Dr. Nadje Al-Ali begins her brief paper with solemn reminders that the humanitarian situation in Iraq is deteriorating, and that many Iraqi civilians are struggling to survive under difficult conditions. The paper continues with claims that Iraqi women have been faced with new forms of violence since 2003. One form stems from claims that international forces have threatened and assaulted Iraqi women, and used them to pressure male relatives suspected of insurgency. (1) Al-Ali also states that Iraqi women are under increasing threat and pressure from Islamic militants and terrorist groups 'to conform to certain dress codes' as well as to "restrictions in movement and behavior."
The paper goes on with a critique of international "gender mainstreaming" policies in Iraq. Al-Ali asserts that, "gender concerns have been sacrificed to Ôgreater priorities' - namely, security and the political agendas of different sectors." Despite the violence and challenges facing Iraqi women, Al-Ali reminds the reader that Iraqi women aren't passive in their resistance, advocacy, and activism. Iraqi women's initiatives and groups are addressing both humanitarian gaps as well as practical and sustainable programs, such as computer classes and income generating projects.