MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA: UN Chief Urges Arab Women to Claim their Rights Amid Revolutions

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Northern Africa
Western Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday on Arab women to take advantage of the wind of change blowing in the Middle East and North Africa region to claim their rights.

Moon had said on Tuesday during a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia that one of the most significant aspects of revolutions in the Middle East and Africa is that women are participating, and for respecting women's fundamental rights in the movements.

He highlighted the importance of empowering women and the implications of regime changes in places such as Tunisia, Egypt and Ivory Coast.

"Women are underrepresented worldwide as heads of state, in parliaments and in the highest levels of business," Ban said.

The U.N. chief also spoke of his visits to North Africa, where he said the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt "represent one of the greatest opportunities to advance democracy and human rights in a generation."

But he said that "the changes we are seeing must respect the fundamental rights and aspirations of women."

"Women told me that they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men — standing up for change, for rights and for opportunity," Ban said. "They expect to take their share in making the revolution succeed — having their fair share of power, making decisions and making policy."

Ban said he is trying to lead by example, having increased the number of women in senior U.N. leadership posts by more than 40 per cent.