Arbil, Asharq Al-Awsat- Befrin Hussein Khalifa, who is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, is happy to talk about being the youngest female parliamentarian in the history of the Kurdistan Parliament.
Khalifa therefore represents two of the most important sectors of Kurdish society, namely the youth and women, and these are two sectors of society that are currently facing a number of pressing social problems.
Befrin Hussein Khalifa told Asharq Al-Awsat that she believes that “cooperation and coordinating efforts between the parliament and the government will guarantee that many of these problems are surmounted, especially with the recent activation of the parliamentary role and the entry of a strong opposition force that will ensure the presence of genuine competition between parliamentary blocs to do their best to serve Kurdish society.”
Befrin Hussein Khalifa was born in the city of Halabja in 1983 and holds a BA in Law from the University of Kuysanjaq. She told Asharq Al-Awsat that she believes that there is now a big opportunity for women to get involved in politics in Kurdistan, adding that there are many female MPs in the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Khalifa said “as for the presence of women in parliament, there is a wide representation, and women are also present in ministerial positions and also the judiciary. This is evidence of the Kurdish leadership’s openness to women, as well as [evidence of] women’s determination to be involved in the various centers of political decision-making in Kurdistan.”
Khalifa also confirmed that “women are no longer the hostage of their families, and they no longer occupy a marginal or secondary role as was the case previously, for we as members of parliament do not feel any marginalization or discrimination, and on the contrary there is a continuous dedication to involve women in the parliamentary committees that decide laws and policies. We deal with our male parliamentary colleagues as equals, and we do not feel anything separates us from them.”
Befrin Hussein Khalifa also said that “the Kurdish [political] parties have a responsibility to give women a political or leadership role in society, and in their manifestos and regulates all parties confirm and defend women’s rights and women’s participation in [political] decision making and administration, but the lesson is in the application [of this] and not in repeating slogans in order to win electoral votes.”
As for the problems of the youth in Kurdistan, MP Befrin Hussein Khalifa said “if we study the current situation of the youth and discuss the causes of their mass emigration abroad we would undoubtedly uncover the causes of the great pressure that they are under here in their country. What is worse than this is that they are subject to mass deportation in European countries, and this causes huge psychological pressures [on them]. Therefore I call for the government of the Kurdistan Region to accommodate these groups returning to Kurdistan, and help them find jobs and opportunities that enable them to live an honest and decent life and help them to create their own future.”