The Fragmentation of Women’s Rights in Post-Invasion Iraq



In post-invasion Iraq, the mobilization around gender issues has been central for the various actors of the political scene. On the one hand, women’s rights issues have been used by the US administration as a showcase of “their mission of liberation in Iraq,” justifying their imperialist project. As an example, Laura Bush emphasized “liberating Iraqi women” from the oppression of the Ba’ath regime. On the other hand, gender issues have also been used by the conservative Islamist political leadership (which arrived in power alongside the US administration) in response, which insists on the Islamic identity of this so-called “New Iraq.” In this context, the de-Ba’athification process and the institutionalization of a community based political quota system by the US-led occupation administration had dramatic consequences. The resulting vacuum of leadership  was rapidly filled by sectarian players, including politico-religious groups supported by their own armed groups, as well as by tribal leaders.