Women - One half of our society

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Women - One half of our society
by Saddam Hussein
Translation of the pre-2003 Government of Iraq speech delivered By Mr. Saddam Hussein at the Third Conference of the General Federation of Iraqi Women on 17th April 1971.

Sisters,

Your Congress is a prominent event in the life of our people and our country .Throughout the pre-Revolution years, the women's organisation (of the Party) had various militant duties and specific forms of struggle in which women joined men in the political and social fields. There was no organizational framework capable of absorbing and expressing the aspirations of millions of Iraqi women and mobilizing their energy in the fight against imperialism and Zionism and in the struggle for freedom and a better life.

Under the aegis of the Revolution which was led by our Party, the Arab Baath Socialist Party, circumstances were created for the building up of some social organizations, which included an organisation for women - the General Federation of Iraqi Women – in addition to other associations for students, workers, peasants, members of the professions, doctors and writers.

Despite the backward conditions, which wasted most of their potential, women in our country have truly played a noble and prominent role in our people's struggle for freedom from imperialism, dictatorship and reactionary regimes and for achieving the pan-Arab aims of unity, liberty and socialism.

During the 1920 revolution in which our people gave their response to the British colonial occupation, and during the mass uprisings against the imperialist pacts and alliances, the unjust legislation and conditions and the corrupt, reactionary dictatorships, women took part and played a role which gave an example of courage and initiative and inspired bravery and enthusiasm in the hearts of the strugglers.

The women's organisation took a leading part in building up our Party and in its struggle to defeat the enemies of the people and achieve the Revolution. During the difficult period of the struggle when our strugglers were subjected to intense terror, the Women's Organisation of the Arab Baath Socialist Party undertook the active task of maintaining

Contact between the leadership and all Party organizations as well as between those comrades who had been arrested and those outside prison.

The women's organisation was also a mobilizing force among the people, channeling their protests and anger against the methods of imperialism and persecution and despotic actions practiced by the reactionary dictatorships against the Arab Baath Socialist Party strugglers and all patriotic and progressive fighters.

In every part of the homeland, the Iraqi Woman fought hard for her place in society until she achieved encouraging progress, which inspires pride and confidence.

Thousands of girls are entering schools every year and thousands of women go to work in factories, schools, hospitals and state establishments, apart from the great productive role performed by Women in the rural areas.

Education of Women is not restricted in our country to the primary stages, nor has women's employment been restricted to minor responsibilities. Iraq's five universities include a large proportion of female students and a number of women have acquired high qualifications in medicine and engineering. Some Women are now teaching in the universities. Women in Iraq have also reached high positions in the government and become ministers and directors general. Others are vigorously working in such fields as the judiciary, the arts, literature, research and journalism.

For the first time in the history of our country, Iraqi women occupied, after the Revolution, leading posts in the trade unions. The Agrarian Reform Law made no distinction between men and women in their enjoyment of all the rights granted by this Law.

The complete emancipation of women from the ties, which held them back in the past during the ages of despotism and ignorance, is a basic aim of the Party and the Revolution. Women make up one half of society. Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated.

Freedom is based on enlightenment, science and an understanding of the national characteristics of the country as well as on respect for the interests of the masses and the responsibilities of the fight against imperialism and Zionism. It must aim at the attainment of the national and Pan-Arab objectives. Such a freedom will be able to harness the potential of women in such a way that will lead to the building up of a free and unified country that is both strong and advanced.

We are all, in the Party and the Government, and in the social organizations, expected to encourage the recruitment of more women to the schools, government departments, the organizations of production, industry, agriculture, arts, culture, information and all other kinds of institutions and services.

We are called upon to struggle tirelessly against all the material and psychological obstacles, which stand, in our way along this path.

The obstacles, which stand in the way of women in the various areas of life, are greater than those, which are facing men. This fact makes it incumbent on all the awakened elements in society to support woman in her natural and legitimate endeavour to occupy her place in society.

Those who still look on women with the mentality and ideas of the ages of darkness and backwardness do not express the aspirations and ambitions of the Revolution.

They are at variance with the principles of the Party, which are essentially based on freedom and emancipation. Indeed, they are in opposition to every true desire for progress.

The Revolution is a leap towards an enlightened freedom, which is placed at the service of the people and of the progress of mankind in general. It cannot be a genuine revolution if it does not aim at the liberation of woman and the development of her material and cultural conditions.

Those with a despotic and overbearing attitude who appoint themselves as guardians of woman and place artificial barriers in the way of her emancipation and full participation in society are not rendering their country and their people any service. They are in fact doing harm to their homeland and their people. They are trying, consciously or unconsciously, to dissipate their people's potential and hinder its progress.

The women of our country are the descendants of the immortal Arab women who fought valiantly side by side with their men folk, wrote the poetry of chivalry and glory and participated in the great Arab heritage of civilisation. Thanks to their conscious commitment to the Revolution and the ideals and interests of the masses, and their correct understanding of the national characteristics of our civilisation and heritage, the Arab women, together with their Kurdish sisters and all other women of Iraq, are capable of following a correct path and playing their pioneering role in the construction of the revolutionary society.

The struggle against the camp of imperialism, Zionism and reaction, with all their modern means of science and destruction, requires committed, educated and free human beings. Any segregation of women or anything less than their full participation in society deprives the homeland of half of its citizens and half of its intellectual, productive and fighting potential.

An enlightened mother who is educated and liberated can give the country a generation of conscious and committed fighters. What a crime it would be against the younger generation if women were deprived of their rights to freedom, education and full participation in the life of the community!

Sisters, a great part of the responsibility of the struggle for the emancipation of women falls upon your Federation. But woman will not attain her complete freedom in this country until the achievement of the aims of the Revolution on the regional level and the aims of the Pan-Arab Socialist revolution within the Arab homeland.

The bourgeois concepts of woman's emancipation will not bring her any genuine freedom or either moral or material progress.

The commitment to the Revolution and the defence of its ideals and gains, together with the maintenance of the interests of the toiling masses, are the only way to the liberation of women.

Sisters, I wish your Congress all success and hope that it may arrive at the best formulas to mobilize the potentialities of all progressive and patriotic women. I also hope that this

Congress may adopt practical measures to strengthen the unity of the struggle of all Arab women throughout the Arab homeland.

May this Congress become an important turning point in the work of your Federation so that its activity will cover every farm, factory, school, office and every part of this society? In this way, your Federation will be able to spread among women the principles of freedom and struggle for unity and socialism, to combat illiteracy and ignorance among women, to arouse their enthusiasm for more learning and knowledge, to instruct them in the methods of community work and to encourage them to participate extensively in the life of the community and the new revolutionary construction.

This work is presumed to be the public domain in the United States because it was first published in Iraq before Iraq signed a copyright treaty with the United States.
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