Baghdad, the second largest capital in the Arab world, has appointed the first female mayor in its illustrious history, Dr. Thikra Muhammad Alwash. Not only is Dr. Alwash the first female mayor of Baghdad but when she assumes office on Friday (20th February 2015), she will be the only female mayor of a capital city out of the 22 Arab League nations.
The appointment of a female mayor comes as a positive step in breaking the barrier of a male-dominated political scene in Iraq. Women were given a quota in parliament through the Iraqi constitution to hold at least 25% of the seats (82/328). Although Iraqi women currently have 83 seats in parliament, there are only two female ministers out of 29 and there are no women in an executive position nor a female governor out of all eighteen provinces. Dr. Alwash’s appointment places an Iraqi woman in an important political position, empowering her to play an active role rather than just having an empty presence in a dynamic political scene.
The appointment of an Iraqi woman for mayor of Baghdad is seen as an impressive move by Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi. However, Dr. Alwash’s appointment based on credentials is what makes the Prime Minister’s move even more impressive. Dr. Alwash is not affiliated with any political party and so her appointment is not of any political gain for Prime Minister Al-Abadi. His decision seems to have been purely based upon her credentials and her potential to serve the ever-deserving people of Baghdad to the best of her abilities. Dr. Alwash born in Hilla (100 KM south of Baghdad) has a Ph.D. in civil engineering and is transferring from her current position of Director of Projects Department in the Ministry of Higher Education. Based on her credentials and history, Prime Minister Al-Abadi is confident in tasking Dr. Alwash with the rebuilding of a war-torn city that has seen little development since the invasion in 2003.