October 05, 2004

Keeping Iraqi women down.

While US eyes are firmly on the election, Dubya's administration is up to all sorts of nasty mischief in other parts of the world. The latest item to come to our attention is Washington's decision to include a rabidly right-wing women's group in its Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative. As a result, the Independent Women's Forum is getting a cut of a US$ 10 million contract to train Iraqi women in political participation and democracy during the run-up to the 2005 national elections in Iraq.

What's particularly disturbing about this decision is that the IWF has absolutely no experience in any sort of international work promoting democracy. What the group does have, however, is ties a-plenty to Dubya's administration and the US right wing. One of the IWF's founders was Lynne Cheney, who's married to VP Dick Cheney. Another was Elaine Chao, who is Dubya's labor secretary. And the list could go on.

The IWF's activities since its founding in 1991 don't give this magpie any room for optimism about the type of expertise that the group will be exercising on behalf of the women of Iraq:

The IWF, which according to its mission statement was "established to combat the women-as-victim, pro-big-government ideology of radical feminism," has taken a number of controversial positions over the years in pursuit of that goal.

It has strongly opposed the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in part because it would mandate governments to enforce laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.

"This is 'comparable worth', a system of government wage-setting that Americans have rightly rejected as inefficient and antithetical to free market principles," the IWF has argued.

It has also objected to CEDAW's requirements that governments guarantee "maternity leave with pay" and child care facilities as well as its suggestions for minimum quotas to ensure that women are represented at all levels in governments....

The IWF has also opposed affirmative action and federal programmes designed to prevent sexual discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal government funding. The administration appointed IWF President Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women despite the fact that the group opposed the Violence Against Women Act.

If you want more info on the IWF, MediaTransparency has a nice (although slightly dated) summary of the group's history and activities here, and People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch has a longer one here.

Via InterPress Service.

Posted by Magpie at October 5, 2004 05:10 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |