Women's Rights and Gender Equality amidst the 'Arab Springs' Challenges and Lessons Learnt across Regions

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 20:00 to Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 20:00
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding
Southern Asia

Current citizen upraising and political changes taking place in Arab countries - known as the ‘Arab springs'-represent a historical opportunity for advancing gender equality and women's rights. Women of the region have proven to be key actors and crucial agents of change on processes of transition initiated this year. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 to Yemen's outspoken journalist and human rights activist Tawakul Karman is a prove of an international recognition of the importance of woman's fight for rights, equality and justice in the region.

Women have participated to various degrees in these 'revolutions' and social change movements and have played leading roles in breaking gender stereotypes and reclaiming the public sphere. However, it is not clear that future models of government and society will place gender equality and the rights of women as a cornerstone. In Egypt for example, we have already seen the exclusion of women in the constitutional reform process, in other places retaliation against women has been brutal and across the board ranging from rapes to virginity tests to imprisonment and torture, such as in Bahrain.

In this context, the WIDE Network[1], in close partnership with the Collective for Research and Training for Development – Action from Lebanon (CRTD-A), is organising an: International Conference: “Women's Rights and Gender Equality amidst the ‘Arab Springs'” 27-28 Oct, 2011,
Congress Centre Amazone, in Bruxelles, Rue du Méridien 10. (Please see attached programme for details)

Various women leaders from the “Arabs Springs” who are actively involved in the transitions process of different countries of the region will come to Brussels to analyze, exchange points of view and strategies with women rights activist living in Europe and discuss risks, possible joint efforts and ways forward to secure a transition that will address women's rights agenda(s) and put social concerns and women's proposals at the core of current important political processes. Among them:

Esraa Abdel Fattah (Egypt) is a leading Egyptian democracy and human rights activist. In April 2008 she was imprisoned for her role in organizing what became known as the April 6th Facebook Protests, a mobilization of thousands of young people demanding political change that gave its name to a branch of the youth movement behind the mass protests that brought down President Mubarak on February 11, 2011;

Asma Khader (Jordan), a lawyer and human rights activist, is General Coordinator of Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI/J) and Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women. She is former Minister of Culture and Government Spokesperson for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and former President of the Jordanian Women's Union. Elected to the Permanent Arab Court as Counsel on violence against women in 1996, she has served as a judge and chairperson of many judicial bodies specializing in fields related to human rights.

Sabah Alhalak (Syria) member of the Syrian Women League since 1985; a well known women's activist who has participated in several campaigns covering issues such as women's equal rights in divorce; she was Women Coordinator for the Syrian Commission for Family Affaires from 2004 to 2006.

Rabea Naciri (Morocco) is a founding member of Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc, one of the largest Moroccan NGOs focused on the rights of women.

Mahnaz Afkhami (Iran) is the founder and President of Women's Learning Partnership, Executive Director of the Foundation for Iranian Studies, and former Minister for Women's Affairs in Iran.

Nadia Ait Zai (Algeria) is a jurist and a Professor at the Law Faculty in Algiers. She is the founder of CIDDEF, Centre de Documentation sur le Droit des Enfants et Des Femmes and Member of the Collectif Maghreb Egalite.

We hope for this dialogue to be enriched with perspectives coming from WIDE Network's members from the ex-communist region; having gone through a very difficult transition process that brought dramatic consequences in terms of rights and social and gender justice. Other actors, as EU Commission and Parliament, UN Women, representatives of governments, international organisations will be also participants in this Conference.

If you are interested to interview any of the participants or to attend the Conference as Press representative,

please get in touch with me: luisa@wide-network.org

Tel: 025459075. (Monday to Thursday from 09.00 – 17.00)

1. WIDE is a European network of women's organisations, development NGO's, gender specialists, women's rights advocates and activists. WIDE works weaving global knowledges, capacities and experiences of more than 400 organisations within Europe and with partners in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Oceania. WIDE has formal membership in 22 EU countries, in Norway and Switzerland as well as in most CEE and CIS countries. www.wide-network.org

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Womens Rights and Gender Equality amidst the 'Arab Springs' Challenges and Lessons Learnt across Regions