As Afghanistan and Iraq enter a difficult transition period, women in these countries are increasingly vulnerable to having their rights and opportunities set back at least a generation. Deteriorating security in both countries also places women on the front lines again.
• In Iraq, the women’s rights movement has stagnated, quotas protecting women’s political inclusion risk being eliminated, and efforts have stalled to revise Article 41 of the Iraqi Constitution, the problematic article that relates to personal status laws.
• In Afghanistan, women continue to be largely excluded from the peace process, and reconciliation efforts with the Taliban could undermine the significant gains women have achieved since 2001.
• Advancing women’s empowerment is an essential priority for the transition in each country as it can contribute directly to sustainable stability. The current transition period represents a critical time to assess lessons learned from U.S. engagement in both countries, particularly regarding women’s programming.
• Undertaking such an assessment is timely and important given serious budget constraints facing the foreign affairs community, potential donor fatigue, and limited resources.
• By identifying common challenges and best practices, these lessons can carry over into future programming for women in conflict and postconflict zones, thus making such projects more effective.
• The lessons learned and best practices that emerge from this project will inform implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.