On the occasion of the International Women’s day, the Iraqi Social Forum Economic and Social Rights Masar (path) and the Solidarity Center organized a series of training and activities for working women to promote the new labor law in Iraq.

The activities started with a workshop on working women rights in the new labor law, where 15 women participated representing trade unions and number of civil society organizations, the workshop that lasted for two days (8th and 9th of March) in the HQ of the Iraqi Social Forum discussed the major challenges and violations faced by women in the workplaces, and ways to deal with those violations according to labor law No. 37 of 2015. It also focused on protecting the working women from discrimination in employment and occupation, as well as harassment, violence against women in the workplaces, and the possible means to reduce these violations. In addition to monitoring the violations of arbitrary dismissal of women from work, legal review of work contracts for individuals, work hours, holidays and public holidays prescribed by the law.

Women showed that the most violations occurring in the workplaces are as follows:-

  • Low wages paid to the working women compared to working hours, and to men wages who perform the same work at the same circumstances. And women’s acceptance of those wages because of the lack of employment opportunities. As well as the problem of the low wages for women in the government and the public sector.
  • Sexual harassment at work and marginalize the role of women in the workplace, claiming that she’s not efficient or capable enough to work as men.
  • Discrimination in employment and occupation practiced against women, this includes discrimination in leadership and administrative positions.
  • The limitation in holidays and not giving working women payable holidays as it’s written in the Labor law.
  • The social and tribal restrictions constitute an obstacle to women who demand their rights at workplace and anywhere else.
  • Layoffs and continuous bargaining and harassment by employers.
  • Personal relations between employees and employers and their negative reflection on the situation of women at work place.
  • Exploitation against working women due to their social status, in particular, divorced and widows.
  • Long working hours and forcing women to work overtime outside the specified working hours with low wages in return.t
  • Working women with daily wages or contract with the public sector do not enjoy the pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leaves, and if given it would be without pay.
  • Verbal and intellectual violence against women in the workplace.

All women were trained about all forms of direct and indirect discrimination, and the ways to monitor, classify and then process it through the study of different situations, and also the role of trade unions and civil society organizations was briefly discussed.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Social Forum and the Solidarity Center organized an activity within Shahrazad Bazaar for the celebration of International Women’s Day, which included the preparation and distribution of booklets on women’s rights in the new labor law and the introduction of the international campaign to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace. A competition for a number of attendees was also organized that included questions about women’s rights in the work, the competition ended with delivering prizes to the participants and copies of the new Iraqi labor law.

It is noteworthy that the most prominent materials that drew the attention of women in the competition was that the law included maternity leave and that the law included articles that prohibit harassment, violence and discrimination against women in the workplace, and the right of women to enjoy weekly paid vacations and regular and sick leave, as well as the presence of legal provisions prohibiting arbitrary dismissal from work.

Women from different unions and various Iraqi governorates have created a special page for women on Facebook for the purpose of communication, exchange of experiences and continuation of women’s activities over the full year.