Arab Women's Day
Despite the positive developments in working towards ensuring the full realization of women’s rights in the Arab region, the grim reality remains that many women continue to be
deprived of their fundamental right to a life of equality, non-discrimination and non-violence.
Considered to be one of the most vulnerable groups of people, women are the most
affected by violent turmoil and armed conflict, as they are often deprived of their civil and economic rights and subjected to heinous human rights violations.
Moreover, women are excluded from participation in public life and forgotten in the planning and implementation of peace and development agendas. Similarly, acknowledging the various cultural and social factors, including a dominant, masculine and conservative culture, poverty and tendency towards early marriage, the illiteracy rate among women in the Arab region is estimated at 26%.
Hence, in response, the Arab Women Organization declared the first of February as “Arab Women’s Day”, approved by the Arab Parliamentary Union during its thirty-fifth session in its ninth conference held on February 17, 1999 at the initiative of Mrs. Bahia Hariri, a member of the Lebanese Parliament at the time. The primary goal was to urge Arab countries to recognize women's rights and actively contribute towards accelerating its full realization.
The celebration of Arab Women's Day provides a valuable opportunity for organizations, States and stakeholders to recognize the contributions made by women, acknowledge the challenges that hinder their quality of life and enhance their ability to participate in the economic, political and social aspects of life.
Within that context, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights appeals to Sudan and Somalia to hastily adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and urges the rest of the Arab States to review and withdraw reservations made, especially on issues related to condemning all forms of discrimination (Art. 2), equal nationality rights (Art. 9), equality before the law (Art. 15), and equality in family life (Art. 16).
Similarly, the Institute stresses on ensuring the accession to the International Labor Organization Conventions, particularly : Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), and the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189).
On the other hand, the Institute calls on Arab countries to conduct a comprehensive review of their national legislation and to amend all provisions that justify or encourage discriminatory practices and stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women in society. Moreover, to abolish all remaining legal provisions that discriminate against women and girls and to amend the nationality law to ensure the full compliance with Article 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Finally, in celebration of Arab Women's Day, the Institute calls on the removal of structural obstacles that hinder women's access to decision-making positions in the judicial, legislative and executive branches, and highlights the importance of mainstreaming the rights of women and girls in national development policies and programs.