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The UAE is among four countries that have attained the largest progress in women’s political representation over a 25-year period, revealed an Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, report.

According to the report ‘Women in parliament: 1995 – 2020’, the largest progress in women’s representation has been achieved by “Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, Andorra and Bolivia, with +57, +50, +42.8 and + 42.3 percentage points gained between 1995 and 2020, respectively, in their lower or single houses.”

The IPU report noted that global women’s parliamentary participation has more than doubled over the past 25 years, reaching 24.9 percent in 2020, up from 11.3 percent in 1995.

The UAE has positioned itself in fourth position globally as a result of the UAE’s 50:50 ratio for parliamentary participation. The report noted that the UAE is among three countries that have made “great strides in women’s participation” following the adoption of the 2019 presidential decree mandating gender parity in the UAE’s Federal National Council, FNC.

The report went on to cite the importance of quotas to drive up women’s representation in parliaments. “Before 1995, only two countries – Argentina and Nepal – applied legislated gender quotas,” the report noted adding that today, “elections in 81 countries are held under legislation that provides for gender quotas.”

The FNC and the IPU strengthened their mutual ties by signing a cooperation and technical partnership agreement in March 2014, which is the first to be signed by the IPU with a national parliament, on the sidelines of the participation of the Emirati Parliamentary Division in the IPU’s General Assembly “129-130,” held in Geneva from 12th to 20th March, 2014.

Source: wam.ae

In commemoration of the International Women’s Day, the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) celebrates the achievements of the women’s rights agenda, particularly the implementation of Jordan’s National Action Plan (JONAP) on the UN Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.

Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction, while stressing the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security, according to the UN’s website.

The ARDD, on behalf of Jordan National NGOs Forum (JONAF), represented by the Arab Cultural Forum, brought together representatives from the government, security agencies, educational institutions, representatives of civil society organisations and diplomatic missions in Jordan at Al Hussein Youth Sport City to mark the event, according to an ARDD statement.

The ARDD acknowledged the efforts of women in the armed and security forces, as well as the role of civil society organisations in advocating for gender-specific priorities and needs in the implementation of the JONAP, the statement said.

Within this framework, the ARDD is partnering with UN Women to encourage “strong, confident and passionate women” who believe they can make a difference in their societies and are able to join efforts in peace and security in their communities. This initiative is being supported by the governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, according to the statement. 

“The authorities in Jordan have committed themselves to adopting UN Resolution 1325, and Jordan initiated the creation of leadership institutions to empower and enhance the role of women in the country,” Basil Al Tarawneh, head of Al Nahda Arab Cultural Forum, was quoted in the statement as saying.

Samar Muhareb, CEO of the ARDD, said in the statement: “Jordan has made several achievements in terms of involving women at all levels. However, additional efforts are needed to enhance their participation in the strategic decision-making process, especially in light of regional humanitarian crises, which are affecting women and girls severely.”

The ARDD’s research on “Jordanian Women in the Context of Conflict Prevention and Resolution”, issued in November of 2019, revealed a “positive influence” of young women in promoting a culture of peace and tolerance in their communities.  It also showed that women’s self-perception is an “influential factor” in their motivation and willingness to engage in their communities, noted the statement.

“Evidence shows that women’s empowerment and participation contribute to sustainable peace, security and economic growth. Through the implementation of Jordan’s National Action Plan on UN Resolution 1325, we are promoting civil society and women grassroots’ direct and meaningful participation towards the full achievement of its objectives in an inclusive manner,” said Tamar Tavartkiladze on behalf of UN Women Jordan.

Col. Khaleda Al Twal, Chief of Public Security Directorate’s Women’s Police Department, highlighted the department’s focus on equal pay in order to promote gender equality, in adherence with UN requests.

Salma Nims, secretary general at the Jordanian National Commission for Women, highlighted the active participation of Jordanian civil society organisations in the implementation of Resolution 1325 and their partnership with security agencies.

Source: The Jordan Times

Saudi Arabia is set to launch a female football league, two years after women were first allowed into stadiums in the Gulf kingdom.

The league will play its matches in the capital, Riyadh, and two other cities.

The creation of the league is the latest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms in Saudi Arabia, which has long been seen as one of the world’s strictest societies.

Campaigners say much more remains to be done for women’s rights.

Officials say the aim of the latest move is to boost female participation in sport.

“The launch of the [league] bolsters women’s participation in sports at the community level and will generate increased recognition for women’s sports achievements,” the government-run Saudi Sports for All Federation said.

Saudi women were first allowed into a football stadium in January 2018 – the same year that the Gulf kingdom ended a decades-long ban on female drivers.

Last year, a royal decree allowed Saudi women to travel abroad without a male guardian’s permission and restaurant segregation was scrapped.

However, several prominent women’s rights advocates have been arrested even as the government has made reforms.

Source: BBC

Saudi Arabia is still working rigorously towards integrating more women across the board, from supporting their appointment in top leadership positions and celebrating their achievements in all sectors, to proving safe and supportive environments for them at work through various initiatives. 

As part of its efforts, the country’s Human Resources Development Fund Program, also known as Hadaf or HRDF, established the Saudi Women Empowerment Program, which offers two core programs – Qurrat and Wusool – designed to encourage Saudi women to enter and remain in the workforce.

Qurrat in particular is a key component in facilitating the lives of working mothers as it is a national childcare initiative supported by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Today, the results are in, to date, 2,514 women have benefitted from nurseries and daycare centers and services that have been set up in various regions of across the Kingdom. HRDF has also made amendments to the Qurrat program, ensuring that the support period can cover up to two children until they reach the age of six years of age. It also covers part of the cost of daycare for working mothers, contributing up to $213 per child in daycare in the first year.

In June 2019, it was reported that since HRDF’s Wusool program was established, a staggering 40,000 Saudi women have benefitted from it. Wusool provides affordable, subsidized transportation solutions enabling working women in Saudi Arabia to travel to and from work, and ultimately encouraging their contribution towards the country’s socio-economic progress, in line with the goals and objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Last year, data released by Pew Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has had the highest growth rate among G20 nations of women joining the workforce in the past two decades. Across industries and sectors, women are taking up jobs more than ever before, breaking into the Kingdom’s once male-dominated workplaces, and these numbers have been made possible by initiatives like Qurrat and Wusool.

Source: Abouther

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizadeh, has announced that she is permanently leaving her country for Europe.

The 21-year-old wrote in an Instagram post explaining why she was defecting, “Let me start with a greeting, a farewell or condolences,” “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran who they have been playing with for years.”

Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal after claiming bronze in the 57kg category of Taekwondo at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Affectionately known in Iran as “The Tsunami,” Alizadeh announced she was leaving her birth country amid searing criticism of the regime in Tehran.

“They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me,” she wrote, adding that credit for her success always went to those in charge.

“I wasn’t important to them. None of us mattered to them, we were tools,” Alizadeh added, explaining that while the regime celebrated her medals, it criticized the sport she had chosen: “The virtue of a woman is not to stretch her legs!”

Reports of her defection first surfaced Thursday, with some Iranians suggesting she had left for the Netherlands. It was unclear from her post what country Alizadeh had gone to.

On Friday the head of Iran’s Taekwondo Federation, Seyed Mohammad Pouladgar, claimed Alizadeh had assured both her father and her coach that she was traveling as part of her vacation, a trip he claimed was paid for by the Iranian government. He dismissed the reports of Alizadeh’s defection as politically motivated rumors amplified by the foreign media.

Alizadeh confirmed the rumors Saturday, saying she “didn’t want to sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery” and that she did not want to be complicit with the regime’s “corruption and lies.”

“My troubled spirit does not fit with your dirty economic ties and tight political lobbies. I wish for nothing else than for Taekwondo, safety and for a happy and healthy life, she said adding that she was not invited to go to Europe.

She said the decision was harder than winning Olympic gold. “I remain a daughter of Iran wherever I am,” she said.

Her defection came amid anti-government protests in cities across Iran Saturday and international pressure after Iran admitted it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner, killing all 176 people aboard.

Canada, Sweden and other countries whose citizens died on the plane have increased demands on Tehran to deliver a complete and transparent investigation against the backdrop of fresh US sanctions on Iran and a dangerous escalation with Washington.

“Iran will continue to lose more strong women unless it learns to empower and support them,” said US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus about Alizadeh’s defection.

Source: CNN

Saudi Arabia’s state security agency says a social media post on one of its accounts that categorised feminism as extremism was a mistake.

The promotional video categorised feminism, homosexuality and atheism as dangerous ideas and warned Saudis to be vigilant against them.

The security agency says it is investigating the video.

Saudi Arabia is trying to shake off its image as one of the most repressive countries in the world for women.

The animated clip was posted to the Twitter account of the State Security Presidency over the weekend. The agency reports directly to King Salman.

The agency said in a statement that the video contained multiple mistakes and the makers of the video did not do their job properly.

The Saudi Human Rights Commission also released a statement saying that feminism was not a crime. However, it did not make reference to homosexuality or atheism.

Saudi Arabia has no written laws concerning sexual orientation or gender identity, but judges use principles of Islamic law to sanction people suspected of extra-marital sexual relations, homosexual sex or other “immoral” acts, according to US-based Human Rights Watch.

The video has been criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty International.

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said: “This announcement is extremely dangerous and has serious implications for the rights to freedom of expression and life, liberty and security in the country.”

The video comes as Saudi Arabia continues a programme of reforms, many of which focus on women’s rights.

The government lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018 and made changes to the male guardianship system this August, allowing women to apply for passports and travel independently without permission from a man.

They were also given the right to register births, marriage or divorce.

However, women continue to face numerous restrictions on their lives, and several women’s rights activists who campaigned for the changes have been detained and put on trial. Some of them alleged to have been tortured in prison.

Men who had supported the activists’ cause or defended them in court were also arrested.

Source: BBC

For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman was nominated to serve as the chief intelligence officer for an Israel Defense Forces regional command on Monday, the army said.

Col. “Nun” — who for security reasons can only be identified by her rank and first Hebrew initial of her name — was named as the next chief intelligence officer for the IDF Central Command, which operates in the West Bank.

Nun was drafted into the IDF in 2000 and served in a host of positions within Military Intelligence before her appointment to the high-ranking and highly sensitive role on Monday. It was not immediately clear when she would enter the new position.

Nun’s appointment was one of several announced by the IDF on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Eyal Harel was nominated to replace Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, who resigned suddenly last week ahead of a television report alleging he had multiple sexual relationships with subordinates in violation of military rules while he was commander of the navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit.

Last Wednesday, Elbaz sent a letter to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and the head of the Israel Navy Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit requesting to leave his position immediately.

“Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz asked to end his position and resign from the IDF over publication of events that allegedly occurred more than 10 years ago and which included behavior that does not match the accepted norms of the IDF,” the military said in a statement.

Kohavi and Sharvit accepted his request.

“Brig. Gen. Elbaz is a high-ranking officer who has served in a variety of combat positions and contributed directly to the security of the State of Israel. The chief of staff determined that there is no place for these norms [he displayed] in the IDF and that he will show zero tolerance toward these types of incidents in the future,” the IDF said.

Another naval officer also stepped down last week in connection to the affair.

Col. Nun’s appointment as the first female chief intelligence officer of a regional command comes weeks after the IDF’s first female commander of an air force aviation squadron entered her position.

Last month, Lt. Col. “Gimel” — who for security reasons can also only be referred to by her rank and first initial of her Hebrew name — took command of the Nachshon Squadron, which operates surveillance aircraft.

“I believe that it is our duty in the Israel Defense Forces to fulfill the inherent potential in women. We are still far from this goal, but I am sure that this process will continue and that we will appoint female commanders and soldiers in a wide variety of positions in the air force and in the IDF in general,” the head of the air force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said at Gimel’s entrance ceremony.

Source: Times of India