Call to Remain Faithful to the Sacrifices & Endeavors of Women of Arab Region Revolts

Equally like men, women have contributed in the Arab region to making the history of their countries as they stood in the face of injustice and tyranny and called for justice, equity, freedom, dignity, and equality for all without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, or ethnicity, seeking to establish a civil and democratic state based on equal citizenship.

Today, as the world as a whole commemorates the International Women’s Day, GIHR emphasizes the need to maintain women’s achievements in the Arab region which were by no means a gift or donation granted by any political authority, but were actually imposed by decades’ long struggle by women to get their full citizenship in terms of equal rights and responsibilities in the eye of law.

It is a historical responsibility for new governments in the Arab region to call for faithfulness towards the sacrifices and endeavors made by women and men together in what came to be known as the “Arab Spring”, and hence to draft the new constitutions and laws on the basis of equality of citizenship between sexes.

In the light of prevalent gender based violence during periods of conflict against authoritarian regimes, and the prevalence of impunity for violations against women, we call upon all stakeholders to render all means for women’s participation and fair and adequate representation in endeavors addressing these violations, as well as streamlining gender in transitional justice initiatives in accordance with international law and UN SC resolutions no. (1325), (1820), and (1888) on women, peace, and security (respectively). Special mention should go to the Palestinian and Somali women, who suffered for long time from living in armed conflicts, and the role they play in domestic peace-building.

GIHR indicates the need for the states of the region to adhere, during this historical period, to their international commitments arising from ratification  of international treaties which provide for women’s rights, and to speed up to cancel all discriminatory provisions in national legislations especially with regard to those provisions which deny women in many Arab countries the right to pass her nationality to her children and her husband, in addition to provisions of honor crimes, provisions which restrict the movement and employment of women especially migrant domestic workers, beside the need to enact laws which incriminate trafficking in women and girls in addition to domestic violence.

We repeat our call, for this year also, to Sudan and Somalia to ratify the Convention to End all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and other Arab countries which already ratified the convention to withhold all reservations especially those which contradict the primary purpose of drafting the convention. As for the optional protocol attached to this convention, despite the need to ratify this protocol which permits women to file complaints on violations of their rights directly to the Committee for Ending Discrimination Against Women, yet, to date, only Tunisia and Libya are the only two Arab countries which ratified the protocol.

For political participation of women in the Arab region, we hope that the downturn in parliamentary representation of women in some Arab counties, including Egypt, UAE, and Kuwait, will soon be reversed; and that such encouraging developments in the Arab world as the adoption of the act of safeguarding equality for nomination lists in Tunisia, and the introduction of women quota for female parliamentarians in Morocco, will be replicated.

GIHR hopes, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, that it will be possible to continue its activity to improve the status of women’s rights, especially with the launching this year of a training program targeting Arab female activists to enable them to use women’s rights mechanisms more effectively, beside its involvement in media initiatives aiming to enable the media to play a preemptive role in presenting a positive image of women in order to get rid of traditional stereotypes, and to establish a society based on justice and equality of citizenship.

GIHR compliment, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2012, the struggle of both women and men for recognizing human rights for women around the globe, especially rural women, for whom current year’s celebration takes as the major theme “empowering rural women  to end hunger and poverty”.

While priorities and details of struggle vary according to geographical location around the globe, starting with the endeavor to achieve equal pay and the struggle against the growing phenomenon of domestic violence in the west, to the struggle against corruption and authoritarianism in the east, all agree on emphasizing the universality of human rights for women, and that it is not possible to establish a society where political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of human beings are realized unless it is based on the principle of equality of citizenship for women and men alike.

Geneva Institute
for Human Rights

GIHR is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation based in Geneva.

Email: info@gihr.org

Tel: 0041 22 788 50 15

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