UNDP launches its first-ever regional project to support Arab Women’s Participation in the Public Sphere, “Mosharaka”
Amman – At the close of a 2-day consultation that brought together key women’s-rights stakeholders and activists from around the Arab region, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched today its new regional project, “Mosharaka” –Arabic for participation. The project galvanizes efforts of government institutions, civil society–especially women-based organizations, human rights councils, the private sector, the League of Arab States and several UN agencies, to foster inclusive participation of Arab women in public life, including the political, economic and social spheres.
Major transformations that a number of countries in the region have undergone over the past 3 years and active recovery and rebuilding efforts in Arab countries emerging from conflict present an opportunity and a duty to ensure that the voices of women are heard and their perspectives considered in public affairs. In this context, the full engagement of women in transitional and post-conflict processes is not only a right, but as well, a guarantee for the success of such processes.
"The participation of women is key to development—there can be no peace, no democracy, no prosperity, and no progress without the full and equal participation of women,” stressed Sima Bahous, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS). “For us, the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in the Arab region is a goal in its own right, as well as an important basis for all development efforts in the region.”
The consultation brought together 160 women and men, including representatives of government, national women councils, human rights councils, jurists, the private sector, and women-rights and civil society activists, from 14 Arab countries, alongside international gender experts and practitioners. Discussions over the two days covered themes including legal and policy reforms required to accelerate women’s rights; women’s participation in political processes and decision making; gender equality institutions and machineries; women, peace and security; women’s economic empowerment (policies, social constraints, employment and entrepreneurship); and women’s rights in Islam.
“Achieving the necessary and ambitious goals of this project requires a multi-dimensional approach that targets various sectors and multiple regional and national stakeholders in a carefully coordinated manner,” said Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States. “The League of Arab States welcomes the opportunity to join efforts with UNDP and all partners in this important endeavor, because, alone, no single stakeholder can bring about the required change.”
The new regional project will collaborate with the League of Arab States on the implementation of the gender programmes that the League’s secretariat had adopted, including focusing on women and conflict, establishing a media platform to represent women’s voices, and launching a civil society decade to support the post-2015 global development agenda. The project will also support the implementation of the recently agreed “Cairo Declaration for Arab Women: Opportunities and Challenges in the Post 2015 Development Agenda for Women.”
With the overall goal of encouraging faster progress in reducing gender inequality and promoting women’s empowerment, the project will incorporate relevant inputs from the consultation in its pursuit of 4 principal outputs:
- accelerating measures of gender equality and women’s political, economic and social participation;
- reinforcing human security and equal access to justice through establishing frameworks and networks for Women, Peace and Security;
- strengthening women’s participation in national institutions, professional associations, the media, civil society and the private sector; and
- ensuring that women benefit from efforts of early recovery and rapid return to sustainable development after conflicts.
The Arab private sector giant, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAGO), announced its support to “Mosharaka,” in enhancing economic opportunities for women. Their support will focus on training women to increase their use of information and communications technologies to enhance employability and entrepreneurial opportunity.
Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Chairman of TAGO emphasized that women’s economic participation in the Arab region is among the lowest in the world and that the private sector had an important role to play in reversing this sad reality through enhancing economic opportunities for women. He said “Engaging women in knowledge production can provide a sure route to wealth creation by herself, for herself. Digital innovation in knowledge production requires only personal determination and needs only mental capacities and communication access, both equally available for men and women. As such women can empower themselves and not wait to be empowered.”
The regional project “Mosharaka,” will be implemented over a period of 4 years, 2014-2017, and will constitute an Arab regional contribution to the implementation of UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy, 2014-2017, entitled “The Future we want: Rights and Empowerment.”
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