Rewaz Faiq breaks the rules in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where a small group of male politicians and two families control all aspects of political life, to take the presidency in Parliament.
Faeq, 43, who is known for her outspokenness, has consistently worn traditional, colorful Kurdish attire, even as she runs the parliament of the autonomous region in northern Iraq, where only 8 out of 10 women are housewives out of 111 members of parliament. Read also Amidst political mines, a woman steps forward to lead the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament 3 million voters go tomorrow to elect the parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament elects Fala Farid as its speaker In its first session, the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament postpones the selection of its speaker
Faeq saw her village being destroyed by the former Iraqi regime when she was 15 years old. She then joined the communist opposition before joining the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which was headed by the late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
Faeq says that Talabani, whose wife, Hero, played a role in the party’s affairs, “really believed in women and their capabilities.”
But today, “and although society is more open and tolerant in the issue of women’s participation in politics, there are fewer women politicians in the PUK.”
“There is patriarchal domination, discrimination and sexual abuse” in all political parties, while women have become “captives to the personal and political gains of male politicians,” adds the holder of a doctorate in law. Her words do not attract when she criticizes what she describes as “pseudo-politicians” who are for her just media personalities in a country where all media have a political orientation or partisan affiliation.
Women in this clan society, which prevents them from attending burial ceremonies or clan councils, have no space to prove themselves or raise their voice, even if it is in order to try to change traditions that allow them to be killed in the name of “honor” killings or to stop girls and women committing suicide as a result of oppression .
In the region, another woman, Fawzia Zainal, has been chairing Bahrain’s parliament since 2018.
For women’s rights activist Avan Jaff, for Kurdistan, Faik means what “Benazir Bhutto” meant in Pakistan.
In 1988 Bhutto was the first woman to head a Muslim country, while Faeq changed, according to Jaff, “the vision of Kurdish politics” and “given hope to Kurdish women with her strong presence.”
Late last March, an opposition deputy threw his boots with a superb face while she was chairing a parliamentary session. “It was broadcast live, but she did not lose her temper or her calmness for a second,” says Jaff.
After that, Faeq raised a surprise in a country where politicians and activists fear public criticism, saying, “If this was a personal targeting of me, I forgive, but if it was targeting Parliament, this is something I can never condone.”
Faeq, a mother of two, refuses to be “surrounded by armed men” in a country where politicians and armed groups are closely linked.
She says her out-of-the-ordinary attitudes and behavior have isolated her within her own party, adding, “At the beginning, that isolation frightened me, but today it makes me stronger.”
Faeq managed voting sessions on laws aimed at curbing drug and oil smuggling in the region.
But Murad Abdullah, a Kurdish nurse (about 30 years old), believes that Faiq is not doing enough about social issues in the region, which witnesses frequent demonstrations against the high cost of living and corruption.
“Every month, the government deducts our salaries, and Faeq and Parliament do not discuss it,” he says, but it is an important issue in Kurdistan, where two out of three families live from a state salary or subsidy.