Gender, Globalization and Militarization: The Use and Abuse of Iraqi Women, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

In the second chapter of What kind of liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq, “The Use and Abuse of Iraqi Women,” Nadje Sadig Ali-Ali and Nicola Christine Pratt not only portray the failure of U.S involvement to promote women rights in Iraqi, but also present a skeptical analysis of the interest shown by western powers on Iraqi women’s rights prior to the US-led invasion. This is especially the case considering that the two leading western powers in the war, the U.S. under former president George Bush and the UK under former prime mister Tony Blair, became particularly concerned about the plight of Iraqi women at a time they desperately needed a justifiable excuse to oust Saddam. Saddam had been in power for many decades, and it is common knowledge that women’s rights weren’t any better during those years than they were shortly before the invasion. The timing of this sudden interest is questionable; otherwise it is absurd that the powers that be had their eyes “opened” regarding the abuse of women rights in Iraqi when they were campaigning for support to oust Saddam. While allegations of Saddam’s possession of mass weapons of destruction were on the cards, it was equally important to find an excuse marketable to human rights groups and the international community.

It is not surprising, therefore, that just two weeks before the invasion, the then U.S. undersecretary for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, and flanked by a group of exiled Iraqi women, held a conference to assert the U.S.’s commitment to end the abuse of women rights in Iraqi by Saddam’s regime. Properly speaking, it was a campaign aimed at winning popular support for the impending invasion, whose primary goal was remotely related to anything to do with Iraqi women’s rights. As the authors observe, the situation for women has not improved in the post-Saddam era, which suggests that the invasion was never about women rights. While it may be preposterous to tie the whole scenario to a long-nursed dream to control the Middle East and its oil resources- in fact going back to Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, such an observation is not totally off the mark either. This is because after Saddam had been overthrown, captured and handed to the hangman, Washington and its allies-in-arms went silent about the plight of women in post-war Iraqi. Again, this is not surprising, really; it was time to refocus on the real objective, the ultimate prize- oil. Texas-based oil merchants silently came into the scene, and the marginalized women on whose interest the war was partly fought were forgotten in the scramble for the oil rigs.

While the Bush administration was generous enough to redirect part of the war budget into a women empowerment fund, there have not been any visible, tangible results in relation to the economic, social and political improvement of women’s status in Iraqi. As the authors point out, the distribution of resources meant to empower women involve figures on paper and not visible results on how women have actually benefited from the U.S. involvement in Iraqi, while some projects are not sustainable in the long run. Their sustainability, as it were, depends on the continued presence of western elements in Iraqi to provide funding. It then appears that the hullabaloo about the economic, political and social empowerment of women is another staged script to justify a prolonged and indirect occupation of Iraqi through U.S. based humanitarian non-governmental organizations and other governmental agencies, such as USAID. Coupled with the snail-pace rate of reconstruction, it becomes clearly apparent that it is going to be a long walk for Iraqi women towards their complete liberation. Meanwhile, they have to contend with the anarchy created by the invasion; insecurity and deterioration of social services in the public sector. Without security and a stable government, women would not be free to participate in the economic, social and political spheres in Iraqi.

In conclusion, therefore, the complete achievement of women’s rights in Iraqi is not going to come on a silver platter from foreign powers. Instead, it will take the active involvement of local authorities and political good will of the country’s leadership. Regardless whether foreign powers are involved or not, it is going to be a long and torturous walk to freedom.

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