Despite being the first country to implement a National Action Plan for UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, Iraq still lags behind when it comes to gender equality, and this gap extends to the security sector. Through research, observations, and engagement with civilians, government ministries, security forces, and international organizations, CIVIC found that Iraqi security forces are lacking female representation at the officer level, in training positions, and in tactical and operational roles.

In practice, the absence of women from Iraq’s security sector has far-reaching implications for the protection of civilians, including with gender-based violence resolution or operational efficacy for forces dealing with myriad challenges such as terrorist sleeper cells and the burgeoning drug trade. Although there have been some efforts to boost women’s participation in the military and police units throughout Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, there are still institutional, cultural, and practical challenges that inhibit women’s full and meaningful participation in the security sector.

This report, “Missing in Action: Women in Iraq’s Security Forces”, examines reasons behind the low participation of women in Iraq’s security forces, challenges faced by women within the forces, and consequences for the protection of civilians. Based on research and analysis, CIVIC provides recommendations to the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional governments, the security forces, and international partners working within Iraq on security sector reform.

Watch the virtual launch event here.