BAGHDAD — Iraq’s female lawmakers are furious that only one member of the country’s new Cabinet is a woman and are demanding better representation in a government that otherwise has been praised by the international community for bringing together religious sects and political parties.
Although women make up a quarter of the 325-member Parliament, only two ministries were offered to women — with one refusing the post in protest — in the 44-member Cabinet sworn in Tuesday.
“We were shocked that there are no women in the Cabinet,’’ said Safiyah al-Suhail, a lawmaker with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, dismissing the lone female as a “minister without portfolio.’’
Suhail is among 50 female lawmakers who pushed for a fairer share by petitioning the nation’s top leaders, the United Nations, and the Arab League for more posts. The group blasted the prime minister and Iraq’s male politicians for not taking women’s political skills and their professional experience seriously.
Suhail demanded women get some of the 10 posts that have been temporarily filled, including one of three security posts.
The two posts offered to women were for a ministry without portfolio — a post with no job description, no budget, and no office — and for women’s affairs.
The women’s affair post was offered to Kurdish lawmaker Zayan Dakhil, who refused it.
“I am with her,’’ said Bushra al-Zuaini, the lone woman in the government. But, she added, “I will assume my position and I will prove that women can be successful in administrating executive posts.’’
Maliki acknowledged the absence of women in his government when he addressed the Parliament on Tuesday, blaming political blocs for failing to nominate more female candidates.