Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization, will hold its 3rd international conference next week to highlight the struggle that faces young girls and women across the world.
“We are thrilled that the Women Deliver conference will host more representatives from the Middle East – from health care providers to policymakers to activists – than ever before,” President of Women Deliver Jill Sheffield told Al Arabiya English. “Their active participation will help highlight the great progress that has been made for and by the girls and women of the region. But we must continue to work together to overcome remaining barriers to achieving true gender equality in the region, and around the world.”
It is an issue that is constantly in the spotlight in the Middle East and Asia region, whether it be Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for pursuing gender equality in education, or the rise of social media campaigns to encourage women’s rights, such as the “Uprising of Women in the Arab World” push on Facebook.
The page demands change and equality for women in the region; “women’s rights are equal to that of human rights, and human rights violations are not something to be silenced about,” one of the founders, Diala Haidar, told Al Arabiya English.
Its rising popularity highlights the need for a coordinated approach to ensuring equality, both in the Arab region, and internationally.
Lynn ElHarake, a consultant at Women Deliver, said: “Organizing this Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Consultation has been a truly phenomenal experience.”
“We are confident that this meeting's outcomes will help ensure that the girls and women of the MENA region are at the forefront of development agendas - regional, global, and everything in between.”
The U.N. demands
On Tuesday, a group of U.N. human rights experts called for the post-2015 development agenda to be “urgently” altered to focus on equality, social protection and accountability.
“The rise of inequality has severely undermined the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals,” they said in a released statement.
Women Deliver’s conference will take place just days after the closing ceremony of another international forum on the same topic.
The fifty-seventh session of the “Commission on the Status of Women” (CSW) took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 4-15, 2013.
This year’s priority theme was the “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls,” according to the U.N.’s official website.
The conference, attended member states, ended with an agreement on the root cause of gender equality.
“The Commission affirms that violence against women and girls is rooted in historical and structural inequality in power relations between women and men, and persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of the enjoyment of human rights,” stated a draft document, submitted by the Chair of the Commission, Ms. Marjon V. Kamara.
CSW was established in 1946 and has been holding international meetings on the topic of women’s rights since 1975.
Gender equality is a hot topic around the world, from seeking female representation in corporation boardrooms in the Western world, to increasing education for women in third world countries.
However, there are certain global hot spots.
“Despite the ample evidence that ensuring the wellbeing of girls and women spurs development, gender equality indicators in many majority-Muslim countries are some of the worst in the world,” Dr. Gamal Serour, Director of the International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research at Cairo’s al-Azhar University, wrote in a recent article for Al Arabiya.
The Women Deliver conference will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from May 29 – 30. This is the first time the organization will host such a forum in a majority-Muslim country.
According to the rights group, the aim of the conference is to ensure that the health and rights of girls and women continue to remain a top priority now, and for decades to come.