For Immediate Release
March 8, 2004
Statement by L. Paul Bremer, Administrator, Coalition
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – MARCH 8, 2004
For the past 30 years, the women of Iraq were subjected to some
of the most cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment under the brutal
dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Television images cannot begin to capture the
horror of Saddam’s torture and rape-rooms, or the mass graves which symbolize
the misery and poverty inflicted on women through the regime’s systematic
killing of innocents.
Women have also been largely excluded from the political process in Iraq. They
have been denied some of the most fundamental opportunities, such as access to
education, where estimates of female illiteracy run as high as 78 percent.
With the world’s attention focused on Iraq’s historic transition to a
self-standing democracy, the rights and status of women in society and
governance have been an important issue in the constitutional debate. Leaders
from around the world have emphasized that the role of women in Iraq must not be
neglected in the context of the country’s emerging political structure. The
Coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council are working to ensure full and fair
representation and equal rights for the women of Iraq.
In the short term, the countries of the Coalition, which exercises sovereign
authority here until June 30, will not permit any law or regulation which
diminishes individual rights, including women’s rights. The Transitional
Administrative Law (TAL), signed today, contains strong guarantees of women’s
rights – rights that cannot be abrogated. The Law provides that the electoral
system should aim to achieve the goal of having women constitute not less than
25 percent of the Transitional National Assembly. This interim constitution is
unprecedented in the region for its forward-thinking and progressive support of
fundamental rights for all Iraqis, especially women.
International Women’s Day recognizes the achievements and rights of women around
the world. Today, we commemorate International Women’s Day by honoring the
resilience, the achievements and the promise of the women of Iraq. This day also
reminds us how much further we need to go in the pursuit of women’s rights.
Iraq is now headed on the right path, and women are helping lead the way.