The following is the text of Karama’s oral statement, which was approved for a High Level Plenary at the 54th Commission on the Status of Women:
On behalf of the Middle East Caucus, we commend and welcome the Commission’s call for the intensification of efforts by governments to fully implement the Beijing Platform for Action 15 years after its adoption by 189 governments, CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, the Millennium Development Goals, and other international standards to enact gender equality and women’s empowerment. There still remains a wide gap between the commitments made by Arab governments to these international agreements and their implementation.
The Middle East Caucus expresses its concern about:
- The deterioration of women’s conditions in the Arab region due to living in a constant state of armed conflict or the aftermath of armed conflict and occupation. We support efforts for just peace in Iraq and Palestine and we call for governments to adopt and enact the mandatory Security Council General Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, and 1889 to ensure the protection of women living under armed conflict and occupation, and to engage their leadership and expertise in the conflict resolution process. We also call for protection and enforcement of the rights of women refugees, internally displaced persons, women detainees, and women taken hostage.
- We are concerned about the limited resources and slow process committed to the creation of the new UN gender entity. Our recommendation is to accelerate the establishment of the necessary structure, operations, resources, and leadership.
- We reiterate our call for compliance with international standards and the ratified human rights conventions, by fulfilling the following:
a. immediate lifting of reservations on the Articles of CEDAW
b. signing the CEDAW Optional Protocol, and
c. harmonizing the national legal framework with CEDAW provisions and removing discriminatory laws
d. completing the fulfillment of the Beijing Platform for Action
e. pursuing the benchmarks set by the MDGs, specifically the 3 indicators set for MDG3 on Gender Equality, which include girls education, women’s political representation, and the women’s advancement in the workplace and economy.
We call upon heads of state who are meeting in September 2010 at the MDG Summit:
- First, to enact the gender strategies and indicators of each Millennium Development Goal. These are absolutely necessary to guarantee the success of the MDGS by 2015.
- Second, regarding MDG 3 on Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, to add an additional indicator on a reduction of violence against women and a stop to human trafficking, especially of women and girls.
Regarding trafficking, we urge governments to criminalize the perpetrators and the buyers and not the victims of the traffickers.
We have a final note on the international financial and economic crisis and its threat to the sustainable livelihoods of women. In particular, marginalized women, household workers, and migrant workers are increasingly the most affected and need immediate protection of their human and economic rights, as well as access and control over resources.
We wish to recognize and appreciate the fact-finding mission sent to Gaza and the UN’s Goldstone report. This embodies the UN’s support of the Arab region, and as representatives of Arab civil society and women’s organizations, we call for the continued partnership and support for our work together to enact gender equality, human security, and women’s rights and empowerment.