Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Update: Women's Rights In Iraq

In the past I've written about the prospects for women's rights in Iraq. The Iraqi public opinion poll that linked to yesterday provides some additional insight. The last question of the poll deals with the roll of women in the new Iraq society.
Q44 - Thinking about the role of women in public life, do you think that women should…
  • Vote (99.3%)
  • Be able to stand for Moukhtar (37.9%)
  • Be able to stand for public office such as member of a local council (77.2%)
  • Be able to stand for public office such as member of the national assembly (80.1%)
  • Be able to be Governor (50.7%)
  • Be able to be President (45.9%)
  • Be able to instruct men in their work (77.9%)
  • Be a (medical) doctor (98.5%)
  • Drive a car (84.1%)
The numbers in parentheses indicate 'yes' responses. I was unfamiliar with the term Moukhtar. My understanding (though a formal definition eludes me) is that it a cultural title, somewhat akin that of a village elder. The position is traditionally held by males, so it is unsurprising to me to see such a low percentage of respondent supporting women in that role.

Overall, I would say the results are mixed, but not surprising, except for one particular question. Almost unanimously (99.3%), respondents thought that women should have the right to vote. This result is so high that it makes me want to question the methodology of the poll. I doubt the number would be that high even in the U.S. or any western European countries.

A disappointing (in my opinion) percentage of people are in favor of women holding public office, especially a national post such as president. Still, for a heavily Islamic country, the results could have been far worse.

Finally, note that far more people are in favor of women voting (99.3%) or being doctors (98.5%) than driving cars (84.1%). Bad jokes aside, I really don't understand that result. Some people would be comfortable going under the knife of a female surgeon, but wouldn't trust driving home on the same roads with them? That makes little sense.