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Dr. Naziha Jawdet Ashgah al-Dulaimi

Known for Being

The first woman cabinet minister in the Arab World.

The first woman minister in Iraq's modern history.

Major Accomplishments

Dr. Naziha Jawdet Ashgah al-Dulaimi was an early pioneer of the Iraqi feminist movement. She studied medicine at the Royal College of Medicine. At the age of 19, she was one of the few female medical students at the college. In 1941, she graduated as a medical doctor. After graduating, she was appointed in the Royal Hospital in Baghdad, and then transferred to Karkh hospital. Throughout that period she was subjected to harassment by the security apparatus of the monarchy, because of her sympathy for the poor and the free medical treatment she offered them at her clinic in the Shawakah district. Transferred to Sulaimaniyah (in Kurdistan), her clinic once again turned into a refuge for destitute patients who received her care and support for free. From Sulaiminiyah she was transferred to other cities and provinces (Kerbala, Umarah). It is not sure if the humanitarian sentiments she expressed towards the poor, the free medical service she offered, and her patriotic political work were appreciated by the Iraqi governments of the 1940s

During the 1950s, al-Dulaimi was an active participant in the Iraqi Peace Movement, and was a member of the preparatory committee for the Peace Partisans conference that was held in Baghdad in 1954. She was also a member of the World Peace Council. Under the leadership and active participation of al-Dulaimi, the Iraqi Women's League developed and turned into a mass organization after the 1958 Revolution. The Iraqi Women's League achieved many gains for Iraqi women. In appreciation of its role and achievements, the Iraqi Women's League became a permanent member of the Secretariat of the International Women's Federation. Al-Dulaimi was elected to the Federation's assembly, and later became a vice-president of this international organization.

In 1959, al-Dulaimi was picked by President Abd al-Karim Qasim as Minister of Municipalities. She was the first woman minister in Iraq's modern history, and the first woman cabinet minister in the Arab world. She later assumed the post of State Minister in a later cabinet formation. During her government career, al-Dulaimi was instrumental in turning the vast slums of eastern Baghdad into a massive public works and housing project that came to be known as Thawra (Revolution) City—now Sadr City. She also helped author the secular 1959 Civil Affairs Law, which was way ahead of its time in liberalizing marriage and inheritance laws to the advantage of Iraqi women.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

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