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Arab Civil Society Declares Support to the Forward-looking Agenda of ICPD Beyond 2014

CAIRO, Egypt — “Arab women in partnership with men ought to break the silence and raise their voices against the injustices they face in order to achieve women’s empowerment, including women’s public participation in our region,” says Maha Eldir Ahmed, Program Coordinator with the Salmmah Women’s Resource Center in Sudan.

A few weeks prior to the 47th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) in New York on 7-10 April 2014, the Arab Women Coalition (AWC), the Arab Youth Coalition (AYC) and some media professionals gathered in Cairo. These key civil society representatives from across the Arab region met to discuss and analyze the issues and concerns of Arab women and youth.

The consultative meeting was organized by the Center of Arab Woman for Training and Research (CAWTAR).

The role of civil society in ICPD Beyond 2014

The UNFPA Arab States Regional Office (ASRO) attaches significance to the role of civil society, particularly given the current transition that many countries in the Arab region are going through. These transitions have brought about a set of emerging development issues, which need to be featured into the forward-looking agenda of ICPD Beyond 2014 and post-2015 development agenda.

“It is crucial to engage as many NGOs and youth in the forward-looking agenda of ICPD Beyond 2014 to ensure that their voices are captured at the global level. In my opinion, Arab Governments ought to commit to clear policies and ensure an enabling environment where especially youth can express their demands and raise their voices,” states Ahmed Awadallaa from the Y-PEER network.

The General Assembly Resolution 65/234 underscores the role of the civil society in the ICPD agenda beyond 2014 and the Arab Women Coalition has successfully managed to take this prescribed role into practice.

Collective efforts pave the way

“The collective efforts under the coalition will help galvanize support of Governments across the region to ensure the rights of women,” says Muiassar Alssac, the Director for the Family Development Organization in Jordan

The AWC is playing a vital role within the ongoing ICPD Beyond 2014 process in the Arab region. Apart from its advocacy efforts at the national level, the AWC mobilized Arab civil society in support of the inclusion of the principles of gender equality and women’s empowerment and rights including reproductive rights in the final declaration of the ICPD Regional Conference held in Cairo on 24-26 June 2013.

Towards a new era of equality in the Arab region

“I want equality between women and men, girls and boys in the Arab region,” says Sara Almalki, a Coordinator in Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

The civil society representatives echoed the agreements in the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 global development agenda as a stand-alone goal as well as to be mainstreamed across other goals.

“We need a positive shift in the patriarchal mindsets in our region to pave the way for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Arab Spring revolutions constituted a new era and they were vital steps towards the building of citizenship and the fulfillment of women’s rights and participation across the Arab societies,” adds Sabbar Khadija from the Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM).

The consultative meeting concluded with a common position elaborated in the Cairo Declaration of the Arab Civil Society Organizations underscoring the issues and priorities of the Arab region’s civil society in support of the forward-looking agenda of ICPD Beyond 2014 as well as the post-2015 development agenda.