Arab states: Plan to Increase Judges' Education on Women's Rights

Gulf Daily News

Plans are underway to educate more Bahraini and Arab judges on women's social and humanitarian rights.

Arab Women Organisation (AWO) director-general Dr Wadooda Badran said efforts were being made to bridge the gap between realising women's rights and enforcing them in the Arab world.

They include amending legislation, conducting awareness campaigns, sponsoring studies, speaking to young students and possibly setting up a women's studies research centre in the region.

Over the last 20 years more rational and liberal judges have come to power, but the judiciary system still needs more reforms to change the mindset of the older generation, added Dr Badran.

"Women in general today don't fight for basic rights as it is a chapter that has been long closed and the Arab world has reached an advanced stage in women's rights that has given women their rightful place amongst the society," she explained.

"On the contrary, even with the emergence of more rational judges that believe in righteousness, women's real powers were being undermined with numerous legislations.

"There is a gap between what's practised and proper rights that women have and it is because systems have not been yet updated to match the ongoing change."

Dr Badran was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Second Women's Humanitarian Rights Conference yesterday at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa, organised by Supreme Council for Women (SCW) in co-ordination with the AWO.

The two-day event, under the theme Bright Turning Points In Arab Court Verdicts, aimed to highlight the progress of women's rights in courts and recent judgements issued in their favour.

"There are 427 landmark court verdicts, including 36 in Bahrain, that have helped resurface women's rights in courts over the last 20 years," added Dr Badran.


"It is a network that all Arab women benefit from, so whenever a judge issues something in favour of one woman in any Arab country, then it means that the problem of another in court somewhere else would be solved.

"We are awaiting more landmark verdicts as more aware judges take charge and from what I see there is a shift towards more fairness to women. It will take time, maybe 15 to 20 years, but it will come."

However, Arab Litigation Empowerment Project director and Lebanese women's rights activist Dr Laila Jumhoori said more needed to be done, including spreading awareness of the landmark cases across the Arab world. "We need to spread awareness on these bright examples across the Arab world, prepare studies on Arab women's failure to get their rights in court, raise women's awareness about their rights, teach students in schools about women's rights, bridge the gap between actual rights and implementation, amend legislation to make it in line with actual practice and start a women's studies research centre," she explained. "There is a need for the rise of women leaders and education of women on international rights and practices. New plans to get more rights have to be drawn up and introduced and the judiciary should be more independent and mete out real punishments to women's rights violators rather than treat them leniently." She said the majority of women-related cases were connected to family laws. "A total of 51.7pc of the cases are related to family laws, while 48.3pc include others," she said. "Family cases are related to women in all of their life phases, but mostly they are concerned with married women. "We have 40pc married women with court cases, 11.6pc mothers, 27.5pc divorcees, 2.8pc widows, 8.5pc single women and 4.2pc undetermined."