Saturday, June 10, 2006

Iraqi Women: Joining the Force

IRBIL , Iraq — Women's rights might not be the first thing one thinks of when someone mentions Iraq , however, some officials in the Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq would like it to be.

According to Irbil Minister of Interior Karim Sinjari, equality is very important for the residents of the Kurdish provinces.

“We are working very hard to be progressive and set the standard for human rights in Iraq ,” he said.

According to Sinjari, changing the country's view of women is an important step to separate themselves from the old way of thinking.

Although women throughout Iraq have been given the right to vote and are accepted in the army and police academies, the city of Irbil was the first city to allow women to hold positions of power.

Iraqi Police Lt. Narseed, is one of the first female officers in the city.

She wanted to be a police officer at a very young age but thought that the career field would not be open within her lifetime. That all changed when the Coalition removed Saddam from power. She said she had already graduated college and was becoming a lawyer when she made the decision to become a police officer. “When I heard that the doors had opened for women to become officers, I jumped at the chance and then went to the police academy.”

She said that she has no issue with men following orders or accepting her as an authoritative figure. “Here, there is no difference between male officers and female officers. If I tell the men to do something, they do it. There is no hesitation on their part.”

She said that her years of law school have helped her tremendously.

“Being a lawyer has helped me with the investigative side of police work. I know what a judge or an attorney is going to be looking for. This gives me a slight edge over some of the others on the force,” Narseed said.

Lt Narseed also says:

Narseed said the girls of Iraq need to see more strong women come to the forefront. They need to know that they are only limited by their imagination.

“We are professional; we deserve to be recognized for what we can contribute and not for our gender,” said Narseed.

“Support those of us who want to walk a different path. We are all Iraqis - Sunni, Shiite, Kurd- male and female. We need to come together instead of pulling apart.”

Read about other Iraqi policewomen.

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