The Arab World has the lowest rate of women's participation in the work force and the lowest rate of representation in parliaments, said the United Nation (UN)’s special advisor on gender issues Angela King.
Speaking at the first session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)’s Committee on Women, King reported that only 5.7 percent of parliament seats and in the hands of women compared to worldwide average of 15.2 percent.
“Arab women continue to be affected by the spread of poverty perpetuated by increased economic difficulties, political instability and deteriorating social conditions,” said King. “Armed conflict and occupation have impeded women's empowerment and advancement. Three Arab countries, including Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have not yet signed or ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)”, she said.
King added that the ESCWA Committee on Women was strategically poised to play a leading role in promoting women's rights in the Arab region and in establishing partnerships with UN entities and the non-governmental community at all levels.
ESCWA’s Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy underlined the positive aspects of the status of women in the region. She said that during the last decade Arab women increased their contribution to the economic sector, especially in the field of services and in forming new qualitative federations and associations for working women.
Tallawy also noted that Morocco gave more than 30 seats to women in the Parliament, Jordan gave them six seats, Algeria, 24 seats, and Tunisia, 21 seats, adding that Syria increased women's representation in the Parliament to 30 seats and Sudan to 35.
Tallawy, who underlined that Saudi Arabia, Syria and Bahrain ratified the CEDAW Convention, pointed out the remaining negative aspects of the status of Arab women. “Arab women are still suffering from the negative mentality, attitudes, and trends, which harm their status, role and image in society due to traditions, and from the great gap between legislations and their application in the field of women's rights”, she said.
Eight years after the historic UN conference on women was held in Beijing, the ESCWA Committee on Women attracted more than 250 female politicians, community leaders and experts in women’s rights to Beirut, Lebanon. The first session concluded on December 5, 2003. The session's recommendations will be submitted to the twenty-third ministerial session of ESCWA expected to be held in 2005. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )