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- How does it help tackle violence against women?
- Contact information
The Arab Women Organization was created during the first Arab Women’s Summit in 2001, and in 2003 was formally incorporated into the LAS framework as a specialised organisation with ‘moral personality, and with financial and administrative independence’. There are three main bodies in AWO:
- Supreme Council: First Ladies (or their representatives) of member states
- Executive Council: representatives from member states specialising in women’s issues
- General Directorate: the Director General and supporting officials – acts as the administrative body of the AWO
According to the AWO’s publications, they have three broad objectives: empowering Arab women and enhancing their capabilities in all fields; raising awareness on the pivotal importance of Arab women being equal partners in the development process – including women’s rights education at the community level improve women’s decision-making capacity in all spheres (e.g. family); and devoting efforts of coordination and cooperation among Arab countries for achieving the goals of empowerment and raising awareness.
The AWO holds a General Conference every two years and is led by the First Ladies of member states, or their appointed representatives. These Conferences primarily focuses on the following areas:
- Health and environment
- Media: addressing negative representations of women in the media
- Social: inclusion of women in development
- Economic: poverty and women’s work
- Political participation
The Arab Women Organization is responsible for:
- Achieving solidarity among Arab women
- Coordinating a common Arab stand regarding general Arab and international issues, and in addressing women’s issues in regional and international fora
- Raising awareness of economic, social, cultural, legal and media issues impacting Arab women
- Promoting joint cooperation for advancing the status of Arab women
- Mainstreaming women’s issues among the priorities, plans and policies of development
- Building and developing women’s capacities and capabilities, both as an individual and as a citizen, for their effective participation in the society’s institutions, in all fields of employment, business and decision-making
- Advancing the necessary educational and health services provided to women
With regard to the LAS, the Arab Women Organization is responsible for:
- Presenting an annual plan to the Social and Economic Council of the LAS and consulting on issues related to its mandate
- Committing to the rules of coordination between the different Arab organisations and cooperating on work with the League Council, the Social and Economic Council and the Council of Social Affairs Ministers in the Arab Countries
- Cooperating with governmental and non-governmental regional and international organisations working on women’s issues, provided the organisations have the same goals as the LAS and AWO
How does it help tackle violence against women?
The AWO works with human rights institutions at the international, regional and national level to tackle violence against women. It collaborates with civil society and has invited CSOs to attend the General Conference.
As part of its strategies for the advancement of women, the AWO has identified ending VAW as a core component. Two strategies have been developed:
- Arab Strategy for Combatting Violence Against Women (2011-2020) (also available in English)
- The Regional Strategy for the Protection of Arab Women: Peace and Security (also available in English)
The purpose of the Arab Strategy for Combating Violence against Women (2011-2020) was to create a regional framework to assist member states in developing their own strategies to tackle violence against women. Drawing on the definition put forth by the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Strategy recognises that:
…any act that occurs on women and results in physical, sexual or psychological abuse, or any form of suffering, such as threats of such acts, duress or coercion or deprivation of all rights, whether occurring within family relations, social or professional frameworks.
There are seven pillars of the Strategy, envisioned as practical guidelines for CSOs and member states:
- Mobilising positive social change through awareness-raising campaigns and activities
- Security and Protection
- Enhancing women’s participation
- Policy and access to justice
- Studies, research and data collection
- Building partnerships and coordination
- Monitoring state performance and evaluation
The Regional Strategy for the Protection of Arab Women: Peace and Security (available in English), was created in 2012 with UN Women. The aim was to address the forms of gender-based violence that impact women during times of armed conflict. The Strategy is organised in three phases:
- Pre-armed conflict (peace and security)
- Emergence or outbreak of armed conflict
- Post-armed conflict (reconstruction and rehabilitation)
In December 2015, the AWO, in partnership with the UNDP Regional Bureau of Arab States, UN Women and LAS, met to discuss the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with respect to Goal 5: gender equality and women’s empowerment. The result was the “Women’s 2030 Platform of Action in the Arab Region“. Six core principles were outlined in the Platform for Action, including one specifically directed at tackling violence against women:
6. Eliminating violence against women is everyone’s business: Eliminating violence against women and girls can only be achieved through the engagement of men and boys and the enactment of gender responsive legal and legislative reforms.
The AWO addresses women’s issues from multiple fields and attempts to tackle VAW within member states. They continually state their willingness to work with civil society to collect data and establish new approaches to securing women’s rights, and can be an important connection for CSOs wishing to raise concerns about VAW in their region.
Want more? Watch the AWO’s video on what the Sustainable Development Goals mean for Arab countries.
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