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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 27 Oct 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Taliban Let Girls Return to Some High Schools, Segregating Classes and Teachers by Gender

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 October 2021

• First Indoor Football Championship for Female Students in Saudi Arabia to Kick-Off

• At United Nations, Afghan Women's "Simple" Appeal: Don't Let Taliban In

• Egypt's National Council of Women Chief Maya Morsi Presents before UNCHR Figures, Legislations Reflecting Women Empowerment

• Turkish, Syrian Women Join Forces for Olive Production

• Will Quota Seats In Iraqi Politics Advance Women's Rights?

• Unemployment among Egyptian Women Declines To 17.7%: Planning Minister to World Economic Forum Directors

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islam-women-feminism/taliban-girl-education-afghanistan/d/125665

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 Taliban Let Girls Return to Some High Schools, Segregating Classes and Teachers by Gender

Christina Goldbaum

Oct 28, 2021

  

Taliban's lack of clarity has led to increased worry among female educators and students who fear the group could return to the hardline restrictions of their five-year rule in the 1990s [File: Jalil Rezayee/EPA]

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Mazar-E-Sharif: When Nargis and her sisters were finally allowed to return to school last month, they braced for the new world outside their home. Following their mom's lead, each layered on a black dress, black Abaaya, headscarf and Niqab, as well as a face mask. Minutes later, overcome by anxiety, Nargis' sister Hadiya, 16, fainted even before leaving the house. When Hadiya went outside and saw a Talib for the first time, tears poured down her face.

Still, the girls consider themselves lucky. In Mazar-e-Sharif, a commercial hub in Afghanistan's north, the Taliban have allowed middle- and high school-aged girls back into the classrooms, even as in the rest of the country most have been forced to stay home.

Under pressure from foreign governments and international aid groups, Taliban officials insist that things will be different for girls and women from the last time the militants were in power, and that some form of education for them will be permitted, including graduate and postgraduate programmes. Some middle and high schools have already been allowed to reopen for girls in the north, where women have long played a more prominent role in society than in the Taliban's southern heartland.

But many parents and teachers still have doubts that the move means the new government, which so far has kept women out of government and most public-facing jobs, will rule any different than before. "They may open schools, but indirectly they are trying to destroy women's education," said Shakila, Nargis and Hadiya's mother. Already in Mazar-e-Sharif, the conditions for girls' return are so restrictive that many are simply forgoing education altogether.

New rules segregating classes and teachers by gender have exacerbated a severe teacher shortage and threaten to eliminate higher education opportunities for girls. Many parents have kept their daughters home, afraid to send them to school with armed Talibs lining the streets. Others no longer see the value of educating daughters who would graduate into a country where job opportunities for women seemed to disappear overnight.

The Taliban have not clearly stated why some girls have been allowed to return, but not others. But other recent policy decisions, like excluding women from top government positions and shuttering the ministry of women's affairs, have sent a clear message to Afghan women: Even if they can get an education, their role in society will be circumscribed.

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/taliban-let-girls-return-to-some-high-schools-but-with-big-caveats/articleshow/87324496.cms

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First Indoor Football Championship for Female Students in Saudi Arabia to Kick Off

October 25, 2021

 

The tournament has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world. (SPA)

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RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s first indoor football championship for female university students will kick off here on Tuesday. The Saudi Universities Sports Federation (SUSF) is organizing the tournament that coincides with the second sports season for female university students.

Minister of Education and Chairman of the Board of Directors of SUSF Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh will grace the occasion of launching the sports season at King Saud University (KSU). Those who will be attending the launching ceremony include Dr. Ghada Bint Saif, deputy president of KSU, and Dr. Mezna Al-Marzooqi, advisor at SUSF and head of the Female Students’ Sports Development Team at SUSF.

SUSF President Dr. Khalid Almuzaini said that this is the first indoor football tournament for female students in the history of Saudi Arabia.

“Developing female students’ sports is one of the most important projects of SUSF. This is the second season for female students’ competitions and the first season was held last year, despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

He stressed that the federation seeks in all its activities the importance of equal opportunities for both genders.

SUSF Secretary Dr. Abdulelah Al-Silwi said that the federation would hold eight championships for female students during this season. “The federation enjoys great cooperation from Saudi universities to make the female competitions a great success,” he said.

For her part, Dr. Mezna Al-Marzooqi congratulated SUSF officials, especially the women’s team, on the occasion of the start of the second season of the female students’ championships.

Director of the Futsal Championship Haifa Al-Suwailem said that preparations for the tournament are in full swing. A total of 94 players representing seven universities will participate in the tournament, which will conclude on Friday.

The universities include Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, King Saud University, Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University, Northern Border University, Al-Jouf University, King Faisal University, and Inaya Medical Colleges.

Source: Saudi Gazette

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/612702

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At United Nations, Afghan Women's "Simple" Appeal: Don't Let Taliban In

October 22, 2021

 

Left to right: Former Afghan diplomat Asila Wardak, former Afghan politician and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi, Afghan journalist Anisa Shaheed and former Afghan politician, Naheed Fareed speak to reporters outside the U.N. Security Council, in New York, U.S. October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Michelle Nichols

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United Nations: A group of Afghan women urged the United Nations to block the Taliban from gaining a seat at the world body, calling for better representation for their country during a visit to the organisation's New York headquarters on Thursday.

"It's very simple," former Afghan politician and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi told reporters outside the UN Security Council in New York. "The UN needs to give that seat to somebody who respects the rights of everyone in Afghanistan."

"We are talked a lot about, but we are not listened to," she said of Afghan women. "Aid, money, recognition - they are all leverage that the world should use for inclusion, for respect to the rights of women, for respect to the rights of everybody."

Koofi was joined by former politician, Naheed Fareed, former diplomat Asila Wardak and journalist Anisa Shaheed.

"When the Taliban took Afghanistan ... they said that they will give permission to women to resume their jobs, to go back to the school, but they didn't keep that promise," said Fareed.

Since seizing power in mid-August, Taliban leaders have vowed to respect women's rights in accordance with sharia, or Islamic law. But under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women could not work and girls were banned from school. Women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative when they left home.

The United Nations is considering rival claims on who should represent Afghanistan. The Taliban nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as UN ambassador, while Ghulam Isaczai - the UN envoy representing the government ousted by the Taliban - is seeking to remain in the country's seat.

UN member states are expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Wardak urged countries to pressure the Taliban "to put their words in action" when it comes to women's rights, adding: "If you're going to give them a seat, there should be conditions."

The women spoke to reporters before addressing a UN event on support for Afghan women and girls, organized by Britain, Qatar, Canada, UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

The UN Security Council also met separately on Thursday to discuss women, peace and security.

"Women and girls in Afghanistan are pinning their hopes and dreams on this very council and world body to help them recover their rights to work, travel and go to school," Isaczai told the 15-member council. "It would be morally reprehensible if we do nothing and let them down."

Source: ND TV

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/afghanistan-taliban-takeover-at-united-nations-afghan-womens-simple-appeal-dont-let-taliban-in-2584346

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Egypt's National Council of Women Chief Maya Morsi Presents before UNCHR Figures, Legislations Reflecting Women Empowerment

26 Oct 2021

CAIRO – 26 October 2021: President of the National Council of Women (NCW) Maya Morsi presented Tuesday before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva a report on the progress Egypt made to Implement articles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The following is NCW president's speech:

I would like to express my pleasure today for presenting Egypt’s report after an absence of more than ten years, during which, Egypt witnessed many political, social, economic events and developments,

I affirm that my presentation is complement to what was stated in the report and the responses we provided to the questions received to Egypt.

The esteemed Committee

Egypt witnessed the January 25 revolution of 2011 followed by a dark year due to the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, during this year women’s achievements were subjected to a setback, the percentage of representation in Parliament dropped to 2%, while it was 12% before the revolution, there were demands in Parliament to amend personal status laws with the repealing of the law of khul’ (which is a woman’s right to divorce herself), the reduction of the age of  child custody from 15 to 7 years, the reduction of the age of marriage, the repealing of the law on female genital mutilation “FGM”, directions appeared to exclude women from leadership and executive positions, and The history of the Egyptian women's struggle was obliterated in the school curricula.

That period also witnessed the adoption of the 2012 Constitution, which represented a major setback to the rights of Egyptian women, where it dealt with woman from the perspective of the family only, not as a partner in the country, through only one article moreover the only female judge of the Supreme Constitutional Court was excluded, this deprived right, which was recovered in December 2020 with the appointment of a woman judge at the Supreme Constitutional Court.

It is worth noting that the premises of the National Council for Women was completely burnt down during the events of the January 2011 revolution, But it gathered its strength thereof, and continued its work until the reformation in 2012 to face a greater challenge during the rule of the Brotherhood, which fought NCW with all its might through deliberate malicious campaigns to intimidate and prevent it from defending women’s rights, and expressing their hopes.

Then the June 30, 2013 revolution commenced, where women led and proved to be the primary and 1st line of defense for their rights, the 2014 constitution was issued and included more than 20 articles regulating the issues of citizenship, equality and criminalizing violence and non-discrimination.

Esteemed Committee

2016 witnessed the re-formation of the National Council for Women, to include for the first-time representation of women with disabilities, rural, and young women.

I now proudly stand before you, , as the third and youngest elected president of the National Council for Women, to assure that the Council, by virtue of the constitution and the law, has become a firm national mechanism with a strong and active presence, as the law regulating its work issued in 2018 becoming an independent national council, where its president holds the rank of minister, reporting directly to the President of the Republic, as he is the supreme executive authority in Egypt, and to both government and parliament.

The number of women beneficiaries of the activities increased to more than 28 million beneficiaries in 2020 ,while it was 393 thousand in 2014 , and the budget allocated to NCW multiplied by nearly five times.

Esteemed committee

The Egyptian government composes of264 units in its central and a local structure that includes public units and departments to achieve equal opportunities for the empowerment of women in all ministries and the affiliated bodies and directorates in 27 governorates.

Esteemed committee

In June 2014, a new era began, when the President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi assumed the presidency, a conscious and enlightened political will that respected and valued women was born with the belief that empowering them is a national duty and an inherent human right.

This was embodied in a historical precedent by declaring 2017 a “year of Egyptian Women, and the “National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030” was launched, within the framework of the sustainable development goals, in line with Egypt’s Vision 2030, and in a participatory approach with all concerned parties and civil society.

The United Nations declared that Egypt is the first in the world that launches the national strategy within the framework of the sustainable development goals.

In parallel, the "Egyptian Women's Observatory" was established as an independent observatory to ensure the follow-up of the implementation of the strategy through the accurate and continuous application of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

The esteemed committee

The National Human Rights strategy was recently launched, where women is a main focus area, in consistent with the objectives of the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030

With regard to planning responsive to the needs of Egyptian women, a national review of the statistics was conducted; to set priorities and produce accurate data.

The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development prepared the first follow-up guide for women-sensitive planning. The Ministry of Finance is working on reviving the application of the principles of women-sensitive budgeting, which Egypt adopted to implement in 2008, and Egypt has also begun to implement participatory budgeting

The allocations directly related to women in the state’s general budget multiplied this year, For example, within the framework of health programs, they reached 202 million EGP, 19 billion EGP for social protection, 179.3 million pounds for health insurance for women heads of households ,1837 billion EGP to spend on services provided to women and men without discrimination , half of them are directed to women ,and 2.9 billion EGP for women in the family development plan to be launched soon

Microfinance balances have grown to reach 9 billion EGP, at a rate of 11%, and the percentage of women benefiting there from has reached 62%, while 4.3 billion EGP in loans have been provided to women entrepreneurs during the past two years.

Esteemed committee:

The constitutional rights of women have been translated into laws, strategies and executive programs, a constitutional quota that guarantees the presence of 25% of women in Parliament, 25% in local councils, 10% in the Senate, and tangible representation in the boards of directors of financial companies and the banking sector.

At the same time, several campaigns were launched; Empowering women and protecting them from all forms of violence, combating information technology crimes, safe transportation for them, making them aware of their rights and the services provided by the state to them, inclusion of men and young people, from these campaigns; the “Taa’ Marboota", the Secret of Your Strength” campaign, which succeeded in achieving 135 million outreach, knocking-doors campaigns achieved 42 million visits, the "ethical code for women in the media" was launched, and a media observatory was established to follow up on the implementation thereof.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a program was adopted to raise awareness of the repercussions of Covid-19, and the development of referral systems and hotlines to provide economic and psychological support in addition to electronic awareness campaigns, moreover, campaigns to combat cybercrime were launched in partnership with Facebook and Instagram platforms.

The National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons was established and headed by a woman, the first hosting shelter for victims of human trafficking was established, lines were allocated to report these crimes, a presidential campaign was launched to raise awareness on the dangers of illegal immigration led by the Ministry of Migration, and Specialized criminal departments were established within the courts of appeal at the republic level for these crimes .

A significant study is also undergone the issues related to the situation of domestic workers, to provide protection with a legal and legitimate framework for them, a draft contract to improve the conditions of female workers in this sector was also presented.

The esteemed committee

Egypt is the first Arab country to launch a survey "The Economic Cost of Violence against Women in Egypt.

During the covid-19 pandemic, several opinion polls were launched for Egyptian women about the covid-19 and the consequences on the family, it started in April 2020 and the results showed a 19% increase in violence rates among family members, 7% the rate at which wives were exposed to violence by their husbands, this data is periodically updated.

Egypt has also recently adopted a set of important executive procedures and policies in the field of women's protection, including the decree of the Prime Minister to create the first one stop center for the protection of women victims of violence, where a consolidated headquarters is established for the services of the concerned authorities and ministries in one place to facilitate the procedures followed, a code of conduct has been adopted in the transportation sector to promote the safe movement of women, an ethical code to promote a safe work environment for women in financial companies, 26 units were established to combat harassment and violence within universities, four medical response units within universities hospitals, a unit to combat violence against women in the Ministry of Justice, units in directorates of The Ministry of Interior, and 27 digital offices for family offices in the Public Prosecution

The complaints office of the National Council for Women includes a network of legal supporters, where there are in the administrative structure80 lawyers and case managers, and 450 volunteer lawyers, provides legal, psychological and social support services and referrals to the concerned authorities.

With regard to the executive procedures and the practical application of the law during the period from January to September 2021, the Complaints Office succeeded in obtaining judicial rulings in favor of the complainant woman in 1,367 cases.

Reporting lines were also provided to assist victims of violence in all its forms in the National Council for Women, the Ministries of Interior and Transport, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, the General Secretariat for Mental Health, and the Attorney General's Office.

While the women’s support offices in the courts received 552 cases,the number of women attending the offices of persons with disabilities in all courts was 1,177, in addition to the family dispute settlement offices in the family courts and the legal aid offices in the courts of first instance,3 forensic clinics were established to medically examine the victims of women in crimes of violence and sexual assault, and the Forensic Medicine Department participated in the protocol for establishing women safety medical units in Egyptian universities

Egypt was chosen from the first ten countries in the Arab States region to implement the Essential Services Package model for the United Nations Population Fund “UNFPA” and the United Nations Women” UN Women”, for the efforts regarding policies related to empowering women and protecting them from all forms of violence, gender equality and women's empowerment, and enacting legislations that addresses all forms of violence ,the first national referral system was prepared to report cases of violence against women, the essential services package targets the ministry of justice, public prosecution, ministry of interior, ministry of health, ministry of social solidarity and other entities.

Training was provided to those who are concerned with providing services to women subjected to violence, judges, female judges, members of the Administrative Prosecution Authority, forensic doctors, doctors and members of the nursing staff in hospitals, NGOs, Lawyers of the Women’s Complaint Office, social workers and psychologists, police officers , representatives of  Anti-violence units, universities, the marriage officers, the family prosecutors’ auditors and members of the Public Prosecution Office

The First National Committee to eradicate of Female Genital Mutilation “FGM” was formed in May 2019, the committee succeeded, with the cooperation of all partners, in achieving 81 million awareness contacts and outreach until September 2021.

 During the COVID-19 pandemic, intensive awareness and media campaigns were organized to raise awareness of the dangers of this crime, Legislative amendments were issuedand activated to increase the punishment to prevent committing the crime.

regarding the executive procedures and the practical application of the FGM law during the period from January to the end of September 2021, 132 reports were received, from them, 92 cases were in which the commission of the crime was ceased, while the number of reports related to female genital mutilation, which have already been committed, reached 40, and was referred to the Public Prosecution. Recently, a ruling was issued applying the new law with a severe penalty.

Esteemed committee:

The percentage of women’s representation in the Egyptian parliament increased to 28%, the President of the Republic multiplied appointments in the Senate to 14%, also, women percentage in the Cabinet increased to 25%, 56% in the diplomatic corps, 27% in the positions of vice- ministers, the deputy governors are 31%, and 44% are members of the National Council for Human Rights.

 A woman was appointed as an advisor to the President of the Republic for National Security in (2014) to be the first woman to hold this high position is considered one of 12 advisors to presidents of the world

For the first time in the Egyptian history, two women have reached the position of governor, the first female president of an economic court, the first deputy governor of the Central Bank,the first female president of the National Council for Human Rights, and a woman runs the World Youth Forum; as well as a women deputy to the president of the House of Senate.

There are 1,988 women out of a total of 4,635 in the Administrative Prosecution Authority,677 are women advisors to the State lawsuits Authority, 37 are women advisors to the head of the State lawsuits Authority , and 66 are women judges, The historic step came after 72 years of struggle, with the appointment of 109women judges and prosecutors to work in the State Council and the Public Prosecution , we are still hoping to increase the number of women judges.

Awareness programs have been launched for women on the importance of participating in elections, the right to vote, and training and mentoring programs, as well as the issuance of national ID cards for women, amounting to about 965,000 ID free of charge. The National Training Academy was established, also led by a woman, aims to achieve human development requirements for youth in all sectors of the state and to improve their capabilities and skills. The principles of equality and women's empowerment have been incorporated into their curricula targeting state employees.

Esteemed committee

In addition to what was mentioned in the report, Egypt chairs the Executive Council of Women development Organization of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, holds the position of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Director of the International Organization Headquarters.

Esteemed committee

The percentage of women graduates of public and private universities reached 57.8%, 56% of women obtained master's and PHD degrees.

The enrollment rate of girls enrolled in education reached 49.2%, while the rate of girls’ enrollment in pre-university education in the rural areas has been close to that in the urban areas in the last three years, the rate of girls’ enrollment in education in the rural areas has increased to be more than in the urban in the last two years, a guide has been produced Promoting gender equality and women's empowerment and equal educational opportunities, and the curricula at all educational levels included a section on women and their national role.

Moreover, the enrollment rate of refugee and migrant students in Egyptian schools has increased during the last three years, with an average enrollment rate of nearly 48%.

There was a decrease in the percentage of girls dropping out of school from 4.5% between 2014-2015 to 2.5% during 2019-2020, the illiteracy rate of women decreased to nearly 20% in 2020, while it was more than 30% in 2014.

The "gender gaps" in the education levels in Egypt have vanished.

Thanks to all these achievements, Egypt joined the category of countries with high human development.

Esteemed committee

In the field of economic empowerment and women's work, which is one of the biggest challenges; the unemployment rate of women decreased from 24% in 2014 to 17.7% in 2020,the participation rate thereof in the labor force dropped to 16.8% in 2020,the percentage of women who hold transaction accounts increased to 47.5% Compared to 27% in 2017.

Egypt calculates the cost of unpaid care, estimated at 496 billion pounds, women and girls bear the responsibilities of caring for children and the elderly, in addition to daily household chores, the imbalance is particularly evident through the social situation.

With regard to tools for integrating the principles of women's empowerment, Egypt has implemented international tools in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and the UN Women.

Esteemed committee

The Presidential Initiative for Women's Health was issued for the early detection of breast cancer and the detection of other diseases. The initiative reached 19 million women, which led to a 50% decrease in the percentage of women with the disease from the third and fourth degree to the first and second degree.

Regarding to reproductive health and family planning, the percentage of women using family planning methods has increased to nearly 60%

Social empowerment services are provided to women, as 31.3 million women benefited from ration cards, 75% of the total beneficiaries of social protection programs until February 2021, and 64% of women benefited from training programs for the micro, small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports established the Higher Committee for Women’s Sports, headed by the National Council for Women, to prepare specialized studies for women’s sports aimed at increasing the number thereof as coaches, players, referees and administrators, and to develop programs and an action plan to meet the challenges facing women in the sports field.

Rural women receive the attention of the Egyptian state, as the percentage of women in the informal sector who benefited from cash support reached 47.4%,the value of the monthly income of rural women leaders increased from 300 to 900 Egyptian pounds, during the Covid-19 pandemic

Rural women have also been participated in savings, loans and financial inclusion programs in partnership with the United Nations and the Central Bank, targeting 500,000 women, the allocations for women in the family development plan amount to 2.9 billion pounds.

And recently, in 2021, the "Hayah Karima Decent Life" program was launched, which aims to enhance infrastructure, and includes programs for economic and social empowerment, the program is the largest development program in Egypt and around the world that includes women and considers planning for their needs, this program includes allocating 800 billion pounds to 58 million citizens, and 50% of them are women, in 4584 Egyptian villages.

Esteemed committee

In addition to what was stated in the report, the Financial guardianship act, the bullying law, the protection of victims of sexual harassment and assault crimes law, the Personal Data Protection online law, were issued, the amendments to female genital mutilation for the third time, the increasing of the penalty for harassment for the second time, and the prevention of discrimination against women in financial services.

Recently, the Central Bank of Egypt issued new regulations to facilitate guardianship transactions over minors' accounts.

Although the Personal Status Law is still in the process of preparation, there are many amendments that have been approved and are related to personal status issues, including the amendment of some provisions of the Penal Code to confront those evading the payment of alimony or those who are stubborn in paying alimonies debts, and regulating some litigation situations and procedures in personal status issues.

There are laws that we still hope to be issued, such as the issuance of a law to prevent child marriage, the strengthening of procedures to prevent forced and temporary marriage, the proposal of a draft regulating domestic workers, the issuance of an alternative penal code for male and female debtors imprisoned “replacing freedom-depriving penalties with public service” , making further legislative amendments to the code of Criminal Procedure for the Protection of Witnesses and reporters, a new Personal Status Law that guarantees the best interest of the child and promotes women's rights and facilitates obtaining all her rights and the rights of her children fully without delay, and we seek to issue a comprehensive law to protect women from violence, including amendments to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure with regard to discriminatory articles, and criminalizing all forms of violence against women.

With regard to the amendments to labor laws, we hope to put legal articles in the labor law that criminalize and punish harassment, violence in the work environment, continue issuing codes of professional conduct that provide the punishment of any discriminatory practices or all forms of violence or harassment in the workplace, to stipulate the principle of Equal pay for equal value, amending the maternity leave in the Labor Law (the private sector) in accordance with the international period, and  the Civil Service Law (which is 120 days),and a proposal for paid paternity leave.

Esteemed committee

The constitution paid attention to persons with disabilities and allocated a percentage for them in Parliament, a law was passed to organize the work of the National Council for Disability, a law for the rights of people with disabilities, a law to criminalize bullying and increase the penalty in case of the victim or the person with disabilities, the application of accessibility models in government buildings, a code of conduct for dealing with women with disabilities in government service agencies, and awareness programs were launched on the laws of the rights of women with disabilities.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity also provides a variety of services to women with disabilities, including: rehabilitation, physical therapy, day and night hosting, training, and scholarships for blind female students.

The number of beneficiaries reached 126,200 women with disabilities, the ministry also launched a campaign to employ people with disabilities, especially women, the number of women with disabilities who benefited from the "Karama" program reached about 258,340, with a total monthly cost of 116.253.000 pounds.

Periodic visits to the women’s prison are organized, providing awareness-raising meetings about public health, health care, basic services such as literacy classes, a comprehensive library, and the possibility of female prisoners to complete their studies, in addition to providing production units such as a sewing workshop and a manual labor workshop.

Female prisoners are paid a fee for selling their products, in addition providing yards for sports activities.

The imprisoned mother has the right to keep her child with her until he reaches the age of four, and to obtain the right of visitation after that age

With regard to equal pay, the National Council for Wages has been reconstituted to include in the membership, the National Council for Women to ensure the study of policies responsive to women's needs.

The Egyptian government also approved a draft law on the rights of the elderly men and women; to emphasize the enhancing of social protection and providing money, housing, care, health and psychological services to them.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity provides cash support of 262,000to elderly women who lack the economic situation that provides them with a decent life, at a value of more than 1 billion pounds annually, 6% of the total cash support budget, The Ministry has 168 nursing homes for the elderly, comprising at least 2,000 men and 2,200 women, and provides them with protection and services, and 70% of them receive pensions.

The Ministry also provides programs to support and empower the elderly in cooperation with Nasser Bank, including providing job opportunities, interest-free loans, and elderly home expenses and others, while the Ministry of Interior allocates separate places for the elderly (including women) and people with disabilities in all police agencies that provide public services.

Esteemed committee

Egypt places the agenda of women, security and peace at the heart & center of its international and regional efforts to achieve peace, in light of the strong political will and sincere commitment to empowering women and girls, Egypt is one of the largest contributors countries to United Nations peacekeeping operations, Egypt's first national plan for women, peace and security is being prepared.

The features of Egypt’s agenda include strengthening the role of women as mediators, preservers and peace builders, and strengthening gender-sensitive peacekeeping operations, In addition to external support for efforts to combat sexual abuse and exploitation in United Nations operations, effective participation in regional mediator networks, and training of Egyptian peacekeeping forces on preserving and building a peace that is sensitive to the situation and needs of women.

With regard to climate and environmental change, environmental camps were set up, aimed at training women and encouraging them to engage in environmentally friendly industries such as waste recycling projects, organic farming, biogas production and alternative energy, awareness was raised on the sustainable management of torrents.

The Ministry of Environment also launched an environmental awareness campaign and solid waste recycling to spread awareness about safe disposal and recycling of solid and agricultural waste, and agricultural waste recycling projects were launched in the governorates.

Esteemed committee

Egypt was the first country in the world, with the testimony of the United Nations, to issue a quick response policy towards the situation of women during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the first country in the world to issue a tracker to monitor the measures taken by the state in response to the needs of women.

The United Nations Development Program and United Nations Women have issued a report confirming that Egypt is the first in the Middle East and North Africa and Arab countries to take measures that take into account the needs of women in light of the pandemic.

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted an Egyptian resolution on strengthening a rapid national and international response to the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls.

Five reports were issued that monitored 165 supporting policies and preventive measures for Egyptian women from March 2020 to January 2021 in the areas of the labor market, protection from violence against women, social protection, policies responsive to women's needs, and financial and economic policies.

The Esteemed Committee

Despite the great achievements and gains mentioned, and the preservation of previous achievements, which have been achieved for women in the field of equality and non-discrimination, there are still challenges that we are working on in partnership with concerned ministries, entities & civil society organizations, including: the persistence of some negative cultural legacies that entrench discrimination against women, and the low percentage of females in the labor force, which is the main challenge facing Egyptian women now.

Finally

I affirm Egypt’s constitutional and legal commitment to the principles of non-discrimination, equality and equal opportunities, and that human rights and freedom under the constitution, are a supreme value that includes rights that shall not be waived, divided or disposed of, and the principles shall be deemed as constitutional texts that the legislator is bound by, shall not be deviated, violated, prejudiced, or disrupted, except by the rules and procedures stipulated in the constitution and under the supervision of the judiciary.

Source: Egypt Today

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/109233/Egypt-s-Maya-Morsi-presents-before-UNCHR-figures-legislations-reflecting

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Turkish, Syrian women join forces for olive production

OCT 28, 2021

Kilis, located near the Turkish-Syrian border, traces its history of olive production back at least 4,000 years. Olive seeds and other discoveries at the ancient site of Oylum Höyük in the province verified that the Bronze Age settlement was among the east’s most important olive hubs, supplying the fruits to lands far away. This was the “oil” of ancient ages, according to Professor Atilla Engin, who leads Oylum Höyük excavations. Most recently, olives and olive oil have served as an inspiration for a group of local women and women from neighboring Syria who took shelter in Kilis due to the ongoing conflict in their homeland.

Undaunted by a patriarchal mindset, which discourages women from adopting a more active role in the economy, women came together for an agricultural cooperative focusing on olive-related products. Supported by a local public development agency, the women managed to produce high-quality olive oil and olives in a short time.

Every harvest season, the women gather the fruit from olive orchards they run just a few meters away from the Syrian border. They prefer traditional harvesting and olive oil extraction methods over newer technology, as it helps achieve the best quality in olive production, an industry that has long been dominated by Turkey’s western provinces. Along with domestic production, they also started exporting their products, like soaps made of olive oil.

The Ipekyolu Development Agency (IKA), a regional body providing financial backing to such initiatives, helped women from the villages of Kocabeyli, Karaçavuş, Süngütepe and Saatli to set up the cooperative, with a grant of $735,000 (TL 7 million). Syrian women soon joined the cooperative, which now has 49 members.

These women hope to serve as role models for others in Kilis. “When we decided to start this cooperative, men in our villages did not believe we could make it. We did not care about what they said,” Hamide Polat, director of the cooperative, says.

The work “changed a lot” in the lives of women, Polat says. “Women have more self-confidence and faith in standing on their own now. The men’s view of women also changed thanks to our work,” she says.

Polat calls on fellow women to never doubt themselves when it comes to starting an enterprise or finding a way to earn a living. “They should never step back and ignore any pressure they face. They do better if united. They should produce something in their spare time by joining forces (with other women) instead of sitting idly,” she said.

An early harvest

Women are among the thousands making a living from olive production in the province. The local governorate provides incentives for olive producers to boost production and guide them to new production methods.

The olive harvest, normally held in November, now starts in early October thanks to changing methods such as cold pressing. Cold pressing is a natural method of olive oil production that does not involve the use of heat or chemical additions to speed up the process.

In a bid to keep the product “organic,” olive producers use handpicking methods and conventional sieves.

Kilis is home to 266,000 decares (65,730 acres) of land for olive production and more than 3.5 million olive trees. Its yearly production amounts to 9,146 tons.

Burhan Akyılmaz, secretary-general of the IKA, says they provided funds for 12 projects in Kilis for olive production. “We are investing in the development of olive production and set up a union of organic olive oil producers. We built olive oil and oil processing facilities and support small and medium enterprises here. Kilis’ olive oil and olives now have an international reputation,” he said.

Akyılmaz noted that local producers recently started exports to countries as far away as the United States, Canada, Germany, Qatar, Oman and Japan. He says their next goal is diversifying olive products, such as promoting the production of olive-based supplements.

Source: Daily Sabah

https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/turkish-syrian-women-join-forces-for-olive-production/news

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Will quota seats in Iraqi politics advance women's rights?

Mohammad Salami

27 October, 2021

“Women set a historic record in the election,” Iraqi officials announced in a statement after the 10 October parliamentary vote.

Ninety-seven female candidates were elected to the 329-seat chamber, forming 29.4 percent of the next Iraqi parliament. This was 14 more seats than the quota for female MPs, set by Iraq’s election laws at 83, or 25 percent of the total.

Such was the support for female candidates that 57 MPs will enter the next parliament based solely on their votes rather than the allocated quota system.

However, they will inevitably encounter problems in Iraq’s political arena.

Public support for female candidates

Iraq’s electoral system has provided more space for female participation in politics, particularly in comparison to other parliaments in the Arab world, and even the global average.

Women currently make up 29.4 percent of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, in comparison to 27.4 percent of the US House of Representatives, 12 percent in Jordan’s parliament, 28 percent in Israel, and 23 percent in Morocco.

According to the data collected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the level of women’s representation in Iraq's parliament is also higher than the world average of 24.5 percent. These figures indicate that the future of democracy in Iraq could be hopeful, and progressive.

The economic crisis, pervasive corruption, and the government's inability to provide public services to Iraqi citizens led to the October revolution in 2019, one of the largest civil society mobilisations in Iraq’s modern history.

To a degree, Iraqi female candidates were less associated with pervasive financial corruption and were able to gain the public’s trust by explicitly campaigning against systemic abuses and talking directly to voters.

“Like in many countries in the Middle East, women in Iraq have become politically active, despite the violence against them. Iraqi women were active in the Tishreen protests, and the new parties which emerged from the protest movement,” Geneive Abdo, a visiting fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told The New Arab.

“The young men in the protest movement work well with women and believe they have much to offer. Because the movement is secular-oriented, there are few obstacles to female political participation that otherwise might be caused by conservative Islamic interpretations.”

Political challenges for women

Although female candidates enjoyed widespread public support in the 10 October elections, deep-rooted challenges remain. “Iraqi women have proven to be energetic, fearless, and engaged in reforming laws that would give women more rights, especially as it concerns personal status laws,” said Geneive Abdo.

But, she added, “women no doubt will face gender bias in general and intimidation specifically by the MPs affiliated with the Iranian-backed militias”.

Some of the problems facing Iraqi society such as domestic violence, discrimination in the workplace, a lack of professional opportunities, and the approval of pro-equality legislation are better understood by female MPs, who could lead the way in the protection of women’s rights in a patriarchal society.

But one problem facing female candidates is that once they enter parliament their status as independent representatives with a policy program is subsumed by the needs of their political party.

“The women's quota should be used to highlight the role of Iraqi women in parliamentary and political activities and be effective in promoting their role, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any women’s parliamentary activities to promote the status of women in political activities during the previous parliamentary terms. The presence of women is limited to completing parliamentary seats,” Shorugh al-Abayegi, a former member of the Iraqi Parliament told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab’s Arabic language sister site.

In addition, women are not in key government positions. Major ministries such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Oil and Interior ministries have no senior female ministers, even less so in key parliamentary portfolios such as the Defence and Security Committee.

Often, pervasive sexism in Iraqi society means that management and senior roles are considered better suited to men. “The women’s quota guarantees 25 percent of their presence in parliament, that must be preserved, but it should create competition above the fixed quota so that women who acquire more votes than men can run for parliament regardless of the quota,” al-Abayegi added.

Another problem for female representatives in Iraq is how the gender quotas themselves are used by Iraqi political parties. According to the law, 25 percent of the electoral quota is reserved for women, but political parties rarely add independent female candidates to their lists, or those advocating independent policies. This is to ensure candidates are completely obedient to the party's goals.

In some cases, especially where tribal loyalties are ingrained, women run in districts simply to fulfil the electoral requirements for political parties. As a result, of the 951 female candidates in the 10 October election, only 16.8 percent were independent.

Iraqi political parties have still not invested time or resources into empowering female politicians or developing their capacity in any real way. There are rare exceptions, such as in the Kurdistan region, where political organisations train female members for roles in government management, but there are also parties that use women as tokens of representation.

This involves exploiting their presence in parliament, robbing them of their agency, and denying them the freedom to make their own decisions on how they vote. In that sense, women often only serve as numbers to fill seats and as votes for the party line, with their chances for self-definition as politicians extremely low.

“[Iraq’s] women still suffer from many challenges in trying to enter the world of politics in general, and the elections in particular but despite these challenges, women must prove their existence, present their electoral program and defend it in front of the voters, and work hard to convince and attract them,” Ayat al Mudhaffar, the spokeswoman of the Victory Coalition in Iraq, said.

Dr Mohammad Salami holds a PhD in International Relations. He is a specialist in Middle Eastern policy, particularly in Syria, Iran, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf region. His areas of expertise include politics and governance, security, and counterterrorism.

Source: The New Arab

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/analysis/will-quota-seats-iraqi-politics-advance-womens-rights

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Unemployment among Egyptian women declines to 17.7%: planning minister to World Economic Forum directors

27 Oct 2021

CAIRO - 27 October 2021: Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said chaired on Tuesday in Paris the bilateral session with the Directorate of the World Economic Forum (WEF) presenting the "National Plan for the Development of the Egyptian Family" having the economic empowerment of women at its core.

On the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Egyptian women and the measures taken by the state to protect them; El-Said indicated that the rate of women's participation in the labor market recorded 13.8% in 2019, adding that Egypt has scored 0.449 on the United Nations Development Program's Gender Inequality Index (GII) during the same year.

El-Said explained that the female unemployment rate has decreased from 21.4% in 2018 to 17.7% in 2020, in spite of the effects of the pandemic, noting that the Egyptian state aims to improve the rate of women’s participation in the workforce to reach 23%. El-Said highlighted the Egyptian state's measures to protect women in the face of the Covid-19 challenge, noting that these measures included granting working women exceptional leave for pregnancy or female employees who take care of children 12 years old or younger.

El-Said pointed to the continuation of the "Executive Leadership for Women" training program offered by the National Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (NIGSD) - the training arm of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development - despite the pandemic conditions.

“A sustainable innovation lab was launched, which specifically targets the economic empowerment of women and people with special needs, in 2021, in addition to developing a joint action plan between the Ministry of Interior, the National Council for Women (NCW), and the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood to address domestic violence against women and children during the pandemic,” El-Said explained.

El-Said referred to the Egyptian government’s efforts in the field of gender equality, where she explained that the state had taken some important institutional steps to empower women economically, including reviving the process of the World Bank’s Gender Equality Model and localizing it in the Egyptian context through the Egyptian Gender Equality Seal (EGES) certification process.

El-Said explained that companies and commercial entities can apply for this certificate. “Two companies from the private sector have been accredited,” El-Said added.

El-Said said that Egypt is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to launch the model for closing the gender gap at the World Economic Forum (WEF), noting that it focuses on a partnership between the public and private sectors to enhance the economic empowerment of women.

El-Said continued that among the Egyptian government’s efforts in the field of gender equality is the investment law (Law No. 17/2017, Article 2) dedicated to ensuring equal investment opportunities for both men and women, and the inheritance law (Law No. 219/2017) has been amended to impose more penalties on the one who withholds the inheritance from the one who has the right to this inheritance.

Concerning promoting women's financial inclusion; The Minister of Planning and Economic Development emphasized that another pillar through which the Egyptian government addresses gender equality is economic empowerment through financial inclusion, as the proportion of women with bank accounts nearly doubled to 27% in 2019, up from only 14% in 2014.

In 2020, Egyptian women obtained 51% of the total loans directed to micro-enterprises, with a default rate of not more than 1%. Moreover, microfinance balances destined for women increased during 2020 to constitute 62% of the total number of beneficiaries of microfinance programs.

The minister added that the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) introduced some regulatory reforms to complement the government's initiatives towards enhancing financial inclusion for women. These include issuing guidelines for banks to collect and report sex-disaggregated data to track progress in women's financial inclusion, standardizing the definition of women-owned businesses, and issuing new regulations for mobile banking.

On the financial savings plans established and supported by the government, the Minister of Planning indicated that village savings and loan associations are being implemented, allowing women to save, develop their financial capital, and start their small projects. These associations target 500,000 women in various governorates.

El-Said indicated that the total amount provided by Nasser Bank to finance new small businesses amounted to LE346 million, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 71,431 during 19/2020.

The bank also provided a total amount of LE 278.4 million as soft loans to 32,386 people, including a “Hidden Loans Program” with a total amount of LE 31.2 million, and the number of 1,713 beneficiaries during 2019/2020.

During her speech, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development referred to partnerships for gender equality; She explained that the Egyptian government is working alongside national and international development partners to promote gender equality, and this work includes joining the Equal Pay International Coalition.

El-Said said that the digital gap is not between countries, but within each country as well, noting that there is a digital gap between males and females, as 61.5% of males between the ages of 15 and 74 use the Internet, as for females, these percentages decrease.

This digital divide also exacerbates equitable financial inclusion and equal access to ICT-based financial services.

According to the Network Readiness Index issued by the World Economic Forum (NRI), Egypt ranked 115 out of 134 countries in the sub-index on the “social and economic gap in the use of digital payments” in 2020.

Source: Egypt Today

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/3/109272/Unemployment-among-Egyptian-women-declines-to-17-7-planning-minister

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