OIC Reviews Women’s Status and Challenges

The conferees reviewed and discussed four important resolutions concerning women’s empowerment and their role in the development of OIC member states
Ministers and high-ranking officials from 56 OIC member states attended the conference to discuss women’s role in development.Ministers and high-ranking officials from 56 OIC member states attended the conference to discuss women’s role in development.

The government is pursuing an integrated policy for women’s empowerment underpinned by legal, institutional, and administrative measures, said Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi.

Addressing the 6th Session of the Ministerial Conference on the Role of Women in the Development of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Member States in Istanbul November 1-3, she said, “As religion and culture in Iran emphasizes gender equity, the country has prioritized women’s empowerment in its national development agendas.”

The theme of the conference was ‘The Status of Women in the OIC Member States in Light of Current Challenges.’

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his welcome address, affirmed that Turkey  will make best use of its chairmanship of the 13th session of the Islamic Summit held in April in Istanbul, by giving due attention to the status of women in the OIC states. He called for the enforcement of resolutions related to women.

Reiterating the need for a sound evaluation of the status of women in the member states, he said better opportunities should be provided for the participation of women in the development of Muslim nations.

Ministers and high-ranking officials from 56 OIC member states attended the conference to discuss women’s role in the development of member states. They reviewed and discussed four important resolutions concerning women’s empowerment and their role in the development of OIC member states, the existing challenges and obstacles to the achievement of the OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW).

Ministers also discussed expediting the ratification of the Organization of Women’s Development Statute and appointing an OIC goodwill ambassador to maintain and promote family values and empower women.

OPAAW, adopted in 2008, calls upon member states to take action to improve the state of women in education, health, political participation, economic sustainability, social justice and wellbeing and work-life balance.

 Preparing the Groundwork

“A remarkable growth in the female education index, reaching gender equality in primary education, and girls surpassing boys in university enrollment by a rate of 57% are laying the groundwork in Iran for women’s larger participation in political, economic, cultural, and social spheres in the future,” Molaverdi told the Istanbul gathering.

Taking stock of the advancement in areas relating to women in Iran, she underlined that progress has been made in spite of the numerous challenges.

She referred to the noteworthy improvement in women’s health and hygiene (such as reducing maternal mortality rate), special focus on supporting and empowering female-headed households as well as vulnerable women, empowerment projects for rural women and girls and two-fold increase in female lawmakers in the 10th parliament.

Adding to the list, she talked about the 3.5 times growth in non-governmental organizations active in women’s issues, policies to assist women maintain work-life balance such as extended maternity leave and shorter working hours in special circumstances, and holding vocational and technical courses to empower female breadwinners.

“Women of my country have faced war, oppressive sanctions and its ensuing economic pressures, as well as attacks in sections of the media. Despite this, Iranian women have managed to move forward,” she stressed.

 Security Before Development

Referring to the conflict and chaos in the Middle East, she said, “Women in the world, including in Syria, Yemen, and Palestine, are exposed to the worst forms of violence, facing death, disability, hunger, destitution, lack of education, and poverty.”

“It saddens me to say that as the international community works towards reaching the targets of ‘the Future We Want’ document, women and their families in conflict zones are struggling with challenges that will continue to leave a mark on them for generations to come. In such circumstances, there apparently is little room to discuss sustainable development and empowerment of women.”

‘The Future We Want’ document is the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20–22, 2012, whereby member states renewed their commitment to sustainable development and to ensuring the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for the planet and for present and future generations.

The vice president recalled Resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council on women and peace and security which reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building and peacekeeping and humanitarian response as well as in post-conflict reconstruction.

“On behalf of my country and in light of the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) resolution proposed by President Hassan Rouhani at the 68th General Assembly in 2013 and adopted by the UN member states, I urge women affairs ministers of OIC states to each define a national mission to help end conflicts and work for peace in their region.”

She called on all OIC nations to adopt a framework of action which would help realize gender equity through laws that create a situation conducive for the comprehensive participation of men and women in all areas of national development.

The conferees referred to the obligations of member states as stated in the final communiqué of the April summit in the area of promoting women’s advancement and empowerment.

A special session was devoted to review a proposal by Turkey on the establishment of a supreme advisory council for women.

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