Arab women call for better role in society

November 14th, 2008 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Nov 14 (IANS) Launching a media strategy to project a fair image of Arab women and introducing clear-cut indicators and a guide for security of women in the Arab world were among several initiatives launched at a conference in Abu Dhabi.The three-day second conference of Arab Women’s Organisation (AMO), which concluded Thursday, analysed and assessed diverse dimensions of human security and its relationship with the woman.

The conference, held under the patronage of AWO president Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, was attended by the first ladies of Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Sudan, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Mauritania and official delegates from Algeria, Oman, and Yemen.

First ladies of non-member states of Comoros, Somalia, Kuwait and Djibouti, in addition to representatives of the Arab League and other regional and international government and non-government organisations, were also present at the conference.

Sheikha Fatima, who is also the chairwoman of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) General Women Union and chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, launched an Arab Media Strategy which seeks to boost efficiency of the media establishment to present a fair image of Arab women that will contribute to raising social awareness about women’s position, roles and contributions in building the future of their communities.

The strategy, which will be implemented between 2010 and 2015, will cover seven key areas - policies, economy, society, culture, education, sports, health and environment.

It is aimed at making women’s problems and struggles an essential part of public opinion and create advanced research studies and database about their involvement in the media and the portrayal of Arab women in the media.

“I am confident that what we have achieved through this conference will strengthen cooperation among us, and will constitute a fundamental and important addition to achievements of Arab women,” Sheikha Fatima said at the conclusion of the conference.

UAE’s Minister of State Maitha Al Shamsi said that nothing would be accomplished for Arab women without a clear action plan.

“We should not say that Arab women are oppressed, but we need a discourse that reflects the social reality of the new generation of Arab women, who are educated and have endless opportunities,” she told the local media.

“Our work here is not mere rhetoric or research studies, we need action. Although research studies are important, they are only useful to Arab women when translated into meaningful actions,” she said.

Egyptian First Lady Suzan Mubarak said that Arab women have come a long way in the past three decades and tremendous progress had been made in the last five years.

“Today, Arab women are in a really strong position because they have avenues to realize their full potential and practise their rights,” she said.

Participants at the conference also recognised the daunting challenges women face under occupation, siege and armed conflicts in Palestine and Iraq where violence has become a common order of daily life.

The participants denounced the abuse of human security as a pretext for intervention into internal affairs of other states.

Addressing the concluding session, the AWO executive chairperson of Samiya Mohammed Ahmed said that the genuine concern of Sheikha Fatima for the security of women that formed the theme of the conference is an evidence of her comprehensive consciousness about the issues of Arab women.

Samiya said that the conference created a valuable opportunity for an elite group of Arab academicians to interact in a wide area of specializations, and this could shed light on a number of crucial issues concerning the Arab woman.

“This has helped to evolve an agenda for future work for the progress of woman and to support her empowerment in a host of fields,” she stated.

Founded in 1992 by a group of Arab women’s organisations, the AWO works to enhance collaboration among various women’s organisations in the region and promote shared objectives.

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