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Arab First Ladies call for greater empowerment

posted on 12/11/2008: 1911 views

Arab First Ladies called yesterday for greater empowerment of women in the Arab World so as to play their vested role in serving and building their countries and communities on equal footing with their male partners and communicating with other peace-loving nations for the sake of maintaining and bolstering human security collectively.

They stressed the need for promoting Arab-Arab and Arab-international dialogue cooperation for the service of human security causes.

Speaking before the second Arab Women's Organisation (AWO) conference, hosted by the UAE at the Emirates Palace under the theme: "Women and human security: An Arab and International Perspective", the wives of Arab leaders hoped the three-day forum would serve as a promoter of cross cultural dialogue to arrive at a common ground of understanding and betterment of human security.

They affirmed that woman is a proactive, vital factor in attaining human security and should be engaged in efforts seeking to realize that goal.

High profile speakers also paid a rich tribute to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of Arab Women's Organisation (AWO), for her dedication and commitment to progress of Arab women.

Asma al-Assad, The First Lady of Syria, said that since the beginning of the 20th century, women in the Arab World have been steadily defining their role in contribution to their societies, noting that their efforts have intensified during recent times.

"The objective is not to carve out a new or different role for women, rather to ensure that their contribution is recognized and optimised. For our societies in the Arab World, this must result in a commitment to our nations security, stability and prosperity", al- Assad underlined.

She indicated that the region has been plagued by conflicts and instability for decades. This not only continues to have a detrimental effect on developmental efforts, but also, and more significantly, affects the overall level of human security. "One cannot discuss human security in the Middle East without addressing Israel's continued illegal occupation of Arab lands and its total disregard of Palestinian rights. Human security and human rights are mutually reinforcing, not mutually exclusive."

Al- Assad added that the current global financial crisis should not deter people, but total mobilisation of resources and capabilities are required, particularly the fuller participation of women in their societies. This can no longer be considered optional; it is a national, regional and global necessity.

Tunisian First Lady Leila Ben Ali underscored that women hold a central and fundamental place in the comprehensive notion of human rights, with its political, economic, social and cultural dimension, including the solidarity rights, which consist essentially the right to development, the right to a safe environment, and the right to peace.

She emphasised that eradication of illiteracy, poverty and achieving of gender equality in all fields, are essential foundations of women's human security and development as well.

Queen Rania Abdullah of Jordan, said the features of Arab world changed so much over the last 8 years, and especially after the launching of the Arab Women Organisation in 2003. "We are more educated and more determined to achieve and progress in line with creating active Arab community with women and men on equal footing".

"Though future is bright in Arab world as percentage of women increase in parliaments over the last 8 years, we need more 20 years to bring this percentage to 30 per cent and another 20 years to reach the percentage recommended by Beijing Conference. The road is long but we are speeding towards realising our goals", she added.

Her Highness Sheikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of His Majesty the King of Bahrain President of the Supreme Council for Women, referred to the "Bahrain Vision 2030" that was launched last month, and said that it is "a blueprint of long term plans for the national economy based on the concepts of 'sustainability for the sake of prosperity', 'competitiveness for the sake of development' and 'justice for the sake of stability'."

Sheikha Sabeeka underscored that the current global financial crunch required collective efforts to ease burden on Arab citizens.

Egyptian First Lady Suzan Mubarak reiterated that women suffer most human trafficking, violence, marginalisation, detrimental habits and poverty. Hence, they require development to empower them.

Suzan added that the empowerment of women would ensure their freedom and development as well.

On her part, the Sudanese First Lady Widad Babiker underscored that "we have to redefine the role of women in regard to human security concept to strategise effective plans in Arab perspective"

"We have to set a strategy that could be implemented and workable so that our children live in future which enjoys social, economic, environmental and cultural security", she noted.

Wife of Palestinian President Amina Abbas commended the role of Sheikha Fatima on provision of aid to many needy Palestinian families, adding that the section for the Palestinian women with special needs has been set up recently in Palestine.

"Provision of development and security in daily living spur stability, security and communities' growth naturally without violence", Abbas said, adding that the conference should address this concept with special focus on the Palestinian women, who lack the basic daily living security because of the Israeli occupation.

Wife of Lebanese President Wafa Suleiman, paid special tribute to the Arab women living in the conflict zones, particularly in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and others. Suleiman hoped the conference would focus on efforts to empower the Arab women in the crisis zones because the damaging effects in these zones hit them hard.

On her part, Mauritanian First Lady Takabur bint Ahmed said the resolutions of the conference would enable the Arab countries to take procedures in dealing with the challenges of globalisation with due respect to privacy and requirements of the development in the Arab world. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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