[WLP, Bethesda, 25 May 2011] Women’s Learning Partnership has good news from the Equality Without Reservation Campaign! This coalition of women’s rights organizations works for full ratification and implementation of CEDAW, the international women’s treaty, in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. Supported by WLP, the campaign includes WLP Morocco/Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM) and WLP Lebanon/Collective for Research & Training on Development-Action (CRTD-A).
Women face both challenges and opportunities in the current MENA region turmoil – the classic definition of a crisis. Each country in transition is dealing differently with women’s rights and women’s inclusion in the process. Meanwhile, vocal fundamentalists are trying to fill the void left by the lack of strong, egalitarian political parties with clear rights-based agendas.
To discuss strategies for this difficult period, representatives from civil society, women’s rights organizations, the public sector, international organizations including UN Women, and the diplomatic corps from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia convened in Rabat May 20-22 at the invitation of the Equality Without Reservation campaign, WLP, and ADFM.
The Moroccan Minister of Women’s Affairs, Nouzha Skalli, galvanized the session by announcing that the Moroccan government will soon ratify CEDAW’s Optional Protocol. This reflects the fact that while in Egypt zero women were on the constitutional committee that created its recent reforms, in Morocco the new 18-member Consultative Commission for the Constitutional Reform includes five women.
Women’s rights groups in Morocco earlier created the Feminist Spring for Equality and Democracy coalition, which presented demands to that commission and called upon women’s supporters worldwide to sign a letter of endorsement.
Women’s rights groups issued three key demands:
- The primacy of international conventions such as CEDAW over national laws;
- Equality in civil rights between men and women; and
- Institutionalization of affirmative mechanisms for women’s substantive equality.
More good news: the transitional government in Tunisia has endorsed parity for women and men in the next National Assembly that will draft the country’s new constitution.
Click here for a detailed update on this past weekend’s convening in Rabat.