Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. The secular and socialist Baath party held power from 1968 to 2003, when American forces invaded Iraq and Saddam Hussein, leader of the Baath party and the country’s president since 1979, was removed from power.

During the following presence of a military multinational coalition bloody insurgencies evolved. The last American troops left Iraq in December 2011.

However, immediately after the U.S. military completed its scheduled withdrawal from Iraq, tensions arose again between Sunni and Shiite political parties. The constitution promises women equal rights under the law, though in practice they face various forms of legal and societal discrimination.

Women are guaranteed 25 percent of the seats in the parliament, and their participation in public life has increased in recent years. Although they still face serious social pressure and restrictions, women have also returned in larger numbers to jobs and universities

In 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) took advantage of the tensions between the Shia-led government  and the Sunni minority  and took control of an area almost the size of Britain.

According the the President of Internation Red Cross, more than 10 million people live in the area. IS has imposed its strict and disputed interpretationof Sharia, where women are forced to wear the niqab and abaya, public beheadings and stoning for homosexuality and adultery are common, and non-Muslims are forced to pay a special tax, convert to Islam, or face execution.

Christians, Jewish and Yazidi women have been a particular target of IS, who has issued written permissions to take them as sex slaves. 


Total population (2015)


Female population


Total 0-14 years (female)


Total 15-64 years (female)


Total 65 years and over (female, 2015 est.)




Life expectancy at birth (women, 2013)

73 years

Fertility rate (2012)

4.1 child born/woman

Total literacy rate

81.54 %

Total literacy rate among females

73.7 %

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) for females (2004)

9 years

Female enrolment at higher education* (2004)


*Higher education is the degree after achieving the high-school diploma.