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Can Women’s rights and gender equality shape the new constitutions in the Mena Region?

Last updated: 28.03.2014 // Norway co-sponsored the side event of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom with the Netherlands 25 March at Palais des Nations.

 The UN Security Council resolution 1325 and new General Recommendation 30 to CEDAW strongly reaffirms the role of women’s real and meaningful participation and women’s rights in shaping the new constitutions.

At the side-event there was a discussion with women leaders and activists. Radhia Ben Haj Zekri, Co-founder and former President of AFTURD from Tunisia, Amal Basha, Chairperson for Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, from Yemen, and Zahra Langhiz, Co-founder of the Libyan Women Platform for Peace, from Libya. Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of WILPF International was the moderator.

The women a Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of WILPF International and Zahra Langhiz, Co-founder of the Libyan Women Platform for Peacell shared experiences, challenges and realities in terms of women rights and gender equality in their countries. They had different perspectives on how to address the issue in their own country, but they all agreed on that women, and men, shouldn’t be silenced in the fight for equal rights. “If you are persistent and visible you will at some point be listened to” Says  Langhiz.

“Women are addressed as sisters in the constitution in my country. We are not sisters, we are citizens. We want to be addressed as equal citizens in Yemen. As of today it’s a gender blind constitution that doesn’t acknowledge the other 50% of the population” Says Basha.

Langhiz stressed the issue of militarization and that there should be more focus on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDA). “We need to deal with shifting the society from a security system that is militarized moved to a system focused on human rights.”

The women emphasized that the human rights perspective needs to be integrated from the beginning, and that generations need to be taught that human rights are a universal right.  “The fight for women’s rights is not a western agenda. It’s a universal and a human agenda" Says  Amal Basha.

The women also addressed the importance of media and other social platforms. “Journalists, media and bloggers all have a responsibility. They need to fight for transparency and demand politicians to be accountable” Says  Zekri.

First time we see that a situation with a promising future, but still in the beginning. We still have lots of predigests coming from the past” Says Zekri.

Read more about DDA here.

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