Marrakech, Morocco – Yesterday, Karama, in collaboration with the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, commenced a three-day regional training bringing together over forty partners from Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. The training aims to bolster the capacity of civil society members to utilize and address key international human rights mechanisms for advocacy of women’s rights in the Arab region. It comes at a crucial time in the region, particularly for the six participant countries, which are facing periods of conflict, violence, and upheaval, situations that have disproportionately and adversely impacted women and children in particular.
“There is a huge gap between the prescribed ideal of women’s human rights according to the international conventions, which most Arab countries have ratified, and the practice and implementation of these rights in our societies. Women’s rights activists need to thoroughly understand the UN system and equip themselves with the adequate tools to outreach to decision makers in the international community and within their own national governments, and lobby them to qualitatively address these resolutions and implement them,” said Zahra’a Langhi, Co-founder of the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace.
From January 9th – 11th in Marrakech, Morocco, participants will focus on international conventions, standards, and mechanisms promoting equal rights for women’s advancement, protection, and security with particular emphasis on the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Arab Regional Training on Using International Mechanisms will feature speakers from the Arab region, as well as international experts who will address additional mechanisms such as the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and engagement with UN Special Rapporteurs.
“In the Arab region, we need more women to seek the ratification of CEDAW’s Optional Protocol, to pursue a place in politics and decision-making, take leadership positions, and take charge of the implementation of the convention,” said Shanthi Dairiam, Founding Director of the International Women Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
Karama has worked with partners for over eight years to submit stakeholder and shadow reports and share in-person recommendations at official reviews at the United Nations in Geneva and New York, as well as in other fora. The Arab uprisings and their aftermath have added renewed urgency to women in the region, who have witnessed extreme backlash legally, physically, socially, economically, and politically and with regard to their full and equal participation in society.
As a result of the training, partners will be better equipped to engage with existing mechanisms, including the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March, and launch related advocacy efforts.
“Don’t give up because change does not happen quickly,” Jane Connors, Chief of the Special Procedures Branch of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, advised. “Don’t give up because it is slow. Change takes time.”
Following the training in Morocco, Karama, with the support of the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, will facilitate a regional consultation to allow participants to integrate lessons learned into existing national action plans.