EUAM Iraq Gender and Human Rights adviser Jeff Hoppenbrouwers of Dutch origin shares his views on the fragile social and political situation in Iraq.
1. Can you briefly describe your current position in the Mission and the main areas of work you focus on?
I work as the Human Rights and Gender Adviser for EUAM Iraq. My work responsibilities involve advising the Head of Mission and senior management on human rights and gender themes. I also support my colleagues in mainstreaming human rights and gender in all relevant Mission activities. Furthermore, I liaise and maintain relations with the international community and the Iraqi civil society on human rights and gender in the context of the Security Sector Reform (SSR).
2. What are the main challenges Iraqis are facing currently?
Iraqis have had extremely daunting challenges in their lives, but they are proud and dignified people who know what they want. Foremost, the Iraqis want freedom in life, and they seek to live in a society with equal opportunities and justice for all.
The current fragile security situation in Iraq, the re-emergence of Isis, various militia groups and the US-Iran tensions raise big concerns. Furthermore, the low oil-prices and dreadful COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous socio-economic hardship for many Iraqi families, especially to those on a low income. Women, elderly and children are particularly vulnerable in the current challenging context.
3. What are the major achievements of the Mission when it comes to gender and human rights issues?
The Mission has liaised closely with national and international partners on human rights and gender issues. These efforts have resulted in better gender awareness and more balanced women’s participation and equality within the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the Federal Intelligence and Investigation Agency (FIIA).
The Mission has also set up a SSR civil society platform which meets on specific thematic areas, such as domestic violence and violence against women.
During the nationwide curfew in Iraq the Mission liaised closely with the MoI, The Ministry of Defense, the NATO Mission Iraq and the WHO which resulted in a training workshop for Iraqis on the socio-psychological consequences of the COVID-19.
4. How can EUAM Iraq support the Iraqis in implementing the UN Resolution 1325?
Iraqi women should have an active and prominent role in shaping the new security sector in Iraq. The Mission, in the context of SSR, propagates women's participation and equality as key features of a modern security sector. The Mission engages closely with operation departments of the Iraqi police, border authorities and intelligence institutions.
A vibrant civil society is the backbone of any modern state. The participation of women in political life is important. Women's participation in conceiving and developing the Iraqi state heightens its legitimacy.
5. What would be your message to a young Iraqi woman struggling with the current difficult situation in the country?
You are the present and the future of Iraq. You can be who you want to be and your participation matters. Your dignity and rights are as important as anybody else's. Let your voice be heard. Bear in mind that when it comes to your human rights, you have the rest of the world and your government to support you, including the European Union.