Five Arab first ladies and delegations from 18 different Arab countries assembled Sunday in Jordan, where Queen Rania opened the second Arab Women's Summit aimed at empowering their sisters throughout the region.
Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, for her part, who hosted the first Arab Women's Summit two years ago, handed over the presidency to Queen Rania.
UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa were amongst 1,500 participants taking part in the two-day forum in the Jordanian capital of Amman, along with the first ladies of Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan and Morocco.
"We women of the Arab world meet in Jordan ... to reach out to the world illustrating who we are and what we can do," the beautiful Queen Rania said in a statement ahead of Sunday's opening session.
Emphasizing that the time has come for women to move out of the passenger seat and take an active role in improving their lot, the world's youngest queen said Arab women have a duty to "participate in the development of our nations."
Queen Rania said that more than half of Arab women still remain illiterate, and that "some laws continue to discriminate against us", adding that these are the challenges Arab women must rise up against.
"Today nothing should stand in our way ... it is up to us to take the reins, " the queen said in the statement published by Jordan Times.
Meanwhile, participants are expected to adopt a 12-point "Amman Declaration" that consists of a political statement on the changes that emerged across the world in the aftermath of 9/11.
It urges all Arab active forces to work hand in hand to develop capacities in the economic, educational and political spheres in order to empower women and turn them into "essential partners" in decision-making.
Moreover, the summit is also due to announce the creation of an Arab Women's Organization (AWO) which will be placed under the aegis of the 22-member Arab League, the head of the pan-Arab organization said.
Mussa, who arrived in Jordan Saturday, said the AWO would seek to pool Arab efforts in order to establish a common strategy to empower women and advance their participation in the development process.
The summit was preceded by a seminar of experts, which scrutinized a gloomy report on the position of women in the Arab world published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) back in July. (Albawaba.com)
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