News: US, Iraqi intelligence communities support female professionals
Story by Spc. Karen Sampson
BAGHDAD – The United States Forces-Iraq military intelligence directorate hosted a conference for Iraqi professional women in the security ministries July 26 at the U.S. Embassy here.
Approximately 20 women from Iraq and the United States, both civilian professionals and service members, met to discuss challenges facing Iraqi women in the workplace and how to address and overcome them.
Iraqi society, including the work place, tends to be male-dominant and can create challenges for women, said Cmdr. Helen H. Furbush, officer-in-charge, military intelligence capacity building team, military intelligence directorate, USF-I. This event was organized to recognize and celebrate the women that support the intelligence community.
“We are here together to look at our challenges and to be thoughtful of them as a group,” said Furbush. “Together as a group it is easier to solve problems.”
Members of the panel included Sally Holcomb, advisor with the U.S. Federal Government National Capabilities and Resources Office at the U.S. Embassy; Lee La Comte, director, military intelligence directorate forward, USF-I; Col. Cheryl Kearney, professor and department head of political sciences at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado; Diane Devins, executive director, DCG-A&T, USF-I; and Ban Shakir Alimarah, director and coordinator of the Iraqi Ministry of Security Affairs and former president of the Iraqi Women’s Alliance.
One issue discussed at the conference was what can be done by Iraqi women to improve opportunities for themselves and women in the future.
“Our point of view is to have a practical answer, to develop our society through education, training and to progress our capacities,” said Alimarah.
“Women represent more than 50 percent of the population of Iraq…you are all one-half the brainpower, energy and innovation that this country can produce,” said La Comte. “Without your contribution Iraq will only work at 50 percent efficiency. Iraq needs its women’s creativity and abilities to succeed.”