Conferences and Meetings

Conferences and Meetings

The First Conference of the Arab Woman Summit Present Challenges and Future Horizons The Arab League (18-20) November 2000

By: Hamsa Abd El-Hamid
The events of the first conference of the Arab Woman Summit, with the participation of the Arab League, the National Council for Women, El-Hariri Institution, were inaugurated by the speech given by Mr.Susan Mubarak the Head of the Conference, who mentioned the support of the Palestinian Woman's situation in her struggle for liberating the occupied territory. She called the attention to the necessity of reaching concepts through the summit that would help the woman face the challenges encountering her in her participation in development, whether local in each Arab State, national on the Arab scale or international like globalisation.

The world has been given to Dr. Essmat Abd El-Meguid, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, in which he stated that holding this summit I considered as a pioneer initiative to support the Arab Woman in her struggle and her rightful aspirations to set her rights and commitments order to achieve the social stability that we all seek.

Then the vice-president Mr. Baheyya El-Hariri gave her speech affirming the unity of the Arab nation culturally and historically an our engagement in one destiny, and that the Palestinian cause is our first cause. She also confirmed that this summit crowns all the precedent events in the Arab Woman's journey towards progress.

The word has been given afterwards to the first ladies, then followed the speeches given by the heads of delegates consecutively.

On the second day of conference, six axes concerning women have been discussed, which are the cultural, informative, legal, political, social and economic axes. Here. I will present some of them:

1. Dr.Gaber Assfour's speech, the Head of the Supreme Council of Culture, tackled the Cultural axis. He mentioned some of the points that influence our view of the woman, which are:
* The cultural heritage represented by the Folkoric proverbs mocking women and their performance.
* The social heritage that discriminate between men and women
* The educational activities that lay the foundation of the discrimination between sexes in their social roles.
* The global challenge such as the information revolution and globalsiaiton leading to cultural gaps between countries.

He emphasized in his speech that the cultural problem cannot be separated from the economic, political, educational, and health problems. Therefore, one strategy should be set to eliminate illiteracy, help women use the resources and train them on the arts of administration until they reach the stage of participation in decision-making.

2. Dr.Awatef Abd El-Rahman's speech, the Communication Professor in Cairo University, was entitled "the Arab Women and the Media in face of the Challenges to this Age".
Dr.Awatef has mentioned some facts concerning the Arab woman's issues in the media. She said that:
1. The Arab media take sides in favour of the traditional figures of the woman confining her in the role if the generous mother, the submissive wife and the obedient daughter.

1. The media emphasizes a set of hereditary values that confirm the legitimacy of the social and cultural discrimination between the two sexes.
2. The Arab media neglect the rural woman's role
3. The media sheds the light to the stars of the society such as the female artists and politicians neglecting the problems of thousands of women.
4. The media do not present a balanced vision of the women's, children's and men's roles and rights in the Arab families, but they just emphasize the traditional responsibilities of women.
5. The media accentuate the consumer roles of women in commercials and dramatic works.
Thus, the women's issues come at the end of the media list following the political, economic, social and all other issues.

Therefore, Dr.Awatef called for some mechanisms for correcting the picture. She mentioned the following:
1. Changing the prevalent policies based on the discrimination between men and women.
1. Modifying the laws in the field of family and employment.
2. Setting educational curriculums contributing to the awareness of both sexes.
3. Setting a national strategy for media about women and the Arab family aiming at eliminating the obstacles hindering the benefit from the technological evolution in communications and information.
4. Preparing training programs for the media activists to increase the levels of informative awareness in the field of women and media.

3- Mrs.Hamida El-Aria's speech, the Public prosecutor in the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, entitled "women's rights under the protection of international treaties and positive laws."
Her speech was restricted to women's position under the Tunisian Laws. She mentioned the following:
1. Tunisia has signed the international treaties eliminating the descrimination against women.
1. Tunisia has guaranteed women's right to candidature and voting.
2. Marriage contracts and their conciliation have been determined, so the girl cannot get married before the age of 17, and she cannot be obliged to marry either.
3. Intensifying punishment of the husband who lays hands upon his wife, and vice versa.
4. Transferring curatorship to the mother to give her nationality to her children in case of her marriage to a foreigner.
5. Enabling the Tunisian mother to give her nationality to her children in case of her marriage to a foreigner
6. Women's rights to social, health and professional insurances.
7. Protecting women from working in tiring jobs such as working in quarries.
4-Dr.Laila Takl's speech which tackled the political perspective. She pointed out the women's weak political participation as a result of wrong historic heritage that limits the political participation of women such as saying that politics is men's world, and that women plung themselves into it. She also affirmed that the woman's low self-confidence, or her low confidence in other women leads to the weak participation of women in politics.
Therefor, she insisted on the necessity of presenting the results of studies and research which confirm women's participation and positions from the political issues that have encountered and are encountering the Arab nation.
Dr.Essmat Abd El-Miguid recited the final declaration on the third day of the conference. The following are some of the most important articles:
1. Appealing to the International Community to take immediate measures to end international force to Palestinian occupied territories.
1. Demanding the prosecution of the Israeli war generals by an international criminal court.
2. The conference supports both the Iraqi and the Kuwaiti women in their ordeal.
3. Insuring the principle of opportunity equivalence between men and women in the fields of education, health, employment, etc.
4. Furthering the services targeting the rural woman and the poor quarters.
5. Trying to eliminate the violence against women.
6. Holding this conference every two years
7. Considering the year 2001 as the women's year according to Mrs.Susan Mubarak's suggestion, and holding an exceptional conference on this occasion next year in the Arab League.
8. After Dr.Essmat Abd El-Miguid's speech, a film entitled "a meeting with a martyr" was displayed. The conference ended with Mrs.Susan Mubarak's speech in which she thanked all the delegates and participants.