London, England (June 9, 2014) – Today women’s rights group Karama launched in a parliamentary reception its manifesto for a stable and democratic future in the Middle East and North Africa to UK politicians ahead of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict this week.
In a House of Commons lunchtime discussion event, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Warsi met leading female activists from the Middle East and North Africa, and spoke alongside Baroness Hussein-Ece in a lunchtime event hosted by Tobias Ellwood MP. The discussion focused on establishing strategies for women’s participation in peace and transition processes in light of the processes of statecraft that are ongoing in the Arab world following the Spring Revolutions.
Karama, named after the Arabic word for dignity, represents a coalition of national, regional, and international partners, to end violence against women and to promote their full and equal. The delegation from Karama will be visiting the Summit all week at the Excel centre.
Karama Founder Hibaaq Osman said:
“It is clear that women are disproportionately impacted by violence, but also systematically left out of peace and transition processes. . . We now want words backed up by international action, and supported by national partners and action plans on the ground.”
Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Warsi:
“We will be challenging the notion that sexual violence is somehow inevitable, an inevitable aspect of conflict, that the stigma is on the victim and not the perpetrator, that somehow faith is part of the problem but cannot be part of the solution.’
‘All too often, even when women make it to the table they’re not necessarily heard, women are not necessarily policy-makers but become instrument of policy. My message to you is, do not just be grateful, genuinely make your voice heard.’
‘It is our right [as women] to take a seat at the table, . . . indeed at all the tables that matter.’
Rt. Hon. Tobias Ellwood MP:
“This is not a women’s issue or a regional issue, but a global one. We are all implicated in the sufferings and limitations placed on women worldwide and today we are called to stand against it.”
“I can’t help but think, will the next generation look back at us and think- is there more that we could have done?”
“The costs of leaving women out of the processes of peace and state craft are too high for international civil society to bear. What is needed now is strong and co-ordinated leadership and a strategy of empowerment. It is no longer enough to speak about these issues – we must strategise with the communities in question how to take practical action now.”
‘On the news here we see the leaders, almost always men – we do not see enough of the women, of the people on the ground who are working