The Coalition of Women Parliamentarians from Arab Countries launches first regional declaration to combat violence against women and girls
The Declaration is a commitment to protect women and girls from all forms of violence and to enhance efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination. The text defines violence against women and girls as:
“All acts of violence at the family and community level, which shall cause material or moral harm, including physical, sexual and psychological violence for women and girls, or the threat to perpetrate such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of rights and freedoms, and this violence includes, but is not limited to, family, domestic, community and digital violence.”
The Declaration calls for the strengthening of legislative measures and legal procedures to protect women and girls in the region and guarantee their access to justice. It involves commitments to adopt and strengthen policies for equality between women and men and to develop comprehensive national programmes and action plans to empower and protect women, including during times of crisis and armed conflict. In addition, the Declaration highlights the role of education and media in raising the awareness on the role of women in public life; both are crucial in spreading a culture of dialogue and tolerance and rejecting all forms of VAWG.
The Declaration is the fruit of efforts of the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence against Women (the Coalition), among others. The Coalition first conceived the idea of a regional Arab convention and lobbied for its introduction in national parliaments and at the level of the LAS. The Coalition then formed a regional committee consisting of several of its members and experts, with the support of Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), to draft the convention. These consultations, lobbying efforts, and advocacy with LAS member states contributed to the decision to proceed with a regional declaration to combat VAWG. The Declaration was approved by the LAS at a ministerial level on March 9, 2022, and officially launched in December 2022.
The declaration’s launch ceremony was chaired by Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development in the UAE, and Her Excellency Dr. Haifa Abu-Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector at the LAS. The Coalition was proud to be represented by its Vice-Chair Magda Al Neweshi. Other bodies including the Gulf Cooperation Council, General Women's Union, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, the European Union, Council of Europe, and United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) were also present.
WFD is very proud to see that after many years of the Coalition’s advocating and lobbying for this Declaration – the first of its kind in the region – it has now been officially launched by a prominent regional body. The Declaration not only makes a public statement about the importance of tackling VAWG in the region, but also outlines commitments on how to do so. The Coalition, with the support of WFD, will continue to collaborate on a regional level including to push for the roll-out and fulfilment of the Declaration and its provisions.