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Gender and Statehood in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Zeynep Kaya

LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series | 18 | February 2017


The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has made greater strides towards gender equality than the federal government of Iraq, with CEDAW principles and the Women, Peace and Security agenda internalised to a greater extent in regional laws and regulations. Women’s rights activism and some policymakers’ willingness to realise change have played important roles in this. However, discriminatory rules and practices still exist, and changes are not fully implemented and monitored in the Region. This paper argues that the Kurdistan Region’s policies of gender equality are linked to its dependence on multilateral organisations and Western states, as well as its government’s aspiration to gain international legitimacy for statehood. Long-term international involvement in the Kurdistan Region has strengthened Kurdish autonomy, integrated international actors into administrative, political, economic and social life, and created the perception that external connections are helping the Region achieve its ultimate goal of independence.

About the Author

Dr Zeynep Kaya is Research Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre and Research Officer at the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security. She is currently researching gender, displacement and the implementation of the WPS agenda in Iraq. Her wider research interests are in the international politics of the Middle East with a focus on Kurdish politics in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, as well as Turkish domestic politics and foreign policy.


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