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New Threats on the Centennial of the International Women’s Day

GIHR welcomes, on the centennial of the International Women’s Day, men and women around the globe who struggled to realize women’s rights during the last century, especially those men and women who participated, struggled, and lost their lives in the recent peaceful demonstrations throughout the Arab region.

GIHR joins the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which was addressed, on this occasion, to the new governments in Egypt and Tunisia to ensure that the new constitution, in both countries, will include the comprehensive rights of women, emphasizing that women’s rights should stand on the top of new priorities, and that no society which excludes women from the political process can qualify as a democratic society.

We affirm that despite all the progress made over the last hundred years, various challenges are still facing women and girls along the way of full equality, peace, and development.

In the decision-making sphere, political participation of women has been improving over the years. According to the International Parliamentary Union, women represented 19.1% of parliamentarians in the world in 2010. This constitutes a qualitative shift over the last decade since the share of female parliamentarians was only 13.1% in 2000. Still, however, this share falls short of achieving the sought-after gender balance in political activity, especially since women assume high echelon political positions such as the presidency or premiership in only less than 10% of world countries. In the Arab region, the share of women in parliamentary seats in 2010 was 11.7%, which was only 3.4% in 1995.

The celebrations of the International Women’s Day focused this year on equality of access to education, training, and science and technology because of the high impact of these on the economic, political, and social empowerment of women. It is only through technology, education, nd training that women can exercise their full role in sustainable and comprehensive development processes. Studies have shown that maintaining the gap between men and women in access to technology and education tools and services beside markets and financial services, negatively affects the human security of men and women as well as basic rights.

According to a recent FAO study, when women in rural areas possess the same means as men to access agricultural and science and technology resources, agricultural output can increase which will contribute to cutting down the number of starving population in the world by 150 millions.

GIHR sheds light, on this occasion, on the Security Council Resolution (1325) issued in 2000, which recognized the impact of war on women and the role of women in peace-building, which was emphasized in 2008 through SC Resolution (1820) that recognized sexual violence in conflict situations as a security issue which require a security response.

GIHR points out that to date a total of 187 states ratified the UN Convention to End all forms of Discrimination against Women, while 116 states ratified the optional protocol attached to it, which grants women, as individuals or as a group, the right to file complaints related to direct violations of their rights to the Committee on Ending All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, beside providing for petition for investigation. While GIHR welcomes the ratification of all Arab states, except Sudan and Somalia, of the convention in question, it hopes that all countries will follow suit with regard to the optional protocol. So far, there are only two Arab states which have ratified the optional protocol attached to the convention. GIHR hopes that Arab states will withdraw all reservations they raised with regard to some articles of the Convention because many of these reservations contradict the basic objective and purpose behind establishing this convention.

GIHR also continues, in collaboration with all partners all over the world, its activities for the current year which aim to empower women and raise awareness on issues of women rights. There is still much to be done to end gender discrimination especially in the light of new threats such as climate change, proliferation of food insecurity, and the global financial crisis.

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