While we are at the beginning of the decade of achieving the sustainable development goals, especially the fifth goal related to gender equality, we should accelerate the steps of achieving justice for women in all aspects and face all the many challenges and obstacles facing them. Although 184 of 194 countries have guaranteed equality between men and women in their constitutions – according to the United Nations – discrimination still exists in many aspects, including laws and policies, social norms and practices, and gender-based stereotypes. It is worth noting that women earn 23% less than men globally, and there are 750 million illiterate adults, two thirds of them women. Moreover, one in 3 women suffer from sexual and physical violence, and one in 3 women between the ages of 15-19 years in 30 countries faced FGM. Women occupy only 25% of parliamentary seats, and the percentage of women ministers is 21%.
Although the phenomenon is global, Arab women suffer more than their peers in the world. Today, Arab women continue to suffer from the effects of displacement and asylum as a result of conflicts, and the effects of violence and fear due to insecurity and instability in the region. Women continue to struggle to earn living for themselves and their families. Therefore, how can they find a way to progress within this chaos? how they can find the time to teach their children and influence them? how they can make change in the world? and how can countries move forward and half of the society still suffers?
The theme of the celebration of the International Women’s Day of 2020 is: ‘I am generation of equality: realizing women’s rights.’ Here it must be noted that progress towards this issue is very slow. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, the world needs 257 years to bridge the gap in ‘economic participation and opportunities’ taking into consideration the slow growth of this indicator between 2006-20. Although the MENA region managed to bridge the gap by 60.5%, the region needs 140 years to bridge the gap. the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence against Women has been fully aware of this issue, and has witnessed through its members how women suffer as a result of conflicts, occupation, stereotypes and societal perception of them. It raised the alarm and condemned all aspects of discrimination against women and girls through the articles of the Arab convention it drafted, and put in the hands of states the option of ratifying it. Either those states work towards the advancement of women through the ratification of the convention, or they choose to remain silent and take a negative stance denying the discrimination and violation of women and their rights.
On International Women’s Day, we cannot help but pay tribute to all struggling and zealous women who have started the steps, and who are on the path now. We can only make a promise and commitment to future generations that we will keep this path paved.
Happy Women’s Day!