EU Project: Dr. Akeel Abbas Interviews Ms. Ruaa Khalaf

Dr. Akeel Abbas interviews Ms. Ruaa Khalaf, Feminist and activist.

Dr. Akeel Abbas interviews Ms. Ruaa Khalaf, Feminist and activist.  Having finished a Bachelor's degree in Cooling System Technology in addition to pursuing another degree in Business Administration (Financial Accounting), Ruaa sees herself as an independent and strong woman. She believes there are no specific jobs for women or men. Men can work the same jobs as women and vice versa. 

Ms. Ruaa believes that women are underrepresented in Parliament, in government and even in international NGOs. Most decision makings go through men. In Iraq women are seen as fragile, weak and in need of protection. Even as an activist and advocate for women rights, Ms. Ruaa has faced extreme difficulty in passing suggested laws regarding women through the parliament. 

Furthermore Ms. Ruaa points out that even with the 25% quota for women representation in the parliament, most of them are affiliated and involved with political parties. The latter having a 90 percent male decision making ratio. Thus, women in parliament have no real power to support women in the society. She recounts that once a female Parliament Member asked to have the law lifted that obligates a husband to get consent in court from his first wife, to be able to marry a second wife. 

Ms. Ruaa has been participating in demonstrations since 2015 and the protests of the 1st of October 2019 in Tahrir Square, Baghdad. The protests of October were predominantly male oriented. She mentioned how they were only 7 girls present during the beginning of the protests.

Ms. Ruaa played a prominent role in logistics support for the demonstrations by fundraising, gathering people, and, helping and guiding injured people in the medical units. She also points out that not many women stayed the night at demonstration sites, only few and all of them were old, not young; the mother of a martyr or related to someone in the protests or the bakers. Women never faced harassment in the demonstrations because the general atmosphere never allowed that, thus none dared. Men treated women as equal and as sisters. Participation of women in the protests allowed the demonstrations to be labeled as peaceful ones.

Participation of women in the demonstrations was turning point for many  women in Baghdad and Iraq., Many people began looking up to Ms. Ruaa and to respect her for her participation and role. Various marches began being led by other women.