Even an admiring profile of Baghdad’s 1st woman mayor struggles

by Rashmee

Posted on July 22, 2015



Thikra Alwash at her desk
Thikra Alwash hard at work

There’s been a lot of talk of dynamic city mayors going on to govern countries (even rule the world in the title of Benjamin Barber’s book ‘If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities’) but Baghdad’s first woman mayor Thikra Alwash may not be one of them.

Not only is Ms Alwash unelected (she was appointed by Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi a few months ago), but even an attempted hagiographical profile struggles to portray her as any more than a competent paper-pusher. Click here for OZY’s story on Ms Alwash. And note the following line: “…she was director general for the Ministry of Higher Education, where she earned herself a reputation as a competent decision-maker.”

And also take in Ms Alwash’s stated agenda for action: “Bring a bit of good old-fashioned populism to the people — seeking ‘direct contact with the people’.”

It’s hard to make out if it’s poor writing, inadequate editing or Ms Alwash herself that limit the adjectives – and the horizon, but it does seem that she is no Matteo Renzi (former mayor of Florence and now prime minister of Italy, or indeed Boris Johnson, Rudi Guliani or Ken Livingstone.

Or so it would seem right now. That said, she is the first leader of any capital city in the Arabic world. There’s a platform that could launch a career.


Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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