Iraqi Women Are Determined to Make Elections a Success

Rep. Kay Granger
I had one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life when in early January, I spent two days with 20 brave and courageous Iraqi women. These women are seeking to be elected to one of Iraq's 275 National Assembly seats in the January 30th elections.

I led a bi-partisan delegation, that included three other members of Congress, to Amman, Jordan on what was billed as a meeting to teach Iraqi women how to campaign and how to operate their offices once they are elected. In reality, we learned more from these women than they learned from us.

These Iraqi women are risking their own lives and the lives of their family for an opportunity to be elected to the assembly, to write a constitution and to live in a truly democratic society. On the first day, we shared our personal stories about how we entered public life. By the second day, our talks turned from their own safety to the lack of security for the Iraqi voters, the lack of a properly organized election system, and insufficient information about the candidates and the election process. We heeded their pleas to ask the Bush administration to commit the United States to do everything possible to insure a free, stable and democratic election.

We were strangers when we met, we were friends when we left. I fear for each and every one of these women. The headlines detail daily insurgent bombings or kidnappings that aim to derail the elections. I know that these women and the majority of Iraqis are committed to holding the first real elections since 1932, and to creating a truly democratic society.

I was humbled by the bravery of these women to risk their lives to insure the future democracy and freedom of their country.

Kay Granger is the Congresswoman for the 12th district of Texas, and is the first Republican woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas. She serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is an original member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security. She sits on three important appropriations subcommittees: Homeland Security, Military Construction, and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education. Congresswoman Granger continues to own and operate a successful insurance agency which she built after a teaching career, and is a strong supporter of women- and minority-owned businesses. Additionally, she is House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s appointee to the 15-member U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.