UPDATE: Iraq: Women's minister to withdraw resignation

Nawal al-Samarraie resigned last month to protest the lack of resources for women, accusing the government of not making women's needs a priority.
Iraq's state minister for women's affairs said Monday she plans to withdraw her resignation after receiving pledges from aid organizations to help improve women's lives.
UPDATE on http://www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[157]=x-157-563647

The Sunni activist decided to return to her job after getting pledges for funds and support from international aid organizations. She also said more than 50 Iraqi women have offered to volunteer to implement the ministry's plans.

"The reason for my resignation was the lack of funds and human resources, but with the new situation I think I can work," she said in a telephone interview.

Al-Samarraie said she will present her request to be reinstated Tuesday to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office. The office could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it would accept her request.

Women face overwhelming hardships in Iraq, with tens of thousands of them left poor or widowed by war.

Oxfam, a British based charity, said Sunday that the situation has only worsened for many Iraqi women since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion despite security gains over the past year and a half.

A study released by the group showed that the overwhelming majority of the 1,700 women interviewed did not have sufficient access to electricity or drinking water, and 75 percent of the widows were not receiving the government aid they are owed.

All Iraqis have undergone difficulties, but women face the additional danger of being sidelined and unable to get jobs in a male-dominated society. Widows in Iraq, for example, traditionally move in with their extended families, but many families find it increasingly difficult to care for them.

Other problems for women include homelessness, domestic violence and the random detention of women caught up in U.S.-Iraqi military sweeps.

Critics say the Iraqi government has failed to address the needs of women as part of its efforts to rebuild the country.

09 March 2009

Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

Source: Associated Press