New York, 14 October 2015 – Participants in the Gender and Conflict Forum emphasized the importance of addressing, with great resolve, systematic violations committed against women and girls in conflict areas across the Arab region, which they highlighted has intensified in an unprecedented pace and in varying forms, from physical to sexual violence—including murder and rape— because of limited efforts for prevention and for the provision of relief, recovery and rehabilitation services to victims.
“In 2013 alone, the UN assisted 38,000 Syrian victims of gender-based violence,” said Karama Founder and CEO Hibaaq Osman. “Women are more vulnerable than men in conflict situations.”
The League of Arab States (LAS) organized the forum in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Arab States, and the regional NGO Karama to mark the 15th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Hosted in the UN headquarters in New York, the forum drew wide participation of experts and high level officials from the UN, LAS and their Member States.
“On the anniversary of UN resolution 1325, the League of Arab States wished to solemnly highlight the dangerous conditions and wide range of violations that women face in the many conflict areas raging across the Arab region today, in which women are usually among the first victims.” said Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General of the LAS and Director of Communication and Media. “Today’s meeting underscores the League’s solid commitment to formulate effective and practical tools to strengthen women’s response capacities in times of war and conflict,” she added.
Abu Ghazaleh stated that the LAS, with support from the European Union and UNDP, implemented during the period 2009-2014 a regional programme on the “Preventive and Effective Response to Crises”. For the implementation of the “gender and conflict” component of this programme, LAS has cooperated with the Arab Regional Network for Women, Peace and Security—a network comprising women leaders from 12 countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, which UNDP and Karama helped establish in 2013. Several, representatives of the network participated in the forum.
Sima Bahous, UN Assistant Secretary-General, and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director of the Regional Bureau of Arab States, asserted that “UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was historical in its focus —and for the first time— on the disproportional impact of wars and conflict on women, and its call for women’s full and equal participation in peace processes and for wider and more fair representation of women in decision making positions in these processes.” Bahous added, “During these times of unprecedented violent conflicts across the Arab Region, when women are bearing the heaviest brunt of violence, the representation of women as a vital element in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and in peace building, assumes special importance.”
The following contributed to the discussions: H.E. Ms. Cristina Gallach Under Secretary-General, for Communications and Public Information, United Nations; H.E Mrs. Dina Kawar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations; H.E Mr. Ioannis Vrailas, Ambassador, Deputy Head of European Delegation to the United Nations; Ms. Hibaaq Osman, Founder and CEO – Karama Organization.
Ambassador Ahmad Fathalla, Permanent Representative of the League of Arab States to the UN, who moderated deliberations of the Forum, reiterated the necessity to protect women from the violence committed against them by extremist groups, in areas of conflicts across the Arab region, and to strengthen their capabilities to contribute to fighting extremist ideologies and terrorism. “All of our work should be action oriented. We cannot achieve the goals of the agenda without the full participation of women,” he said in closing the session.
Debates of the forum helped shed light on forms of violence committed against women in conflict areas across the Arab region, highlighting the increasing use of violence against women as a weapon of war. Participants called for activating relevant UN mechanisms to hold the responsible parties accountable for their crimes and ensuring they do not evade appropriate punishment. They also emphasized the importance of protecting women in conflict areas against all forms of violence, and of involving women in committees and consultations pursuing conflict resolution, peace building and reconciliation, at national, regional and global levels.
For more information, please contact:
Ahmed Marii, Diplomat – The League of Arab States’ Permanent Mission to the UN
Noeman AlSayyad, Communication Advisor, Regional Hub in Amman – UNDP
Avni Shah, Senior Communication and Media Coordinator – Karama