In November 2008, a Karama delegation of 15 women traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, to attend the AWID International Forum and to hold a panel entitled “Karama Movement in the Arab World: Ending Violence on Our Own Terms.” The delegation represented Karama partners and staff members from Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Somalia, Iran, Palestine, and Palestinians of 1948.
Karama’s visible presence and participation in the triennial international women’s rights summit raised the profile of Arab women leaders by including and amplifying their voices in the global women’s rights movement. In addition, the full and diverse delegation provided a key and valuable opportunity to strengthen the regional solidarity and linkages among Karama’s regional network of violence against women activists across the Middle East and North Africa.
The theme of the conference, “The Power of Movements,” highlighted the need to strengthen movements worldwide in an effort to advance women’s rights and gender equality. With over 2000 participants, just 6% were from the MENA region, and Karama delegates accounted for 16% of all MENA representatives. After feedback Karama delegates provided at the 2005 forum held in Bangkok, Arabic became one of the official languages of the forum in 2008, which meant that one panel in each session always had simultaneous translation into Arabic. In addition, fundamentalism was a very central issue of debate at the conference, giving more voice to ideas, stories and issues coming from the MENA region. In comparison to previous forums, there was a significant effort by AWID to give more space to Arab/Muslim voices.
The Karama Panel was entitled Karama Movement in the Arab World: Ending Violence on Our Own Terms
Arab women have launched a new initiative to end violence against women, calling it ‘Karama,’ the Arabic word for dignity. Building on their hard work and experience as activists in their home countries, women from across the Middle East and North Africa have advanced the Karama initiative nationally, regionally, and globally. They have done so through face-to-face consultations, conferences, and advocacy before their national governments, the Arab League, and the UN. By convening, fostering women’s analysis of violence, and then implementing joint campaigns from the community level up to CEDAW, the Karama model builds trust, creates a shared vision to end violence against women, and raises the visibility and leadership of Arab women. Karama brings together women activists, academics, and community leaders to strengthen and amplify their voices, and to foster regional awareness and trust in an effort to create a platform for women to work together and take full control of their futures.
To read more about the AWID forum please visit http://www.awid.org/forum08/