Skip to comments.Initiatives Aim to Employ Iraqi Women
Posted on 03/26/2009 4:42:15 PM PDT by SandRat
BAGHDAD The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) here announced two initiatives that will help Iraqi women get work with the Corps Gulf Region Division (GRD).
GRD unveiled the initiatives at the Women-Owned Business and the Future Conference at the Rasheed Hotel here, March 21.
U.S. Navy Capt. Joseph Konicki, director of military programs, GRD, told the 50-member audience the Division set aside a percentage of contracts in the Foreign Military Sales and Iraqi Security Force Funds programs to award to women-owned businesses here.
This is the first time GRD is tapping a portion of its Foreign Military Sales program, which is ultimately funded by the Government of Iraq to build its own military-related infrastructure. The additional Iraqi Security Force Funds program, which will also have a portion set aside for Iraqi businesswomen, is U.S-funded.
Konicki said Iraqi businesswomen are welcome to bid on contracts for any projects they feel competent to complete, not just the percentage of work specifically set aside for them.
The conference, organized by Azza Humadi, program manager for GRDs Womens Advocate Initiative, opened a dialogue for strategies to keep the program running when U.S. forces withdraw.
I personally believe that we have made great strides in the last few years of supporting Iraqi women-owned business, said Brig. Gen. William Phillips, commander, Joint Contracting Command - Iraq and Afghanistan (JCC - I/A), but in the end, I do not think that what we have done is enough.
I think it is important that we maintain the momentum that we have achieved to date of making women a stronger and larger contributor to the Iraqi economy, Phillips continued.
That theme also was expressed by representatives of the Government of Iraq.
"We feel we are on the threshold of a new era in which the woman is looking forward to playing a big role in political, economic, social, and cultural life," said Iraqi Parliament member Shatha al-Musawi. "The global financial crisis and low oil prices have forced the Government of Iraq to resort to an ascetic budget. That stopped the hiring of new civil servants, so we are looking forward to the private sector to hire the unemployed."
The impoverished status of Iraqi women, especially the many widows in the nation, was reflected in a survey published March 8 by Oxfam International. Oxfam reported that 52 percent of the women in its survey were unemployed.
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