Statement by Alice Walpole, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General,At the launch of #WhyNot Campaign 3 July 2018

Distinguished Guests,

I am delighted to join you today to launch the campaign #Why Not, #Shakobeha, as part of the United Nations’ efforts to highlight the significance of women’s participation in electoral and political processes.

I am particularly delighted to stand alongside male champions like the Governor, the Chair of the Provincial Council and other distinguished religious and tribal leaders who are here to support our campaign.


I would like to start by commending all those women who won seats in the parliamentary elections on 12 May, both within and outside the women’s seat quota. I hope that a substantial number of incoming female Members of Parliament will be appointed to key roles in parliamentary committees and indeed to seats on the Council of Ministers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The #Why Not campaign originally started last April, in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. Its support for women candidates was partly aimed at countering the vicious negative social media campaigns at that time, targeted at many of the women candidates for parliamentary seats. Now that the elections are over, you might ask why the #Why Not campaign is continuing. The answer is that there remains a great deal to do to ensure that Iraq benefits fully from the skills, experience and knowledge that women can bring to political life.

So, the #Why Not campaign will turn its focus now to sustainable, longer-term political reform. We know that women’s political participation results in tangible gains for democracy, including greater responsiveness to citizens’ needs, legislation which has a positive impact for families and communities, and increased co-operation across party and sectarian lines.

The United Nations’ mandate in Iraq, agreed with the government of Iraq and recently renewed on 14 June, clearly tasks the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) with promoting the participation, involvement and representation of women at all levels of society. It also instructs UNAMI to promote women’s equal access to executive roles in key areas such as national reconciliation, security sector reform, elections and socio-economic development. Accordingly, the United Nations stands ready to collaborate with the incoming government, notably the Council of Representatives, in developing, for example, legislation to broaden women’s political space and facilitate their appointment in leadership positions in government, the judiciary and other national institutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly pleased to be supporting the #Why Not campaign because my own mother was a politician, first at regional and then at national level. She was a very active member of the British parliament. My sisters and I were brought up in a household full of political discussion and we were always encouraged to participate. I spent my childhood on the political campaign trail with my mother, in an era when women politicians were still quite rare in England. My mother believed very fiercely in the value of women in the political sphere and she worked hard to promote and mentor younger women politicians. I think she would be delighted at the #Why Not campaign. She would certainly be a strong advocate for female candidates in the Iraqi electoral process.

It is my belief that having a critical mass of women in leadership and decision-making positions will contribute to building and sustaining the democratic process in Iraq. In this context, I reiterate my congratulations to the successful women candidates in the recent parliamentary elections; and take this opportunity to offer my warmest best wishes to those women who will run later this year as candidates for seats on Provincial Councils, and seats in the Kurdistan Regional parliament. Your engagement is vital to the political future of Iraq.

Thank You.


Related News

UNAMI launches #WhyNot campaign in Babil Governorate, calling for stronger representation of women in the incoming Government and national institutions

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  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Monday, 30 July 2018 12:49

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