Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

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Fred på jorden får symbolisera vad bloggförfattarenfrån Syrien vill uppnå med sin aktivism.
FOTO: privat

Arab Women from Passive to Active Voices

As the trend of revolutions is sweeping the Arab countries, the link between the status quo in the whole region on the one hand and the women's rights and empowerment of their role on the other hand, has become an essential part of many discussions today.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union has ranked the Arab region as the weakest region in terms of women participating in the parliaments with the inclusion of 12,4 percent. This percentage varies from 0 percent in some countries to 25 percent in some others.

In Syria, women achieved some sort of advancement in terms of their participation in the political sphere. Women constitute 12 percent of parliament's seats compared to 3 percent in 1970 while their engagement in municipalities is still very low, 3 percent. However, despite the quantitative progress for women’s status in Syria, the qualitative development endure complex challenges and major needs that have to be further assessed and examined so that tangible resolutions can be adopted accordingly.

It is worth mentioning that more than 90 percent of the female members of parliaments are very well connected and have associations with the ruling party and their names are already enlisted.

In ministerial allocation, one or two female ministers are usually assigned for the non-sensitive positions like ministries of culture or social affairs and labor (the last cabinet included one female minister of economy in a precedent of its kind). However, Arab or Syrian women never serve in critical ministries or leading roles. This strongly reflects lack of confidence in women capabilities as well absence of their involvement in the decision-making positions at different levels.

Patriarchal laws in the way of women’s empowerment

Though Arab countries are not homogenous they share common features that formulate a distinctive impact on people in general and women in particular. Tackling the various challenges that face women progression in politics, security, and all other economical and societal levels require immense efforts and genuine will. A number of difficulties encountering women empowerment range from economic dependency, patriarchal laws and norms, cultural features, women's low self-confidence, inadequacies of the institutional and legal frameworks, lack of cooperation and coordination among the few existing women's organizations, and the absence of programs that promote women's responsibilities in peace and post-conflict process. Obviously, the challenges are enormous while the practical programs, building capacity, raising awareness, and campaigns are very small.

capacity building from international organizations

The drastic developments in the region urge the need to escape the dilemma of marginalizing Arab women. The national and international women's organizations could always contribute and cooperate to assist in building the capacity of the women in the region with the local context in mind. They could help women in taking the lead during the different phases of the peace and democratic transition process while implementing feasible programs and initiatives accordingly. The impending period require women to take a vital role in drafting legislations and constitutions, making decisions, as well as building an institutionalized society that serve both human rights and women rights.

As women in the Arab realm, we need to revisit our understanding of ourselves; we need to reorient our own agenda and our own vision and we need to move forward from passive to active voices.

Jasmine Roman,
a pseudonym for an independent Syrian female who has participated in events and trainings relevant to democracy, human rights, international dialogue, civil society organizations, leadership, and social media.