5/18/2007

Women better represented in Iraqi Parliament than in US Congress...

I recently stumbled upon a new data sharing website called Swivel, which offers bloggers and journalists quality information to use creatively to backup their arguments. I was immediately compelled to write about the very first report I saw featured on Swivel's homepage, which utilized data from an United Nations report that makes the shocking claim that there are more women serving as a percentage of Iraqi parliament than there are currently serving as a percentage of the US Congress. At first glance, I was surprised and had a difficult time believing that this could be possible. Upon closer review, I noticed that the graph below shows a drastic increase in the number of women elected to parliament between the years 1990-2006, but how could it be that women were "elected" to anything in Iraq prior to the US liberation of the country from the autocratic rule of Saddam Hussein?

To satisfy my suspicions, I did what I usually do and navigated my way over to Wikipedia to find information on the structure of the Iraq government under the dictatorship of Saddam. I found that the government was ruled exclusively under the executive authority of Saddam's nine member Revolutionary Command Council, which legislated by decree and was comprised exclusively of male members of the Ba'ath Party. There was a 250 member Iraqi National Assembly, consisting of 220 elected by popular vote, with 30 more appointed by Saddam to represent the three northern provinces. The legislative body was never recognized as free and fair by the United Nations, and only members of Saddam's Ba'ath Party were eligible.

Considering these facts, I find it interesting that the OECD now wants to measure improvement in the representation of women in Iraq comparatively to an electoral period that they themselves did not recognize. However, the information is no less compelling, particularly the fact that a similar increase in female political participation has been witnessed in Pakistan. I think that one of the by-products of an increased American presence in the Middle East over the first couple decades of the 21st century will be the unprecedented improvement in the condition of women living in Islamic states.

So often I make this point when arguing with friends about the impact of the US invasion, only to have my head bitten off by the most vehement anti-Bushies who insist that this wasn't our motivation and should not be used as a justification. To me the motivations are far less important than the results, and if liberal wackos want to argue that the invasion was a disaster because of its consequences and the violence it has caused in the region, but believe it unimportant to weigh the more beneficial by-products of Iraqi liberation, then they are hypocrites. Our last best hope for the Middle East is in the liberation of the fairer sex, which should be blatantly apparent to everyone who has watched Iraq become consumed in violence.

Iraq elects more women than the US
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