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Cablegate: Union of Kurdistan Women in Sulaimaniyah

VZCZCXRO0344
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1442 1190534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 290534Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0949
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 001442

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KWMN IZ
SUBJECT: UNION OF KURDISTAN WOMEN IN SULAIMANIYAH

This is a Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) Cable.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Zhinan Union of Kurdistan Women (ZUKW)
supports the rights of Kurds to self-determination and freedom and
the opportunity for women to exercise a broad range of civic and
legal rights. ZUKW is supported by Iraqi public and international
agencies and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On March 29, RRTOff met with Kafia Suleiman, Founding
Member and Head of the ZUKW, as well as Shawbo Askari, Public
Relations Officer of the ZUKW, in their offices in Sulaimaniyah.
The two ZUKW members said the organization had positively impacted
the 1959 Iraqi Law of Personal Status, which no longer allows a
lighter sentence for men committing homicide as an honor killing.
On July 16, 2005, the ZUKW submitted modifications for the draft
Iraqi constitution to protect the rights of women. However, ZUKW
members note they have not received feedback on their
recommendations.

3. (SBU) The cause of ZUKW, Suleiman and Askari noted, includes
peaceful means for conflict resolutions and prohibition on the use
of weapons of mass destruction and mines. They said that since 1989
the ZUKW has run a shelter for women which hosts six to ten women on
a regular basis. The ZUKW also raises awareness of women with
respect to medical issues and treatment as well as legal rights and
sources of legal advice. The ZUKW has a wide range of programs
designed to develop the role of women in education, art, health, and
business, the two ZUKW members noted one project involves providing
financial assistance to households headed by women in Koysinjaq so
they can keep their livestock and not sell it for food.

4. (SBU) According to Suleiman and Askari, ZUKW has about 50,000
members. The Union is open to all women regardless of political
affiliation. It receives funding from Iraqi government sources, the
UN and the UK government. In addition, Jalal Talabani, Secretary
General of the PUK and the President of Iraq, also provides support
for ZUKW. A new office building of the ZUKW in Sulaimaniyah is
under construction and will include a guest house, handicraft area,
sports facilities, media and printing facilities, and a nursery.

------------------
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
------------------

4. (SBU) Kafia Suleiman is the wife of Omar Fatah, Deputy Prime
Minister for the Kurdistan Regional Government. She holds a physics
degree from the Baghdad University. From 1970 to 1985, Suleiman was
a high school teacher. From 1985 to 1991, she was an active member
of the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga (militia) force. During the period
1992-1999, Suleiman was the Minister of Municipality in Sulaimaniyah
Province (PUK) when Kosrat Rasoul was the Prime Minister of the
PUK's KRG. In 1989, she founded the Kurdistan Union of Women -
Zhinan and remains active in the Union. She is a close colleague
and friend of the Talabani family, in particular, Hero Talabani, the
wife of Jalal Talabani, with whom she founded the ZUKW.

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