New York - Many Arab countries have enacted legislative reforms promoting gender equality and protecting women from violence - yet further advances are needed to guarantee equality before the law and achievement of the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to delegates to the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women from the Arab States region, at a side event held at UNDP Headquarters.

Building on the Gender Justice & the Law Initiative and the evidence its reports have presented, the event brought together delegates including representatives of Permanent Missions, national women’s machineries, and civil society from across the Arab States region, as well as UN partners. The event was co-chaired by the Permanent Mission of Jordan and UNDP, and was organized by UNDP in collaboration with UN Women, UNFPA, and ESCWA.

Opening remarks were delivered by Sima Bahous, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations, who stressed the importance of equality before the law to help move forward on the issue of justice for women in the Arab region; and Ulrika Modéer, Assistant Secretary General & UNDP Director, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, who emphasized the relevance of the strong partnerships at the center of the Gender Justice and the Law Initiative, and how alliances between UNDP and sister agencies, underpinned by engagement with national counterparts, will continue to support ongoing efforts across the region to build shared visions and joint efforts in support of women’s empowerment.

Panelists included three leaders of National Women’s Machineries: Dr. Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women in Egypt; Naziha Al-Obaidi, Minister of Women, Family, Childhood and the Elderly in Tunisia; and Dr. Salma Nima, Secretary General of the Jordanian National Committee for Women's Affairs. The three shared insights and concrete examples of initiatives which have driven progress in their respective countries, including the Taa Marbuta campaign in Egypt, a comprehensive domestic violence law promulgated recently in Tunisia, and recent measures in Jordan to close legal loopholes exploited by men found guilty of crimes of sexual violence.

Dr. Brigitte Chelabian, member of the Coalition for the International Court, and Founder of Justice Without Frontiers; and Dr. Lina Abirafeh, Executive Director, The Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, shared civil society and thinktank perspectives highlighting regional trends and major challenges in relation to gender and the law, in areas including the prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence and the elimination of child-marriage – issues cited as among the priorities requiring sustained advocacy and policy change.

The event was moderated by Sarah Poole, RBAS Deputy Regional Director, who in her concluding intervention emphasized the role of UNDP and its sister agencies in ensuring the dialogue in the region will continue with thought leadership, and sustaining the exchanges on specific topics and at country level; closing remarks were delivered by Moez Doraid, Director, Division of Management and Administration, UNWomen, who echoed panelists in highlighting the deep roots of movements for gender justice in the Arab States region, while reaffirming the commitment of UN Agencies to supporting the advance of gender justice across the Arab States region.


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