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Report On the participation of GWAF members in the meeting of CSW  
Date of publication: 16/04/2018
On the participation of GWAF members in the meeting of CSW
The sixty second session of the Commission on the Status of Women - CSW62 - took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC - accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attended the session. Three members of The General Arab Women Federation (GAWF) which has a consultative status with ECOSOC participated in the meeting. The CSW 62 focuses on the theme, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.
The following gives a summary of their activities during the meeting.
  1. Participating as speakers on an Arab panel
      Dr Sami Nassar the lead researcher along with the Saudi Researcher, Dr Naimaa ElGhannam and GAWF’s Executive Director, Ms. Omnia Abbas lobbied with the permanent mission of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations to present the developed study entitled “Education for Women’s Economic Empowerment” and its unique index that was a result of GAWF’s collaboration with UN Women MENA regional office during 2017-2018. The objective of the project is to develop a women economic empowerment index for the Arab region linking education to women’s economic empowerment. The index is a tool to measure women economic empowerment. It measures women advancement and participation, their power and agency, all gauged through choice, influence and freedom in decision making, access to and control over resources. The index will combine these, and include indicators and allows comparison between countries and between groups in the same country. A purposeful sample of 3000 women, consisting of 500 working women from each of the above six countries will be selected to measure their individual economic empowerment. Considerations were given to regional representation and variations within countries (urban/rural), (rich/poor) …etc. as follows: Two countries from the Maghreb sub-region, namely, Tunisia and Algeria. The first is amongst the group of Arab countries that ranks the highest on the New Global Index which ranks countries according to the facilities they offer to contribute to women economic empowerment. The other country is amongst the group of Arab countries that ranks the lowest on the same index. Two countries from the Mashreksub-region, namely, Egypt and Sudan. The first belongs to the highest group and the other to the lowest on the above mentioned index. Two countries from the Gulf, namely, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The first from the highest group and the other from the lowest group on the index. The developed index will be applied on the selected sample of 3000 working women from the six countries (500 each).
     The panel was conducted on Tuesday, March 13th 2018 and was moderated bu Mrs. Haifa AlMogrian, Assistant Deputy Minister for Sustainable Development Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Planning. The panel title is “Women’s Economic Empowerment through Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030” and included presentations by:
  • Dr. Hanan Alahmadi, Member of the Shura Council, Economic & Energy Committee, Former General Director of the public Administration.
  • Dr. Mona Althagafi, Portfolio Director Enablement Programs, Takamol Holding.
  • Mrs. Maha Alnuhait, CO-Founder & CEO, ATHAR Company for Social Investment Consultancy, Small & Medium Enterprises Authority.
  • Mrs. Nouf AlRakan, CEO Alimtiaz Project, Management & Consulting-Based Member, Secretary General – Societal Development Committee.
The session Objectives were:
  • Discussion of the role of Saudi women in light of 2030 vision.
  • Discussion of Saudi women empowerment in the economic and social domains.
  • Challenges and opportunities of the labor market in Saudi Arabia.
  • Social and cultural factors that challenge or support the empowerment of women.
  • Presenting ways of empowering women in Saudi Arabia.
GAWF’s participants in the “Women’s Economic Empowerment in Vision 2030” was highly appreciated as it stressed the outputs of the panel. Our study findings highlighted and consolidated the outcomes of the session in regards to the following:
In the last ten years, the status of women in Saudi Arabia has advanced by a number of policies and initiatives aimed at empowering women. Such initiatives have been critical in creating a transformational societal change to the role of women. Change has been slow, but since the announcement of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, the social and political scene has witnessed a steady development in the status of women, especially concerning economic empowerment. Today, Saudi women are achieving an incredible amount of success and remarkable progress has been achieved regarding the status of women in education, employment, and the social and health domains which serves the drive of KSA toward a changing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in social, economic, and environmental areas. Therefore, GAWF expect increased empowerment of women in the future, embodied in playing a more active and vital role in various fields in both the public and private sectors. These results are evident in GAWF’s study and its developed index that places the Saudi women in the second place among the 6 studied Arab Countries. However, a more comprehensive multi-sectorial discussion is mandatory to highlight the opportunities and challenges in the field of women empowerment with the Saudi reform journey.   
As a side activity GAWF promoted the study and promised to share it with the Saudi counterpart once we finalize the study and after we get UN Women buy in on this step.
The second prominent panel that GAWF participated in was organized by the Arab Women Organization (AWO) in March 16th 2018 entitled “Rural Women in the Arab Region: Cases of Challenges and Resilience”.
The moderator of this panel was Minister Mervat Tallawy, Director of General Arab Women Organization (AWO). And the panelists were:
  • H.E.Ms. Atifete Jahjaga (Recorded video) – President of the Republic of Kosovo (2011 - 2016).
  • H.E.Ms. Neziha Labidi, Minister of Women, Family & Children in Tunisia.
  • H.E.Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister for Solidarity,. Women, the Family and Social Development in Morocco.
  • H.E.Mr. Maged Abdel Fattah, Head of the Arab League Delegation to the United Nations.
  • H.E.Ms. Sima Bahous, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the UN.
  • H.E.Mr. Mourad Wahba, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States.
  • H.E.Mr. Mohamed Naciri, UN Women Regional Director of Arab States.
 The objectives of the side event and talking points were:
A forum to present the Arab views on the importance of investing in rural women in the Arab region and the impact of such investment on development in their respective societies. Thus, it highlighted the major challenges faced by the rural women in the Arab region – including those that relate to conflict and disaster – and the importance of providing them with access to not just land, but also the tools that can support their agricultural endeavor, save time, and ensure maximum harvest in sustainable and innovative manner.
In this regard, the side event shed light on the best practices in the empowerment of women and girls in Asia and Africa especially with regards to access to Education, infrastructure and technology, food security and nutrition. Not to mention introducing them to new technologies that will help them adapt to the changes in climate that affects the production of agricultural products and provide them with access to local markets.
The ideas exchanged during the panel encouraged strengthening the political commitment toward the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.
In essence, AWO aimed to illustrate how investing in rural women will not only end world hunger, but it also will expedite the entire developmental agenda. That will be done by highlighting:
  • The interlinkages between empowering rural women and the majority of the SDGs.
  • The impact of conflict, climate change and disasters on rural women – in particular as it relates to migration, trafficking and the loss of income.
  • Rural women’s daily life, including challenges, and work life balance.
  • Exploring ways to invest in rural women by providing microfinance loans, introducing new technologies in farming, and training them to adapt to climate changes.
  • Economic perspective of empowering rural women and providing them with the same access as men to land, and ensuring land ownership.
  • Immediate measures needed to start creating partnerships for microfinancing rural women to expand their production.
  • Importance of providing same access to rural women as men to land, technology, financial services, education, and markets.
  • Success stories of countries that invested in rural women by using technology to facilitate adapting to climate change, and selling their production on a larger scale.
In addition to the above, the participants attended a number of sessions during their stay in New Nork. One of these sessions is entitled “Empowerment Principles” and here are the highlights of the sessions that will be included in the developed study “Basic Education and Women Economic Empowerment” that is funded by UN Women MENA Regional office.
Non-governmental organizations participating in the work of this session offered a number of recommendations related to achieving women's economic empowerment.
1. Recognition of the value of unpaid domestic work.
2. To promote education as a human right in all circumstances and to ensure that women and girls have access to quality education at all stages and to remove all barriers either its marriage or disability.
3. Initiate the implementation of vocational transformation initiatives for girls from agricultural and domestic work to build entrepreneurial skills in collaboration between academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.
4. Improve rural women's access to technology and provide guidance on various applications that improve conditions in rural areas, increase access to income and develop agricultural practices.
5. Setting up platforms for mobile learning and access to digital libraries. These sources can be translated and shared to promote and develop global citizenship.
5. Ensure the participation of all segments of society, including religious leaders, families, the media and youth, in eliminating all harmful traditional practices and social and cultural norms that lead to the marginalization and violence of women
6. Guarantee dignity, human rights and protection in all circumstances for migrant and displaced women and agricultural workers.
7. Integrate international human rights and development frameworks into regional and local legislation.
8. Develop infrastructure and transportation in rural areas to provide security, protection and well-being for women and girls, enabling them to access education, work and access to health services.
9. The need for the international community to play a role in addressing the problem of child marriage in rural areas.
10. Build capacity and capable frameworks of strengthening partnerships with local leaders and providing staff and specialists in the field of health services in rural areas.
11. Setting standards for health education programs and spreading them in society.
12. Develop general and universal legal frameworks to ensure the comprehensive protection of women's rights to property, inheritance, inheritance and disposal of income and land.
13. Remove all obstacles and barriers that limit women's ability to start small businesses and entrepreneurship.
14. Recognize the unbalanced impact of climate change on rural women and girls as they intersect with poverty, conflict, migration, education, poor health conditions and other persistent causes of inequality.
15. Supporting women's movements as a force of change and democratic participation, giving priority to marginalized women and ensuring their participation in governance and decision-making.
Sara Ghanem Programs Coordinatorin efu

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