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Paper #2 Iraqi Women

Paper #2 Iraqi Women - Wallin Skye Wallin Dr Isis Nusair...

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Wallin Skye Wallin Dr. Isis Nusair Iraq Post 2003 26 February 2008 Changing Status of Privileged Iraqi Women What is clear by the end of Al-Ali’s Iraqi Women is that the status of women living under U.S. occupied Iraq has deteriorated drastically—making women “among the biggest losers in new Iraq.” 1 Throughout the 20 th Century, Iraqi citizens have experienced a tumultuous history—but the focus of this paper is on its women and the sociopolitical changes that have affected their place in society. Unlike Charles Tripp’s political analysis of the Iraq’s history in A History of Iraq , Al-Ali utilizes personal narratives of Iraqi women—all with unique and diverse experiences—to tell a multi- dimensional and fluid history of her father’s homeland. What must be emphasized is the narrow selection of interviewees that Al-Ali has chosen for her book—that is, nearly all of her interviewees (the source material for this paper’s analysis) are of the urban middle- class. 2 There are several instances throughout the book where this fact is addressed, and the concluding analysis emphasizes that the narratives are not, by any means, representative of Iraq as a whole. Before proceeding with this paper, however, it is vital to understand that the source material is based on the perspectives of a privileged minority—the views of which are invaluable to the narrative of Iraq, but should not be mistaken for widely held opinions or experiences—subjects which are left largely 1 Al-Ali, Nadje Sadig. Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present . London: Zed, 2007 270 2 Ibid. 5 1
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Wallin unaddressed. In this paper I will analyze how the status of many Iraqi women changed as a result of a series of political, social, and economic factors and events. Beginning in the last decade of the monarchy, and through the period of revolution—times which were marked by intense Pan-Arab and Nationalist activism by both men and women, boys and girls—I will explore how the situation changed with the onset of the Ba’ath regime. Crucial to the study is the point at which the Ba’athists shifted goals from social and egalitarian oriented, to more oppressive and militaristic ones. I will continue analyzing both the effects of the UN-imposed economic sanctions and the subsequent wars leading up to, and including, the current occupation, on the status of women. Though the days of the Iraqi monarchy were, at the time, regarded as repressive by “large segments of the population,” the women of Al-Ali’s study described it with “a certain sense of nostalgia and a degree of romanticizing of the past.” 3 Many women remember it as a time of freedom and democracy. The account of a Shia woman named Zeynab was particularly positive: “We had democracy. We had congressmen. We had laws. We had a parliament. We had freedom. As I remember, we had equality.” 4 Though most Iraqi girls and women (along with most of the people of Iraq) had absolutely no access to any sort of education, being educated was the norm for many young women.
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