Senior Project Advisor

Anderson, Charles

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2020


Gender violence, sanctions, Middle East women, international relations, United States foreign policy, imperialism, Iraq, women’s rights in Iraq, United Nations


From 1990-2003, the United Nations, largely at the direction of the United States., enforced a strict set of international sanctions against Iraq with the goal of eliminating chemical weapons in Iraq and weakening Saddam Hussein’s regime. While the impacts of these sanctions were widespread and devastating, this period also saw a specific loss of rights and worsening of social and economic conditions for most Iraqi women. In this paper, I examine these understudied gendered impacts of sanctions, particularly on women’s participation in the workforce, education, and political arena; as well as their impacts on family structures and marriage, genderbased violence including honor killings, domestic violence, and criminalization of sex work. I also explore the specificities of women’s experiences under sanctions in Iraqi Kurdistan, which vary significantly in some respects from non-Kurdish Iraq. This paper argues that the sanctions not only impacted women similarly to all Iraqis, but actively reversed gains in women’s rights made in the previous decade. Furthermore, it argues that sanctions cannot be considered a nonviolent alternative to traditional warfare when they consistently harm the target country’s most vulnerable populations. This paper aims to complicate common understandings of the (non)violent impacts of sanctions as foreign policy and expose the regressive gendered implications of United States policy in Iraq.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Women--Iraq--20th century--20th century; Women--Iraq--Social conditions; Economic sanctions--Iraq; Women--Iraq--Kurdistān--20th century; Women--Iraq--Kurdistān--Social conditions--20th century; Economic sanctions--Iraq--Kurdistān

Geographic Coverage

Iraq; Kurdistān (Iraq)


Student project; term paper




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