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NHRIs develop plans to tackle gender-based challenges

Graphic: Two participants at the roundtable discussion on the rights of women and girls

The APF is supporting national human rights institutions in West Asia to tackle issues that place women at risk of violence, discrimination and abuse.

Strengthening measures to protect women and girls against violence must be an important priority for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in West Asia, according to participants at a recent APF workshop in Amman.

Representatives from the NHRIs of Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Palestine and Qatar told the two-day roundtable discussion that women and girls can face violence in situations of conflict, in refugee camps and in the home.

But while some countries in the region now have laws in relation to domestic violence, there is a lack of services to provide support for victims. The laws also fail to make domestic violence a criminal offence.

Other issues raised during the workshop, held on 5-6 February 2018, included:

  • The many legal rights denied to women in the region, including passing on nationality to children, equal rights in marriage, and the right to political participation.
  • Limited access to information on reproductive rights and little autonomy for women to make decisions about when they want to start a family or the number and spacing of their children
  • Challenges women face to secure their economic independence, including a lack opportunities for employment or being denied employment opportunities.

Graphic: Participants contribute to the workshop discussions

The workshop encouraged NHRIs to consider practical projects they could establish, or the strategic partnerships they could build, to counter the discrimination and human rights violations that women and girls face.

Some of the proposals discussed in the workshop included:

  • Collaborating with civil society organisations, including through training programs, to draw attention to the issue of gender-based violence and to develop country-specific responses
  • Engaging with women in refugee camps to help counter radicalisation and extremism
  • Working with women in poor, rural areas to identify the barriers and opportunities for economic development
  • Responding to situations where women are incarcerated for being unable to pay small fines
  • Advocating for changes in laws and regulations that discriminate against women and girls.

Following the workshop, participating NHRIs will be invited to finalise their project proposals. The APF will provide a grant of AUD 5,000, on a competitive basis, to two proposals.

The workshop was facilitated by Randa Siniora, General Director of the Palestinian Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling and former Executive Director of the Palestine Independent Commission for Human Rights, and Associate Professor Chris Sidoti, APF NHRI Expert Consultant.

The Jordan National Centre for Human Rights generously hosted the workshop, which was organised by the APF secretariat with the support of APF West Asian sub-regional office.

Date: 9 February 2018

Image credits

  1. Two participants at the roundtable discussion on the rights of women and girls - APF/Fasoha Aishath
  2. Participants contribute to the workshop discussions - APF/Fasoha Aishath