International Conference on Democracy, Political Reforms and Freedom of Expression

Report of the Third Thematic session - Sana'a, 25- 26 June 2006

The Thematic Session on the Role of Women took place during the Conference on Democracy, Political Reforms and Freedom of Expression held in Sana'a, Yemen, on 25-26 June 2006.
H.E. Asma Khader, General Coordinator of Sisterhood is Global Institute, Jordan
H.E. Ambassador Ömür Orhun, BMENA Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey
Dr Fatma Al Sayegh, Professor, UAE University, United Arab Emirates
Hon Safia Taleb Al-Souhail, Member of Parliament, Iraq
Dr. Nada S. Al-Mutawa, Professor – Kuwait University, Kuwait
Sanem Güner, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), Turkey
The participants,
Underlined the importance of freedom of expression, political reforms, democracy and education in enhancing empowerment of women;
Reaffirmed their commitment to advancing the implementation of all recommendations made at the two Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD) Symposia in Istanbul, and at the Intergovernmental Conference on Empowering Women in Public Life, held in Ankara, Turkey on 22-23 May 2006;
Shared their experiences, reflected on success stories from the Region and underlined the need of establishing a Gender Institute, which will focus also on gender desegregated data gathering from respective countries and regions for region-specific analysis and case studies, as well as making available scientific references;
Noted the need to empower and encourage public participation of young women and women living in rural areas;
Called for increased attention to be paid to addressing the needs of women with disabilities;
Stressed that a bottom-up, grassroots approach is essential to addressing these issues and highlighted the importance of training programs in capacity building;
Expressed concern about the representation of women in the media and recommended that effort be made to draft a set of principles governing the depiction of women in the media;
Suggested removing education curricula and materials, which channel those approaches that reinforce and sustain gender stereotyping;
Expressed concern about gender stereotypes which might be fostered within the family and called for them to play a positive role in raising awareness, and practices to address such phenomena;
Reasserted the significance and potential of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
Stressed the need to utilize the potential presented by some of the articles of the UDHR and CEDAW through effective implementation in the Region, by taking all the necessary measures that this commitment entails, including the narrowing down of broad reservations and ratification of the Optional Protocol;
Emphasized the need to further raise awareness of and conduct effective outreach about the UDHR, CEDAW and other relevant international instruments such as the ICC;
Stressed the crucial need to motivate legislative reforms on those pre-existing constitutional and legislative clauses that limit or discourage the role of women in public life;
Called for local solidarity amongst women to expedite and facilitate their actions in addressing obstacles related to role of women in public life;
Emphasized that gender sensitivity and gender mainstreaming are important in addressing the issues and documents related to women’s role in public life;
Regretted the prevalence of gender inequality in all walks of public life and reaffirmed the importance of special temporary measures for women;
Encouraged the participation of women in electoral processes and the importance of taking steps to facilitate their further involvement in public life;
Re-emphasized that Islam encourages participation of women in public life and does not stand against the empowerment of women;
Welcomed the incorporation of gender equality into the 10 year plan of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC);
Welcomed the willingness of the Government of Turkey and TESEV to consolidate this process of consultation on empowering women in public life through facilitating the deepening of dialogue within the Region.
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