Arab parliaments urged to reserve seats for women

Gulf News
Seats should be reserved for women in Arab parliaments so that they can play a greater role in the political sphere, delegates at a conference said.
The move will also help Arab societies accept women as decision makers and facilitate their struggle to acquire political rights, they said.
The proposal was made by Shukoor Al Gammari, member of the State Council of Oman, and other women delegates during a two-day symposium on The Parliamentary Performance of Arab Women, which ended yesterday at the UAE General Women's Union.

Shukoor said the meeting ended with a proposal to educate Arab women on their individual, political and civil rights and prepare them to pursue political careers in parliaments and representative bodies of their country.

She said: "Arab societies should be made aware of the importance of having women as decision makers and members of representative bodies. But our societies will not change their attitude towards the issue if governments do not intervene.

"Governments should set aside a quota of seats at parliaments to make women's participation compulsory. This will marginalise those who oppose women's participation. It will help women raise their voice." Shukoor said Arab women need role models in politics because then more women will enter the political field.

The symposium, which was organised by the union in cooperation with the Cairo-based Arab Centre for Development and Futuristic Research, aimed to analyse the reasons behind the absence of women in UAE and other Gulf countries' parliaments.

Aneesa Fakhro, a Bahraini writer and leading political figure in her country, said delegates are relying on the support of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Wife of President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Chairperson of the UAE General Women's Union, to deliver their message to the higher authorities in the UAE.

She said the meeting called for the UAE and the Gulf governments to support the participation of women in decision making by allowing them to enter parliament.

"It is a key issue not only for women, but also for society. Everyone will benefit if women air their views about individual, family and community issues. Women's grievances are those of their family, of their children and the society they live in, and we cannot afford them to be excluded from contributing to the growth of our countries."

Suggestions to Gulf governments

* Reserve seats for women in parliaments as a temporary approach to facilitate their participation in politics

* Improve election laws by amending or removing measures that discriminate against women

* Delete from curriculum material that distort the image of women

* Promote curriculum that presents women as equal partners to men

* Activate the role of women's unions and encourage coordination

* Organise workshops to bring out women's cadres.