Women’s Empowerment

Women’s Empowerment: Number of Women in Senior Management Positions in Iraqi Ministries is Disappointing

Once, I asked one of my relatives “Why did all of your four daughters become teachers? Why only teaching?” She replied “Because of several reasons. First, teaching is more appropriate for women. Second, teaching has less working hours compared to other jobs. Third, teachers have 3-4 months of vacation and that is very advantageous for women. The fourth and the final reason is that she does not interact with men.”

We often hear those phrases in many families as the community is not happy with some other profesions such as engineering, accounting, military, or tourist guide for women. Ministry of Planning confirmed that kind of thoughts by the data they collected in 2018. The data showed that Iraqi society prefers teaching as a job for women among many other ones.

Most Iraqi Ministries Lack a Gender Balance in the Proportions of Female Employees

Iraqi society prefers teaching as a job for women among many other ones and there is no Gender Balance in the Iraqi Ministries

The rates of female employees are unbalanced in various professional sectors.One evident for that is that 72% of all Iraqi female employees work for the Ministry of Education!

This presence of female employees in the Ministry of Education indicates the very low proportions of women employed in other ministries which in only %28, For example, for every 25 women working in the Ministry of Education, there is only one woman working in the Ministry of the Interior.

As stated above, female employment is more than half in the Ministry of Education, and about half in Higher Education. These statistics show that there are certain reasons that made the overwhelming majority of Iraqi women work in the teaching sector. Apparently, there are two main reasons. The first is, Iraqi society in general prefers the profession of teaching, because it is closer to the typical work of women, such as raising children. Second, in the past decades, through an educational plan, the Iraqi government, encouraged teaching profession for girls, as many teaching institutes were opened for female, the duration of study in those institutions was only two years. In short, the teaching profession was the easiest among other occupations.

 The gap between women and men in senior management positions in Iraqi ministries is very large

Through my work as a university lecturer, I had a discussion with one of my colleagues about the possibility of a woman becoming the president of the university. I was surprised by my friend’s belief about women holding a university president position, when she said, with all enthusiasm: “Sure she will be failed,” I asked why? She said, “Because this important position cannot be run by a woman!!”

This statement describes the Iraqi society’s beliefs about women in the presidential position. If a university lecturer has this thought, how would be the rest of society’s mindset!

Data issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning for the year 2018 indicate the poor contribution of women in administrative positions. The data shows that there is only one woman as a general manager compared to 9 men, the same goes for an assistant general manager. For example, the total percentage of women in the administration of the Ministry of Education is less than 10%. This means although the Ministries of Education have reached the gender balance in terms of numbers, it does not succeed in giving women opportunities in administrative positions!

In the Ministry of Higher Education, the ratio reached a gender balance and come about half in the distribution of departments. However, for the Ministry of Interior, it is the worst in employment and for women administrative as well. After that, all of Health, Youth, and Immigration ministries did not succeed in gender balance in senior management positions.

In an interview that I conducted with Amal Jalal, a member of the Supreme Council for Women’s Affairs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, she indicated to the most important reasons that led to the lack of access of women to senior management positions. She said, most of the reasons are related to the nature of Iraqi society and its perception of the role of women primarily. In order to improve the state of gender balance in Iraq, we must start with practical solutions and applications within ministries. For example, the Iraqi government must guarantee the right of women in departments in the constitution, similar to the achievement of the right to participate in parliament by women at 25%.

Amal added we should work to qualify women through participation in training courses to receive these tasks. Also, the state must set a certain percentage for women in the government and private sectors, because, according to the Labor Law, we can stipulate the companies and organizations to take the right of women to employment into account. She also said that women’s lack of access to managerial positions is due to lack of experience, as most women do not have the desire to assume managerial positions.

 The Supreme Judicial Council and the Ministry of Planning worked well on the issue of the inauguration of women as general manager. Also, the Ministry of Higher Education, Judiciary, Central Bank, and Justice worked to install women as an assistant general manager in an excellent way. In these ministries, the percentage of women as an assistant is more than half, especially in the Ministry of Higher Education; the proportion of women exceeds twice the men, which is 75 %.

Conversely, in some Iraqi ministries and bodies, the percentage of women as a general manager or as assistant general manager is absent. For example, the Ministry of Immigration, Cabinet, Interior, Sunni Endowment, Shi’ite Endowment, High Commission, Higher Education, Health, Youth, and Sports the number of women as a director is non-existent. Likewise, for women as assistant general manager, the Ministry of Industry, Environment, Oil, Interior, Health, and Integrity Commission neglected the inauguration of women and they did not have women as assistant general manager.

Training and Educational Attainment

According to the number of employees for both sexes, there is equal opportunity for training in Iraqi ministries. Also, an increase in educational attainment for women employees has also been observed.

Training is an important process to promote work with the principle of gender and the advancement of women. This will be achieved by raising the increase of skills, refining expertise, and raising the level of performance of women. According to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning for the year 2018, the percentage of women employees who attended conferences and external courses was less than a third of the percentage of men; meaning for every 3 women there are 7 men. However, out of the total number of employees in ministries, men participated in approximately 10%, and the total number of female employees in internal courses is approximately 11%. Thus, despite the limited participation of women in the career field, the gender gap tends to be in favor of women. Also, for external courses, the participation rate of both men and women employees is 1% of the total of each of them. As a result, we find equal opportunities for both sexes.

As for the educational level of women, the number of women employed with the degree of diploma and bachelor’s. As a proportion of women holding a bachelor’s degree in all Iraqi ministries has reached more than 40%.

The survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning, it was found that the educational attainment of men is greater than women. Men constitute almost twice the proportion of women. However, when studying the relative distribution of the educational level, we notice the number of illiterate men workers and those with a primary certificate in Iraqi ministries are more than women, which is approximately 11%. While the number of women increases at the educational level for diploma and bachelor degrees. Where the percentage of women holding a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate is almost 40% within all ministries. Especially the proportion of Female Employees with Bachelor’s and Diploma Degrees is more than half in some ministries, such as the Central Bank, Construction, Housing and Education.

In terms of educational attainment, out of every 3 men, there are 2 women across all ministries. Despite the men proportion is still larger than women, we find that women holding a bachelor’s degree are 41%, which is considered good points in all ministries.  Furthermore, the portion of female employees holding bachelor’s degrees and diplomas is more than half in some ministries such as the Construction, Housing, Education, Finance, and Higher Education. This means that women are more qualified in these ministries, and there are more opportunities to access administrative positions supreme in Iraq.

What Can Be Done To Achieve Gender Balance In Iraqi Ministries?

In order to achieve gender equality in the ministries, the government needs to employ about one million women within all Iraqi ministries for gender balance, because the portion of women is only %28; the ministries need to install 855 women in senior management positions.

The portion of women in senior management is approximately 12%, compared to the %88 positions for men. In order to achieve gender equality in ministries, the Iraqi government needs 855 women to appointed senior management positions. In other words, the government has to increase the number of women in managerial positions from 128 to 983.

It can be said that there are three aspects that can increase the possibility of women reaching higher administrative positions, namely, the number, the scientific level, and the opportunity.

First, in terms of numbers, there are some ministries, such as the Ministry of Education and Finance; women are more likely to be employed in senior management than men. While the Ministry of Interior and Planning has a poor portion of women employed.

Secondly, in terms of scientific level, it is possible for women to obtain a senior management position in more than five ministries and government bodies, which are the Central Bank, Construction and Housing, Education, Finance, and Higher Education. Women in these ministries make up more than half; their numbers are especially very high in the Central Bank and Reconstruction. While access to senior management in the Interior and Oil ministries is very small.

Third, with regard to giving women the opportunity to access senior management, the Judicial and Education Council has a greater opportunity for women, which are more than half, 63%, and 50%, respectively. On the contrary, the Ministry of Health’s opportunity for women is very remote.


واقع النوع الاجتماعي في وزارات ومؤسسات الدولة في العراق, قسم إحصاءات التنمية البشرية جهاز المركزي للإحصاء، 2018