In conversation with Dr. Mazin Lilo Radhi – Counsellor to the Iraqi State Council and Law Professor
Can you describe yourself in two words or two sentences?
I work in a place I love, and I strive to succeed in it.
What did you want to do when you were younger?
I always wanted to work in a place where I would effect change.
Who is (or was) the most influential person in your life?
The most significant influences have been my experiences, not people. The personal circumstances I had to deal with and my experiences were harsh. I learned a lot from them.
What motto do you live by?
A verse from Quran says: “A person has nothing but what he strives for, and that his striving will be witnessed by God”.
How did you help change people’s perception of women working in the criminal justice sector?
I played a leading role in preparing, drafting and proposing several laws related to women rights. This included a legislative proposal on domestic violence and a guidance note on the compensation for Yazidi survivors of sexual violence, including victims trafficked by ISIL.
Currently, I’m working on developing standard operating procedures for shelters for female victims of violence. Together with another colleague from the State Council, I’ve also supported the development of other relevant legislation. I’m also a member of the higher administrative court, which enables me to resolve many conflicts related to work conditions for women in Iraq and their rights and freedoms. I played a crucial role in settling several administrative disputes.
What do you say to those who underestimate the role of women in the criminal justice sector?
Iraq was a leader among countries in the region that granted women the right to work, particularly in politics and judicial work. Iraq was the first country in the Arab League to appoint, in 1958, a woman in a ministerial role and, in 1959, as a judge. In fact, across different sectors, Iraqi women held influential positions for many years. Unfortunately, more recently, security issues related to sectarianism and extremism have affected women’s access to their rights, resulting in devastating effects on e.g., access to education.
What do you say to colleagues who have expressed reservations about working with/for female colleagues?
I don’t think this sentiment is widespread in Iraq just yet, and I hope we will not reach this point. That said, I think we can most definitely still improve the working contexts for women in Iraq.
What steps have you taken as a leader to ensure that the institution you are a member of champions women’s empowerment and advancement?
The State Council, a respected and reputable institution, has been in existence since the establishment of the Iraqi state. Due to its long history, it has accumulated many experiences. Today, the State Council enjoys independence and puts the interest of Iraq at the center of its work. As mentioned, we have and will continue to have an inclusive vision about legislation in Iraq, one that ensures women’s access to rights and freedoms.
What is your personal experience working with women and your institution’s commitment to promoting women?
Until last year, a woman led the State Council. I had the honour of working with her over the past ten years in her capacity as chairperson. I’ve gained valuable experience from working with her. Her work ethic and humanity were an inspiration.
Currently, we have many female colleagues working with us. Everyone can nominate themselves to chair the council without discrimination.
What is your advice to women looking for a job in the criminal justice sector?
The time is right for nominations to work in our institution. We need expertise, and we don’t discriminate based on gender. We look for competence, ability, and initiative; if you can demonstrate those, take the opportunity, and apply.
Dr Mazin Lilo Radhi is a law professor and taught at several Iraqi universities. Following his teaching career, he moved to work in the Shura Council of the Kurdistan Region, specializing in the settlement of administrative disputes and the administrative judiciary with expertise in legislative drafting. Currently, Dr Mazin works as a counsellor to the Iraqi State Council, where he is also a member of the higher administrative court, specializing in cases related to the rights and freedoms of citizens. He is also a member of the public commission specialized in drafting and preparing legislation, especially legislation related to violence and discrimination against women and victims of war. He has authored over 55 publications in this field.