Women have been serving in the Iraqi military for at least 30 years. The
women, long denied numerous benefits, have usually occupied administrative
Officials said the Defense Ministry has encouraged the recruitment of
women in the military. They said women would play a key role in the
modernization of the Iraq Army.
"Females are the hub of the community," Iraqi Deputy Chief of Staff Lt.
Gen. Mohammed Hussein said. "Now we are looking for women to prove their
roles in the Iraq army."
Officers have been offered courses on how to treat women in the
military. On Feb. 21, the military conducted a two-day seminar to discuss
women as well as human rights issues in the military.
"It is important for us to professionalize women in the army," Ms.
Omran, who deals with health affairs at the Defense Ministry, said. "Women
must accept the important responsibilities given to them. [Your] duty is
looking for better ways to do your job."
The U.S. military has encouraged women in the Iraq Army. During the
February seminar, female U.S. officers urged their Iraqi counterparts to
stay in the army despite societal pressure. At one point, the men in the
audience were asked to leave so the Iraqi women soldiers could speak freely.
"Your service in the army is historic," U.S. Army Col. Peggy Combs told
the Iraqi women.