The Middle East Reflects on the Status of Women…

As you know (or maybe not, but be patient, the Knowledge Will come to You), in 1995, hundreds of delegates from different countries gathered in Beijing and committed to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a document that set a milestone in the history of Women’s Rights.
Throughout 2009, governments and NGOs around the world have been working hard at reviewing the implementation of the Declaration in their countries, assessing the Status of Women and questionning the discrepancies between national laws and women’s rights, a process that then lead to regional reviews. 
In 2010, 15 years later after the adoption of the document, the world is preparing itself for the Commission on the Status of Women to be in held in New York in March.
As a women’s rights NGO, we are trying to compile a survey, asking people three questions, which would give us an idea on what populations think about the state of women’s rights in their countries, and what the improvements have been. We will then compile the results that will be published in the World YWCA publication, Common Concern. Café Thawra will compile and analyse the results for the Middle East.
May I then ask you to answer these three questions, specifying what country you come from? It would be a very interesting initiative, and I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot:
  • Of the 12 areas of concern outlined in the Declaration, which in your opinion remain the most urgent concerns for women in your community or country? Which are the most urgent for women in the world? Please explain why you think this
NB: The 12 areas of concern of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are as follows:

Women and poverty
Education and training of women 
Women and health
Violence against women 

Women and armed conflict 
Women and the economy 
Women in power and decision-making
Institutional mechanisms for the advancement ofWomen
Human rights of women
Women and the media
Women and the environment
The girl child

  • In your opinion, which of these areas have notably improved or worsened in the past 15 years for women in your community, country, or the world? Please explain why you think this and feel free to provide any relevant statistics.
  • Can you share any strategies that have been successful in your community, or country in achieving progress in any of these areas? Or do you have any suggestions for new strategies for YWCAs to try?

Thank you so much in advance for your reflection on this matter! Let’s express ourselves on Women’s Rights! 

One Response to “The Middle East Reflects on the Status of Women…”
  1. These questions require some serious thinking and I apologize if I did not really go in depth in my analysis or answers. I just decided it would be better to write things as they come to mind rather than taking ages to research the right answers, and then ending up not posting anything 😉 I hope I have the time to come back here and elaborate some more though ;)COUNTRY: LEBANONCURRENT RESIDENCE: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES–QUESTION 1:All of the areas are obviously critical to maintaining a just and equal society. However, if I were to choose just one, I would definitely go for Education and training of women for a simple reason: an educated woman will come to understand all the remaining 11 areas and will find the tools to best successfully implement these areas within the society she lives in. Education cannot directly eradicate poverty, but it definitely builds the right knowledge to counter poverty conditions. Proper education definitely allows for a better understanding of Health issues and how to effectively fight them. Education is also the most important (if not the only?) weapon against violence which always originates from ignorance and misconceptions. With the right education, women can play an active part of conflict resolution processes. It goes without saying that educated women can be enabled through appropriate knowledge to understand and better the economy in their respective countries. The same applies to all the remaining areas, obviously.–QUESTION 2: I do not have any figures to support my statements, but I do believe that awareness on domestic violence is gradually growing thanks to the efforts of various organizations in Lebanon. We’ve seen some progress with women in power in the Arab world as well which is well-known for being patriarchal to the core. And surprisingly enough, these women have successfully played their part in Islamic countries that could seem to be more oppressive and reluctant to sharing power with women (I’m mostly thinking of the Gulf countries like Qatar or the UAE where women have not only been allowed but also been encouraged to take key positions). –QUESTION 3:Apparently, the efforts of some organizations have finally led to women being legally allowed to open bank accounts for their children. Which seems ridiculous and laughable elsewhere! Especially when it’s an insult to consider mothers unqualified to supervise their children’s money when all the other aspects of a child’s life are mostly managed by the mother! Basically, a mother is competent enough to take care of her child’s health which should be the main concern if you ask me; but she was considered incompetent in the eyes of the law (!!!) when it comes to protecting her child’s financial wellbeing. What would be a real victory in equality and justice would be to allow women to give their children the Lebanese nationality. I know of a woman who was raped, had her child and then had her father register the child as his own (i.e. as the mother’s brother) because the woman could not legally register the child as her own. When we consider that a woman carries her baby in her womb for 9 months and only she can identify the real father, it’s kind of ironic she can’t legally identify the baby as her own. It is noteworthy to mention that NGO’s have been working hard in trying to achieve these basic rights as soon as possible.

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