Fourth - Women’s Rights
All Arab constitutions tend to stipulate equality between all citizens and non discrimination on the basis of gender. However, there is a huge gap between what women face in their daily lives and the recognition of women’s rights as an integral part of the universal human rights system. Almost half of the Arab states did not ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Even ratifying states made some reservations that contradict the essence of the convention.
Even worse, conservative currents adopt the narrowest interpretation of jurisprudence (Fiqh), employ it against women and consecrate a culture that excludes women and confines them to traditional roles. This is in addition to official policies that are subject to extortion in the name of religion and that reproduce the anti-woman culture whether through laws, in particular the personal status law, or through educational institutions or media platforms.
Real equality between women and men goes beyond legal equality to encompass changing the conceptions of and confronting the stereotypes about women. Thus, it requires not only a comprehensive review of laws, foremost of which are personal status codes, but also the review and upgrading of educational curricula as well as the critical monitoring of the media discourse.
In this respect, the Forum confirms the following
1- Providing women with equal ’ opportunities in political participation through education and political and economic support. Women should be allocated posts in decision-making institutions or others to guarantee their full and effective participation. Allocating a quota for women in parliaments, representative institutions and public bodies as a temporary measure. This should stand until appropriate
frameworks for women’s voluntary activity take shape and until the awareness of the necessity of equality increases and all forms of discrimination are eliminated.
2- Repealing the discriminatory references in national legislation and promulgating civil laws on personal status.
3- Ensuring the right of women to grant their nationality to their children from foreign fathers, as men exercise such rights.
4- Combating all forms of discrimination against women particularly the unheeded ones e.g. family violence, sexual abuse, prostitution, etc. The governments should assume their responsibility regarding these issues through developing the legal mechanisms and necessary services to provide protection and treatment for the victims of violence.
5- The necessity of engaging women’s and human rights NGOs in the process of reviewing current legislation and in upgrading civil and criminal laws, with a view to resolutely confront all forms of vicolence and discrimination against women.
6 - Calling upon Arab governments that did not ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against women (CDAW) to ratify the convention with no reservations and calling upon ratifying states should amend their institutional, legislative and constitutional systems to be consistent with the CEDAW and should establish mechanisms of implementation and supervise the modified systems.
Towards an Iniciative for Political Reform in the Arab World