On international Women’s Day and under the slogan “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in the World of Covid-19”, the League of Arab States celebrated what women around the world are fighting for, while they were in the front lines confronting the Coronavirus pandemic, stressing that “Women are important in decision-making positions, in their full and effective participation in public life, and in the elimination of all forms of violence, to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
The statement of the Arab League, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, says that “the presence of women during the Covid-19 pandemic in decision-making positions would positively affect the ability of governments to respond to those crises by developing policies that reflect diverse life experiences and affect issues that directly impact women’s lives, such as education, health, economic development and conflict resolution.
Endeavors and overpriced bill
Ambassador Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General for Social Affairs at the League of Arab States said that at the regional level, the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States – Social Affairs Sector, Women, Family and Childhood Administration – has always been keen to keep pace with the international community in the celebration of the International Women’s Day as an affirmation to its commitment in achieving gender equality and the advancement of the status of women in the Arab region.
Abu Ghazaleh indicated that in this context the “Arab Statement” – issued by the Arab regional l preparatory meeting for the United Nations Women’s Committee, which was organized by the General Secretariat in cooperation with UN Women and which was approved by the Arab Women’s Committee at the ministerial level, on February 11th – addressed the main points on which the Arab region priorities are based in this regard.
For its side, the Arab Women Organization congratulated women all over the world in general, and women in the Arab world in particular, for their effective role in protecting societies and helping everyone overcome crises despite the heavy loads on their shoulders.
A statement by the organization indicated that “the new pressures – by which women have suffered – during the period of the imposed home ban due to the spread of the Corona virus, which led to an increase in domestic violence, and doubled unpaid care duties.”
Despite the congratulations and endeavors, solutions and plans were not presented by neither the League nor the Organization in the areas where the scene appears completely different, such as Syria, Yemen, Libya and Palestine, where women pay an exorbitant bill under the impact of armed conflicts.
Loss and Displacement
In Syria, which will complete 10 years since the launch of the Syrian revolution followed by a crushing war and a global conflict to control and to impose hegemony there, the destruction of infrastructure, the unsettlement and displacement of millions of civilians, the Syrian woman appears in an unenviable situation between the loss of the breadwinner and the beloved children in terms of death and migration, and suffering represented by displacement and asylum, in addition to exploitation and early interruption of education, due to the war launched by the Assad regime against his people.
According to United Nations statistics, 82 percent of women faced challenges in terms of transportation and having facilities for children, and 55 percent faced problems related to insecurity, while 43 percent faced challenges related to working conditions, family obligations by 39 percent, and 30 percent regarding social and cultural traditions.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Population Fund had warned of the deterioration of the conditions of the besieged women and girls in Syria, especially in the northwest of the country, where hostilities caused mass displacement, human suffering and damage to civilian facilities.
The Fund said in a recent report, “women and girls are bearing the brunt of this crisis and are struggling to survive and caring for traumatized children, as the number of displaced people estimated is about 960,000 people, 80 percent of whom are women and children.”
Human rights organizations said that ten years ago since the start of the Syrian revolution, nearly 14,000 women over the age of eighteen have been martyred, most of them killed by the Assad regime, in addition to documenting more than 150,000 women are the outcome of cases of arbitrary detention and coercive absenteeism.
Whereas in Yemen, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Human Rights, Nabil Abdel Hafeez, affirmed that “the armed conflict was an extraordinary setback for Yemeni women, especially in the areas controlled by the Houthi Militia, and blew up all the political and economic gains they had achieved after the 2011 revolution, which came to culminate its strive for decades.”
“Rights Radar”, an organization for human rights in the Arab world recently documented about 17 thousand violations against women in Yemen during the period from September 2014, when Iranian-backed Houthi militia took control of most of Yemen, until the end of December 2019.
SAM in its recent report displayed shocking numbers about the size of violations, and names of prisons that are supposed to detain, conceal coercively, and torture women in Yemen, as well as the names of personalities who are responsible for abusive arrests, concealment and torture.
The report, entitled “Women in Yemen: Prolonged Suffering and Appalling Abuses”, documents the testimonies of victims, relatives of victims and eyewitnesses who spoke to Sam about serious violations against women in Yemen during the years of war, especially women detained in the prisons of the Houthi militia, including prisons of Police departments and military points.
“Sam” said that it had recorded more than 4000 cases of violations by the end of 2020, including murder, physical injury, abusive arrest, coercive concealment, torture, and prevention of movement, in addition to more than 900,000 displaced women in the camps of Ma’rib, committed by the parties to the conflict in Yemen. The Houthi militia is at the forefront of violating women’s rights, with a percentage of 70 percent.
Besides, the report of the World Health Organization’s office in Libya, last year, showed that more than 200,000 displaced women of productive age need humanitarian assistance, and the number of people displaced due to the war in the capital, Tripoli, is more than 140,000 people whom it was noted that most of them are women and little children, after their breadwinner was killed in the war.
In Palestine, the oldest Arab conflict, the Palestinian women have been striving for generations on several fronts in a tiring and continuous battle, which has turned them into fighters, martyrs, prisoners and to stalking women. Statistics indicate that Israel has arrested 16,000 Palestinian women since 1967, and today there are 43 Palestinian women in Israeli prisons.
It is noteworthy that the League Council at the level of foreign ministers adopted, in its regular session (155) held last week, both the “strategy and action plan of the Arab Network of Peace Mediators” – which was prepared by the Social Affairs Sector, the Department of Women, Family and Childhood in cooperation with UN Women. It is considered the first of its kind in this field and an important nucleus to support women’s participation in decision-making and negotiation processes – and the “Arab Strategy for Prevention and Response to Combat All Forms of Violence in the conditions of Refugees, especially Sexual Violence against Women and Girls” which was prepared by the Social Affairs Sector, the Department of Women, Family and Childhood in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees affirming the keenness of the General Secretariat to work on combating violence against women and protecting them during armed conflicts and post-conflict times.