming and the role of women in police and military operations. I felt that I was the voice of all Iraqi women. During the workshops I gave lectures on Daesh attacks on the Yazidi people and communities.

What would be your message to an Iraqi woman or girl during these challenging times?

Women can break all possible boundaries. Education is the key to success. Iraqi women and girls are brave and generous. They should act as role models for other individuals in the society.

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