[I]n a rare show of public muscle-flexing by an Iraqi woman in a high-profile role, [Nawal] Samarai has quit in a rage, saying she had been given a Potemkin Cabinet post created to fill a quota for Sunni Arab lawmakers such as herself, and make it appear that the Shiite-dominated government cares about women’s issues.
“I tried. I tried hard, but every time I asked for authority they’d tell me it’s not a real ministry, it’s just an office,” the former parliament member said Monday, four days after submitting her resignation as minister of state for women’s affairs.
Samarai and lawmakers who supported her efforts for more power say the post to which she was appointed last summer was nothing more than an 11th-floor room in the run-down Council of Ministers building in the fortified International Zone, also known as the Green Zone. Because she was a “minister of state,” Samarai lacked the power of Cabinet members with full portfolios. There are 11 such ministers of state, holding posts that critics say were created to satisfy demands for Cabinet positions from various sectarian and ethnic groups.
“It’s not a real ministry,” said Nada Ibrahim, a Sunni Arab member of parliament. “It’s one room with a woman, no budget, no staff. It’s a trick.”
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