June 17, 2014
Wishes, Demands and Priorities of National and Regional Women’s Organisations in the MENA Region
Women alongside men participated in the protest movements in the Arab world in 2011. From Tunisia to Bahrain, from Egypt to Syria women from all backgrounds demanded freedom, equality, dignity, justice and democracy. Did we hear them and listen to them?
The Arab Spring was at its core a non-religious, socio-political event led by young people unable to realise their full potential, lacking job opportunities and freedom. After the revolutions women have been told “to go back home”. Women are now confronting attempts to exclude them from public life, and violence is perpetrated with impunity by extremist groups and security forces. It is vital that steps are taken to establish equal rights between men and women as the foundation of democracy. As expressed by many women and women’s organisations of the Middle East and Northern African (MENA) region: there cannot be real democracy without the full and equal participation of women and men. Therefore we urge the International Community to continue to listen to these women and support their demands.
And in nearly each country women’s participation in parliament and government has dropped although more women are well and higher educated than men. Women were included during the revolutions in the fight for freedom, for dignity and equality, why should they be excluded from the subsequent democratic processes?
The Tunisian General of FIDH says: “women played an important role in the resistance to the dictatorship before and during the revolution. Along with the women’s associations, we are demanding equality with the knowledge that we won’t achieve it immediately. Obviously, not all parties are on the same wavelength on the issue of full legal equality. Clearly women have to fight again, like always. Women have to fight, because many societies remain patriarchal despite everything – the laws are unequal and the practices are too. And as always, women have to fight two – three – times as hard to ensure their place in society. But one thing is clear: they are keeping up the fight to ensure their full participation in the transition process and thereafter.” Does the International Community hear this message?
Women’s equal participation in political and public life remains an essential condition for democracy and social justice and are values at the heart of the Arab spring. These values are shared by the International community and constitute the basis of the Council of Europe’s policies. The present transition period is decisive for women’s human rights and thus for democracy. This report serves to give a voice to the women in the MENA region.
Encouraged by the IFDH report (see footnote) which focuses on the legal situation of women in 8 Arab countries, this report lists for the same 8 countries the wishes, demands and priorities as formulated by National and Regional Women’s Organisations in those 8 countries. Therefore let us listen to women’s wishes, demands and priorities, and work towards their realization.
International Alliance of Women