The Middle East
Equality Without Reservation
KVINFO supports the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as a part of the focus area Legal Change. More specifically, support is given to efforts in the Middle East and North Africa to lift specific reservations to the convention. A campaign headed by a regional network calls for - equality without reservation.
The CEDAW convention has been signed by 17 Arab States. However, most of these have ratified the convention with a number of very significant reservations or opt-outs regarding all articles dealing with nationality issues and equality articles that are deemed by these states to contradict Islamic law.The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is an expert body comprising 23 women's issues experts from around the world. The Committee monitors the progress of women made in those countries that have ratified CEDAW. Every four years each state submits a national report which is reviewed by the Committee. NGOs are welcome to submit country-specific information (so-called CEDAW shadow reports) to ensure that the committee is as well informed as possible.
Ratification of CEDAW
In itself, the ratification of CEDAW does not ensure the end of all discrimination against women. It is an instrument that will only be effective if an enabling environment exists at national and local levels, and it is therefore necessary to follow up with appropriate laws and policies. Denmark ratified CEDAW in 1983, but it has yet to be integrated in Danish national law.
The Equality without Reservation coalition is lead by a number of civil society organisations representing most countries in the region. They have joined in a regional campaign working for the lifting of all reservations made by Arab states to the CEDAW convention. The ‘Equality without Reservation’ campaign is the outcome of a regional conference held in Rabat, Morocco, in June 2006 that also led to the adoption of two principal documents: ‘Strategy of the Regional Campaign’ and The Rabat call for ‘Equality without Reservation’. The campaign has shown good results and several countries represented in the network have declared that they will remove or reduce their reservations to CEDAW.
Advocacy, networking and training
The Equality without Reservation coalition is leading an advocacy campaign among political and legislative decision-makers in all Arab countries, as well as to regional institutions concerned by the issue. It is seeking support from civil society actors and works towards strengthening relationships and networks with the human rights and women’s right movements at national, regional and international levels.The network has launched an information campaign at regional level and has recently engaged in organising training activities for member organisations.
The network steering group includes representatives from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Bahrain and the network is currently being coordinated by New Woman Foundation and supported by KVINFO, as well as other international donors.
For more info about this project
Tlf: 50 76 33 54
Nordic-Arab Network of Research on Women’s Empowerment, Gender and Politics (WEP)
The aim of this network is to provide young Arab and Nordic scholars in the field of gender and politics with the opportunity to establish intra-regional as well as cross-regional contacts with other PhD students and seniors in the same field and to provide additional academic supervising.
The network covers the following areas of studies and research:
Women’s political empowerment (political representation, social move-ments)
Policy changes and gendered rights (civil, political and social citizen-ship and violence against women)
Labour market (gender segregation, equal pay, unemployment)
Migration (including migrating care workers)
Media, communication and cultural debates
The purpose of the network is three-fold:
To contribute to the development of research in the field of women in political life.
To facilitate the exchange of theories, methodological approaches and empirical findings between young Arab and Nordic scholars.
To facilitate contacts between senior and junior researchers in the field. Thus, the network will be of vital help to young scholars who are looking for international research contacts and who are in want of add-itional external supervision capacity.
Activities and Resources
The network will assist young scholars with establishing new research contacts and will provide additional academic supervising opportun-ities by Arab and Nordic senior researchers.
Two PhD seminars (one in Denmark, 1-3 November 2010 and one in Fez, Morocco 30 September - 2 Oct 2011) for Master, PhD, and postdoc students from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Nordic countries.
An online forum for network members on KVINFO’s three-language (Arab, English, Danish) website: http://www.womendialogue.org
Four scholarships (2010-2011) will be available for Arab PhD students wishing to study one semester at Aalborg University in Denmark.
The working language of the network is English.
How to Join
Master Students, PhD Students and Postdoc Scholars: Everybody within the target group may join the network. The network is primarily aimed at PhD students but Master students and Postdoc scholars are also invited to join the network.
Senior Researchers: Please feel free to join the network, if you are a senior researcher willing to share your experience with and provide feedback to young scholars.
History tells us that research on women in political decisionmaking has been and still is vital for national and transnational NGOs and for public agencies working to enhance women’s position and influence in political life. One central issue is how to change the general under-representation of women in political decision-making which still exist the Arab and Nor¬dic countries.
Understanding the mechanism of exclusion and inclusion has been an important factor behind the high level of women’s representation in the Nordic countries, with an average of 42 % women in Nordic parliaments today. A second central issue is the possibilities of changing the political agenda and making public policies more gender-sensitive. A third central issue is the ideas, strat-egies and effects of the women’s movements and the potential of transnational cooperation. Improvement in women’s political representation and new policy reforms has often been initiated by women’s or¬ganizations. Within all three fields, intra-Arab and intra-Nordic diffusion of best practices is important, as is the exchange of ideas and experiences between the Arab countries and the Nordic countries.
The network steering committee consists of representatives from the Arab and Nordic countries and the members are responsible for the scientific coordination and quality assurance of the network activities.
For more info about this project
Tlf: 50 76 33 54
It is hardly a secret that men dominate the public sphere in most parts of the world, also in the Arab world. The past generation, however, women have gained ground as their access to education and jobs has grown. This accumulated talent, however, is not reflected in for instance media exposure and business leadership.
In Denmark, before a person can be divorced he or she must undergo a period of legal separation.This legal separation is a form of trial period during which the husband and wife live apart. In accordance with Danish law, a spouse who does not believe that it is possible for him or herself to continue the marital union has the right to instigate legal separation.No given reason is required by law other than that the individual does not feel capable of continuing in the marriage. Firstly, the parties are legally separated and, if both spouses agree to divorce, they may be legally divorced after 6 months of separation.Should one party not agree to the divorce, a spouse can become legally divorced following a period of 12 months separation. In cases involving infidelity or violence within a marriage, divorce can be granted immediately – providing that the violence has been reported to the police or that medical reports can substantiate the fact that a person is the victim of violence. In infidelity cases, a statement from the third party stating that they have been involved with the relevant spouse, is required.
Although the story was fictional, the situation is a real one for many Danish women. Each year more than 2,000 women victims of violence stay at a shelter. If they knock on the door of one of Denmark’s biggest shelters, Danner in Copenhagen, they can get help right there and then and over a longer period, tells Danner Managing Director Vibe Klarup Voetmann:
No difference between the national and international struggle for women’s rights
“I’m here to celebrate International Women’s Day because, when it comes to the fight for women’s rights, I don’t differentiate between the fight at national and international level.” So explained the gray-haired Nawal Al-Saadawi determinedly to Women Dialogue when I met her in Copenh
Women’s Political Participation in Jordan
The bilateral Danish-Jordanian project ‘Women’s Political Participation in Jordan’ supports Jordanian women council members and is designed to strengthen their capacities to respond to the needs of their constituencies. The project is a cooperation between KVINFO, Danish Women’s Council and several Jordanian partners incl. ZENID and Jordanian Women’s Union. The aim of the project is to increase women’s participation in local and national politics and to heighten the political awareness of women of all ages.
Women’s participation in national and local politics
Jordan has seen important achievements regarding women’s rights over the last decade and the national as well as municipal elections in 2007 increased the focus on women’s political participation. A quota of 20% for women was introduced before the Jordanian municipal elections in 2007, which raised new debates. In the summer of 2011 an amendment of the municipalities law raised the quota to 25 %. Although more women participate in politics since the quotas have been introduced a great need remains for supporting and encouraging in order to ensure that women not only participate but also contribute substantially to political processes.
Support of women candidates
A parliamentary election took place on November 9th, 2010. At that occasion, women took 13 out of 120 seats of the Parliament's lower house, 12 out of whom via a women's quota established in May 2010. Before then the quota for the parliament comprised only 6 women. However, King Abdullah dissolved the newly elected parliament by late January 2011 and replaced its cabinet. The cabinet is at present appointed by the king - a procedure that is, due to King Abdullah's pledge - now to be abolished. In the new government were appointed to women ministers. The Senate of 60 members in total now hold 9 women, and in the Parliament still 13 seats out of 120 are occupied by women. The project supports women candidates and activities to raise the voter turnout as well as and activities promoting amendments to the current electoral laws. Among the activities are training of women candidates and national meetings aimed at mobilizing support to women candidates. The project in general supports activities related to all types of elections taking place within the project period.
A fund to support minor organizations
As part of the project Women's Political Participation in Jordan the Women's Political Participation Fund supports minor organizations and initiatives in areas outside Amman in their work to strengthen women's political participation. The fund aims at augmenting the knowledge level for potential candidates as well as voters and citizens on the whole about the importance of gender-balanced political participation. The fund also supports training and edication of the actual players at the local or national political arena.
Danish-Jordanian joint partnership
On the Danish side KVINFO has already accumulated solid knowledge and experience relevant for this project through previous cooperation with several of the Jordanian partners. The Danish Women’s Council is responsible for the involvement of Danish women politicians and contributes with their experiences from former cooperation on political participation. The Jordanian partners, the Jordanian National Commission for Women, Jordanian Women’s Union and ZENID are all very experienced in their fields and are responsible for carrying out the project's activities in Jordan.
For more info about this project
Tlf: 50 76 33 77
“Fifteen years ago, you had to be a journalist, writer or member of some organisation before you could make your voice heard. Today, you can get your message out there through your blog,” tells American Jessica Valenti, founder of the site feministing.com.
Gender and Women’s Rights – Dialogue and Cooperation
This programme aims to strengthen the cooperation between civil society in Denmark and the Arab region, as well as to improve women’s rights and strengthen women’s active participation in society. The aim is also to encourage debate on gender issues – both in the Arab region and between Arab and Danish partners.
On this page you can find project groups and read more about the programme.
The regional programme on Gender and Women’s Rights is based on the cooperation between KVINFO and a number of Danish and Arab partners.
The programme was launched in July 2007 and includes activities with participation from most of the Arab region. It supports the development of long-term cooperation and twinning relationships between Danish and Arab organisations and institutions. Partners include women’s and human rights organisations, shelters for women victims of violence, documentation centres on gender issues and educational institutions including gender-study centres.
Working for women’s rights
The overall aim of the programme is to strengthen the cooperation between civil society in Denmark and the Arab region, as well as to improve women’s rights and strengthen women’s active participation in society. The programme also aims at encouraging and strengthening the debate on gender issues – both in the Arab region and between Arab and Danish partners.
Key focus areas
The activities of the regional programme are focusing on the following focal points:
- Legal Change
- Women in the Public Sphere
- Gender-based Violence
- Research, Documentation and Debate on Gender Issues
These key focus areas touch upon the main challenges of women in the Arab region. These are challenges that are often shared by women, both in Denmark and in other parts of the world. The choice of key focus areas was based on recommendations from Arab women activists and on the potential for establishing a fruitful exchange between Danish and Arab activists and professionals.
Exchange of knowledge
The regional programme includes and supports a large number of different activities. KVINFO works with partners in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine setting up national Who is She databases of women experts, The Danish National Observatory of Violence cooperates with several Arab organisations on the development of an Arab regional observatory against violence, Danish and Arab shelters are sharing their experiences and the Fund for Dialogue and Cooperation supports the joint efforts of other Danish and Arab NGOs.
Creating opportunities for debate
A very important aim of the regional programme is to create opportunities for debate – especially between those who do not meet very often. Public meetings, seminars and conferences facilitate face-to-face encounters and debates and the website Womendialogue. org promotes communication on the main themes of this programme.
For more info about this project
Tlf: 50 76 33 63
Mention the name Stephanie AlNaber and most Jordanians will smile with pride. This 22-year-old super talent is now working as a professional footballer in the prestigious Danish women’s club Fortuna Hjørring, though she has been dribbling with a football since taking her first steps as a child in Amman, Jordan.
“My work is dedicated to bringing about political, social and economic change for Arab women”, tells Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female film director. FORUM met her during the Dox Box 2009 documentary film festival in Damascus, at which her award-winning film Women without Shadows was screened.