A recent Human Rights Watch report outlines ways in which women’s rights became more limited in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. According to the report, women had a better place in politics and society during the 1970s than at present. Similarly, an article in yesterday’s New York Times explains how the current struggle for power in the political arena has curtailed women’s rights despite a 25% quota for women in parliament. Some people think there should be a quota for women in the ministries as well, while others feel women are not qualified or do not belong in politics.
In social psychology research, the study of attitudes about affirmative action has expanded to include gender inequality. A survey study conducted by Boechmann and Feather (2007) examined attitudes about affirmative action for women in Australia. For male participants, they found that unfair male advantage was negatively associated with a belief in women’s entitlement to affirmative action. However, when men’s perceptions of personal responsibility and guilt were entered into the model, unfair male advantage was positively related to women’s entitlement and deservingness.
In Iraq, efforts to secure more basic human rights for women might be advanced not just by pushing for more quotas but also by complimentary efforts to increase civic-mindedness and awareness among men.
At a crossroads: Human rights in Iraq eight years after the US-led invasion, Human Rights Watch, February 2, 2011. See Section I. Rights of women and girls