Granger Returns from Jordan - July 14, 2005
|July 14, 2005|
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) returned yesterday from Iraq and Jordan where she led a congressional delegation to help train and coach Iraqi women leaders on different aspects of setting up a democracy and also met with top U.S. military officials in Iraq.
Granger attended a conference with 150 Iraqi women leaders, including Narmin Othman, the current Minister of Women’s Affairs; Ala Talabani, an activist and the new Kurdish Prime Minister’s niece; and Safia al-Souhail, the new Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt.
At the conference, Granger learned from the women of the widespread problem of domestic violence against women in Iraq. Granger was told of a man who was convicted of a crime and who was able to send his wife to jail in his place, which is legal to do in Iraq. There was another incident of a husband cheating on his wife and as his punishment; Iraqi tribal leaders determined his sister should be raped.
The women asked Granger for her help. Granger will be setting up a group that will address the issue of violence against women with British Baroness Nicholson, a member of the EU Parliament, who was also in attendance at the conference.
Granger believes that there is no better time to ensure that the Iraqi women have a sufficient voice in their government and in society than now when the new Iraq Assembly drafts a constitution, which will determine the future of women’s rights in Iraq and which will have an impact on the region.
Twelve-hundred women sent in applications to attend the conference in Jordan, but only 150 were selected to attend. The vast amount of women wanting to attend the conference is evidence of the Iraqi women’s desire to have a stronger voice in their government and in society.
The Iraqi women made the point of how grateful they were to the American people for all of their support and also discussed other roadblocks they are finding in establishing a democracy and concerns they have for women’s rights.
In Iraq, Granger met with U.S. Army General George Casey, the Commanding General of multi-national forces in Iraq, and General Petraeus, who is in charge of training the Iraqi Security Forces. Gen. Petraeus said that they were turning the tide with the Iraqis and that they have over 150,000 Iraqi military and security forces trained. He said many of them are performing well in combat and/or security situations and that some of them are operating virtually on their own.
Granger has become a leading advocate for Iraqi women and wants to extend her support to women in neighboring Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan and Iran who are fighting for a stronger role for women in government and society. Granger feels the success of women having a voice in Iraq’s government is not only crucial to the success of Iraq’s democracy but also to the success of potential democracies in the region. Granger also feels it is crucial for the United States and its allies to continue to show their strong support for these women in the coming months while Iraq drafts a constitution and lays the framework for the principles and laws of their country.
Recently, Granger led a delegation to Jordan to help train Iraqi women candidates before the January 30 election. During the January trip, Granger discussed some of the aspects involved in running for office and what her experience as a U. S. Congressional member has been like. Granger has since been in touch with many of the Iraqi women including, Narmin Othman, the current Minister for Women’s Affairs, and Salama al-Khafaji, a very popular Shia leader and a newly-elected member of the Iraqi Parliament. These women have shown incredible courage in the face of personal death threats against them and their families and represent the future for women’s rights in Iraq and the Middle East.
Other members of the delegation include Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Susan Davis (D-CA).
Granger serves on the Appropriations Committee and the powerful defense appropriations subcommittee. She also serves as a majority whip. Granger is the first and only female Republican to serve in the Texas House delegation. Granger represents the 12th District of Texas and is currently serving in her fifth term in Congress.