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Zekra Alwach, a civil engineer and director general of the ministry of higher education, becomes the first female to be given such a post in the whole country, where international rights groups have condemned women’s rights abuses. As mayor,the most important administrative position in the capital, Alwach will deal directly with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and has the prerogatives of a cabinet minister.
Alwach’s appointment is a breakthrough for gender equality in Iraq, where rights groups say, discrimination and violence against women is widespread.According to a U.N. report last year, at least a quarter of Iraqi women aged over 12 are illiterate and just 14 percent enter the world of work.