As a key activity, LADP supported the establishment of Women’s Affairs Offices within 9 Governorate structures – as interlocutors between women’s CSOs and other interest groups, including to represent women’s interest in provincial planning Committees. The approach has proven more effective than ah-hoc representation through women CSOs, whose focus and capacity remain extremely limited vis-à-vis the scale of deprivation, multidimensional problems and vulnerabilities experienced by women in Iraq. The Offices provide a successful mechanism to embed women’s perspective in local development processes, to advance women’s needs on the development agenda, and to drive continued empowerment of women.
The Offices were included in all strategic and spatial planning activities under LADP. This reduced the time and resources in attracting NGOs/women groups to each planning activity, while it also ensured ongoing, systematic and effective consideration for women’s needs across planning activities. Through these Offices, women comprised 20% of strategic planning Steering and Technical Committees, and all developed PDS/PRP include targeted measures to increase the socio-economic inclusion of women. The Offices also supported the mobilisation of women under LADP community engagement initiatives (e.g. Kreka’an Bazar, etc.).
To incapacitate these Offices – as well as to enhance the overall Governorate capacities in gender sensitive budgeting – LADP delivered trainings on integration of gender perspective in local area development planning for representatives of Women’s Affairs Offices. The trainings focused on the role of women in gender mainstreaming in the local planning process, developing gender sensitive indicators, gathering gender classified data, and building Governorate women/girls profiles to support baseline studies and plans. The trainings also provided forum for participants to discuss political and cultural impediments to gender equality.
The establishment of Women’s Affairs Offices has served to strengthen the role of women CSOs as both advocates and partners in the development process. Under LADP, the Offices have acted as demand-side interlocutors, but given further capacity building, they are positioned to facilitate links to support service provision and to become service providers themselves.