Monday (9 June) in the House of Commons, leading women’s rights activists launched their manifesto for a stable and democratic future in the Middle East and North Africa.
London, England – At a Parliamentary Reception held on women in conflict, female civic leaders from Egypt, Libya and Syria addressed MPs to provide an overview of the situation for women since the Arab revolutions, which swept the region at the end of 2010. The group was brought to London by Karama, an international women’s rights NGO based in Cairo. Their 10-point manifesto, launched at the reception, provides a call to action for regional governments and the international community for engagement and empowerment of women globally and particularly in the Arab world.
The manifesto was developed during a three-day conference held in Amman, Jordan on Gender in Conflict and Emergency, organised by Karama in April this year. The conference convened over fifty delegates from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Activists, together with gender experts and academics from the international community, including trainers from Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, looked at the gender dimensions of the conflicts, the challenges and opportunities women face and how gender equality at negotiation tables in peace processes can be supported.
A key theme highlighted at the event was the need for co-ordinated political interventions for the prevention of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict areas ahead of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict this week.
The three-day conference, organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and co-chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN, will gather together world leaders and experts to explore practical actions that can impact those on the ground to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict areas.
Karama founder Hibaaq Osman said:
“Many observers in the West believed that the Arab revolutions would see the strengthening of democracy across the Middle East and North Africa, but in many cases women have seen early gains lost or even reversed. Despite this one cannot underestimate the determination of Arab women to strive for democratic representation, greater influence in society and an end to violence against women.
“The manifesto they have launched in the UK today provides a call to action for governments in the region and internationally to demonstrate their commitment to improving women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa.”
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