Sunday, March 4, 2012

Challenges and prospects for gender equality in the context of the Arab uprisings.

El-Karama organized a one-day conference on March 2nd at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel. The conference was composed of experts and activists from within the Arab region, including women from Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunis, as well as global partners, amongst which from HIVOS and WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform.

The conference led to a concrete set of recommendations for the future:

Panel 1: Are Arab women shaping the future after the Arab Spring?

- Success for women will come from how well we are organized, ad what social and other resources women have. We must use our numbers to organize, to speak loudly, to counter what’s happening against women’s rights, to reach the political candidates, and to use the media.

- poverty and politics are the crux for women’s empowerment. We must work at the level of the village and in rural areas to end poverty and illiteracy, so that not just the Muslim Brotherhood is recognized for this.

- We have to play the game differently: we must build bridges around different players, bring youth, progressive men, bring all who are for human rights, equality, justice, ad freedom, and build a good connection to the religious men as well. We have to know what is the language the Islamist’s are using to get in power, and we must make new languages.

- We should examine and emulate each other’s achievements lobbying for equality in the new constitutions, such as article 19 in Morocco, and the electoral law in Libya.

Panel 2: striving for new constitutional rights in the context of Islamist electoral victories

- We must realize that Islamic trend movements are not uniform when it comes to their conceptions and discourse of women’s rights. There is a split between generations within the Muslim Brotherhood (older more paternalistic, younger more used to seeing women in decision-making roles)

- Women should not be holding ourselves to the standard of repressive countries, but rather to the most progressive countries on women’s rights issues

- Before blaming local political parties for excluding us, we should look at ourselves and rise to a higher standard.

- Gender must be included in the (new) constitutions

Panel 3: Women, peace and security: demanding accountability for implementing Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in the Arab region.

- 1325 is an extremely useful took for lobbying at international levels, and national action plans for 1325 must be written with the participation of all stakeholders

- 1325 and its children have suggested a new conception of ‘peace’ not as an absence of conflict, but as something that must be constantly negotiated and upheld even during periods of stability.

- 1325/1820 are not well disseminated at the national level, and more awareness-raising is necessary

- It is important to start working with men on peace and security issues

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