Despite the progress accomplished by international bodies in defending and promoting women’s fundamental rights, these rights are still not respected all over the world. Within the Euro-Mediterranean region, the environment – social, political, legal, administrative, economic and cultural – is characterised by deeply entrenched inequality between men and women.
Regardless of improvements made since the 1970s, particularly with respect to women’s literacy levels in the Middle East and North Africa, these gains have not yet resulted in an increase of their public participation. Due to discriminatory laws and policies that still affect the civil, political and economic rights of women, their participation in public life, including in the labor market and in political and parliamentary life remains among the lowest in the world.
Moreover, violence rates against women and the climate of impunity for such violence remain alarming. And although we often think about Europe as a champion of women’s rights, important obstacles and challenges to equality still hinder the path of European women towards equality.
As one of the few platforms in the Euro-Med region, EuroMed Rights is bringing together on an equal footing both Northern and Southern women’s rights organisations in its Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Working Group (GWG).
Since 2004, the GWG works towards influencing regional governmental efforts to promote gender equality and the role of women in society. The GWG is also very active in the fight against violence and impunity for violence against women.
Since its establishment, the GWG has monitored the gender equality and women’s rights situation in the region through the publication of several reports and provided information to CSOs, policy makers and the media through national meetings, advocacy missions and public events.
Following the Arab uprisings, the GWG was an important forum to discuss women’s marginalisation in the transition processes and for strategising on how to counteract this development. At a meeting in Cairo in 2012, the participating organisations pointed to the increase in violence against women (VAW) in the region and subsequent impunity, as a key issue to address. A regional report was then produced and, in november 2013, a conference gathering 120 participants from all over the region called for more cooperation and solidarity to put an end to impunity for VAW crimes in the region.
In addition to its thematic work on gender equality and women’s rights in the region, the working group also functions as a knowledge and resource hub on gender mainstreaming for the entire network. Working languages of this Working Group are English and Arabic. The political referent to this Working Group is Nabia Haddouche.