eNews Issue 31

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Filed under:
December 1, 2011

 

 

 

Featured Photo

TPC 2011
 

 

"If women do not get their rights, this is not a democracy. No democracy without women’s rights." 

 

           - Amal Abdel Hadi
Leading Egyptian Women's Rights Activist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arab Spring and After

Dear Friends,

 


After days of violent demonstrations aimed at reclaiming the revolution, Egyptians went to the polls last week to vote for a new parliament. Preliminary reports favor the Muslim Brotherhood and related groups. The previous week, conservative Islamic groups won a resounding victory in Morocco's elections, and in October, Ennahda, Tunisia's Islamist party won a clear victory. In all three countries, groups referencing Islam take positions of moderation, pointing to Islam as a set of values, rather than a set of laws, and posit themselves as the opposite of the regimes they replace. They are opaque on specifics and use words that can be defined in multiple ways. Though sometimes, the intentions slip out, such as when Mr. Hamadi Jebeli, Secretary General of Tunisia's Ennahda says, "God willing, we are entering the sixth caliphate." Or when the head of the transitional council of Libya calls for liberalization of polygamy laws. The political process is now dominated by the organized, well-networked Islamists. 

However, WLP partners in our recent meeting were adamant about their optimism for the future. They were proud of our decade of democratic struggle, the most important aspect of which is our shared vision of the society we wish for ourselves and our children. This vision of a safe space for women, free of violence and coercion, tolerant of diversity, and dedicated to full human rights for all, must be shared with ever increasing constituencies. As leading Egyptian women's rights activist, Amal Abdel Hadi, tells us, "Democracy is like Pandora's Box... but that is part of the process." We learn from our Moroccan partners that the constitution as the foundational document on which all other laws are based, is the essential element in our struggle for the values and the rights we seek. 
The Moroccans have won the right to equality in the constitution. They have also embedded in that document the primacy of international law, including CEDAW, over national laws — a great triumph for women and other rights activists. Though much of the world has been focused on the recent developments shaking the Middle East, we know that movements for social justice and human dignity are advancing across the globe.

Shockwaves from the Arab Spring have been far-reaching, energizing diverse groups to demand social justice and human dignity
. As we move toward the anniversary of the Arab Spring, we need to focus on our aspirations, strengthen our networks, and build on our regional and international solidarity. So many of our colleagues, such as those in Brazil, have already gone through the process of transition. Those in Indonesia have followed a more gradualist path. The Iranians were the first in the region to call for change, but their progress was stymied. Our Central and South Asian partners have a varied and interesting set of experiences to offer. The Afghans are slowly recovering from decades of war and have just begun their transition. Others are sure to go through the process in the future. We need to keep our eye on the future of our societies and make sure that the road we choose will be the one that can take us to the future we seek. Our optimism stems from our belief that history is on our side.

Mahnaz Afkhami
President and CEO

 

 

 



"If women do not get their rights, this is not a democracy":


 


In the weeks leading up to last Monday's historic election in Egypt, WLP interviewed leading Egyptian women's rights activist Amal Abdel Hadi on the upcoming elections and the future of women's rights in country.


WLP: Since the Revolution, there are serious concerns regarding the future of women's rights in Egypt. Many feel that while women were out on the streets and in Tahrir Square, playing a key role in the protests that led to the ouster of Mubarak, they have since been excluded from the political process. 

 

 


Amal Abdel Hadi (Hadi): Women were not just participating in the revolution, but in all the preparations and work that was done before the revolution: the unions fights, the protests…part of activism with social media, Facebook etc., part of the public strike on the first of April, and women were in Tahrir, as everyone knows. But then, women were really excluded – and I say excluded – it's not just somebody didn't notice. This is an exclusion… The whole unsettled situation is really impacting women's participation. Now, because of the previous regime – everyone is against the previous regime – there is an orchestrated campaign against all legal gains for women under the slogan that these changes were imposed on the people by the Mubarak regime….

Democracy is like Pandora's Box…But that is part of the process…It's not an easy thing, democracy –  "The regime is toppled and you get the democracy you want" – no. We will fight, and we will fight very strongly for it, just as we were fighting for the freedom of association and from oppression by the Mubarak regime. Read more and listen to the full interview.

 


Breakthroughs & Opportunities:
A conversation with our partner in Morocco &

National Human Rights Council Member Rabéa Naciri

 

 

By Lina Abou-Habib, Executive Director of WLP Lebanon/CRTD-A

After three decades of feminist activism, constitutional reforms in Morocco set precedents of institutionalizing gender equality 


Amidst revolts, uncertain futures, the dismantling of theocratic regimes, the emergence of conservative forces and serious threats facing women in the MENA region, the recent changes in Morocco not only herald a positive transformatory process but also highlight the consistency and strength of the independent feminist movement in that country... 
                                     
"Morocco is now going through a real transition that presents serious potential for an inclusive democracy. According to Articles 14 and 15 of the new Constitution, all women and men citizens have the right to taking legislative initiatives and submit petitions. This means that the new Constitution recognizes women and men as active citizens and also recognizes the role of civil society. This is totally new and it is up to us now to make use of these positive changes." Read more

 



Making Political Activism Go Viral in Morocco

 

By Abdul Khan

I recently had the opportunity to participate in and facilitate a Regional Institute for Training of Women Trainers in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Advocacy in Rabat, Morocco and was amazed with the youth's passion and creative use of technology. This training was designed to build the capacity of ADFM to use social media and other technologies to strengthen and support their campaigns, and to incorporate using technology for political participation in their trainings at the grassroots level. The Institute focused on advocacy— and its outcomes were extraordinary! The twenty youth participants were clearly motivated to learn and use a variety of social media tools, such as blogs, to effectively make their campaigns more visible online, in order to gain support and further raise awareness. During this training there were four topics on which advocacy campaigns were created. The creativity of each campaign's team was on display in their self-designed videos, blogs, websites, and slogans. The campaigns included Combatting Violence Against Women, Family and Children's Rights, Women and Political Participation, and Stopping Sex Trafficking. Each group used social media to connect with other organizations and activists to share news, ideas, strategies, and to start new dialogues. Read More

 

 

 

 



Moving the Reform Process Forward for Women in Jordan and Beyond


WLP International spoke with Asma Khader, Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women and General Coordinator of Sisterhood is Global Institute/Jordan, about the outcomes of a conference in Amman convened by the SALMA network from October 27-29, 2011, where she shared Jordan's recent experience with constitutional reform. Over 60 NGO leaders and women activists gathered from 14 Arab countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, among others, to discuss women's involvement in democratic transition as well as Jordan's recent constitutional amendments.

WLP: What were the major themes, challenges and ways forward discussed by the activists present?

Khader: The need for a civil state and the importance of the constitutional reform processes taking place in the Arab region to strengthening women's rights were key points of agreement. Other major themes were the need for more political organizing and networking, especially with grassroots women and youth, challenges posed by Islamist groups, such as the protection of minority rights, and the importance of raising awareness of international instruments such as UNSCR 1325 in the region. Read More



In Other News:

This fall WLP Kyrgyzstan/Human Rights Center "Citizens Against Corruption" (CAC) hosted the annual One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Bishkek. The festival, which is the largest human rights film festival in the world, featured documentary films from a broad range of countries, including Afghanistan, Israel, Iran, South Africa, India, Great Britain, Ethiopia, Canada, and Kyrgyzstan. Betty Yeoh of WLP Malaysia/All Women's Action Society wrote about her experiences facilitating the initial Global Training of Trainers session on vision and shared meaning at WLP's annual Transnational Partners Convening in September. WLP named Ojedele Rebecca Yetunde as the International Youth Day Contest winner, for her original song entitled, "Kilowade." WLP Turkey/Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (FSWW) worked with Lina Abou-Habib of WLP Lebanon/Collective for Research and Training on Development as part of WLP's peer-to-peer capacity building exchange program, which ultimately resulted in 50 of FSWW's economic cooperative members implementing individual strategic plans that take into account reflection, sustainability, and organization-wide planning. See Lina's blog on the exchange here.



Make WLP Part of Your Year-End Giving


During the past year we have witnessed extraordinary and unprecedented changes throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In all these transformations, women have been active participants, spokespersons, and leaders in the movements for democracy and human rights. Across the globe, women are taking ever stronger roles in their societies. WLP's partners, programs, and learning tools which you have helped support, have played an important role in the successes that have been achieved, through engaging and empowering women and youth as agents of change in their families, communities and beyond.

As we look ahead to the coming year and all of its possibilities and challenges, we ask for your continued support in reaching out to even more women and men, girls and boys, whose spirit and engagement is so important to the fulfillment of our vision for a just and peaceful world where women's human rights are fully realized. Click here to Donate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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