CSW61 Week 1: Work, Islam, and Political Representation

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    Submitted by Serap Maktav

    13 March 2017:
    Afternoon session on Gender Pay Gaps in Public and Private Sectors: How can pay for equal work of equal value be achieved in the changing world of work. The Ministers of Belgium, Jordan, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Tunisia, Peru, Luxembourg, Morocco, Norway, Paraguay Brazil and Switzerland took the floor and there was an agreement among all the presenters that pay gap is a complex issue and causes women to have more poverty, less pension, etc. Belgium monitors the gap annually and takes corrective measures. Jordan cooperates with private sector partners for child care in support of working mothers. Dominican Republic working towards pre-post natal time off. France does not still have a law for equal pay. Peru has norms that are of equal opportunity (economic, social and political participation of women promoted since 2007); productive development (focus on states’ action for small, micro enterprises) and civil service (general rules for equal opportunities without discrimination). These three laws ensure equal pay, although there is still pay gaps. Luxembourg has a new law to be voted on that will charge a significant fine if equality is not adhered to. They also want to attend to remote work (home) not to be a trap for women. Morocco stressed the issue that it is not only in law but also mind set. Therefore, mindset and stereotypes have to be changed. Norway raised the point that education preference of girls and boys had to be changed. Traditional education preference leads girls not to choose technology education. Paraguay added the need to look at other themes including domestic work. Wage-gap is not only between women and men but how these wages are vested in the home. Domestic work equality and sharing in the house is important. The other main point of agreement was the higher pay gap practiced in the private sector.

    15 March 2017:
    Following the brief by UN Women President to the civil society, I attended the day-long interactive dialogues of ministers. In the morning the session centered on building alliances and partnerships between governments and other stakeholders (for gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 SDGs, especially goal 5 concerning gender equality). The afternoon session had a wide range of participants, including civil society groups, parliamentarians, journalists and the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women,discussing the challenges of implementing the somewhat detailed conclusions adopted each year by the Commission.
    (The day-long dialogues can be found in the UN Meetings Coverage and Press Releases of the UN Website. Therefore I would not want to rewrite these here. Please refer the members to that site, for those interested in finding out the details)

    During the lunch time, I attended a side event on “Role of Female Parliamentarians”.
    The Canadian Minister highlighted the fact that women were frequently forgotten when solutions are designed, while they are powerful agents in contributing to the solutions and their design. in the effort to have women’s voices heard, Canadian Parliament had 325 young women sit in Parliament and discuss these issues. As a result $650 million has been allocated for sexual health recently. So this is a new feminist approach by Canada. Similarly, bringing women together has helped collaboration among themselves and now Iraqi and Kurdish women are working together. The important initiative is to empower women to improve their community, which may not lead to immediate results but in the long-term it will be effective. Thus in order to achieve SDG’s by 2030, girls and women need to be empowered and boys and men need to be involved. UN Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Director stated that UNDP gives this area high importance. They are working with 70 country offices to strengthen Parliamentary programmes, systematize civic engagement and capactiate parliamentarians for the 2030 agenda achievement. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women are working together to strengthen these. Today’s development does not show the need to decrease military budget and increase peace budget. Regarding how these have been taken on board by countries:
    *Lithuania: Female politicians can contribute. Women’s involvement, national action plans, civil societies are all important. Parliamentarians should visit the local implementation efforts. In international forums, involvement of parliamentarians for networking and ideas to implement at parliamentary level.
    *Kenya: women and children are impacted by war but are least involved. Their views and ideas are not valued. Actions need to be prioritized. Laws are needed by parliament and for governmental action. Need to involve women to establish peace. There should be the oversight function of Parliament, as well as legislative.
    *Tunisia: Has a long history, with its first constitution in 1860’s. Focus on education and emancipation of women at the start of 1900’s. The most recent constitution of 2014, although not too bad, needs a few laws to be changed. Life, livelihoods have become more and more Islamist, while there were no women wearing hijabs in the 50’s, during the 1980’s 8 out of 10 women are wearing it. Parity law was enacted in 2011, with 51% women in parliament. However, majority of these women parliamentarians are from the Islamist party.
    *Iran: Countries are affected by conflict while people need peace. While reaching out to other civil societies, governments and other partners, parliamentarians were left out. Responsibility sharing more than power sharing can be achieved with the participation of Parliamentarians. Budget is very important and parliamentarians can play an important role in appropriate allocation of funds.

    Points raised:
    – Inter-tribal wars in Africa: how to end them with support from parliamentarians
    – North Korea issues: an action plan needed for all the neighboring countries (Japan, South Korea, ..)
    -Power being associated with men has been engraved, which needs to change
    – UN Women all over the world need to be supported by all civil society colleagues.
    – women need to sit at the table during discussions on national security.
    – The women’s caucuses should be used for peace-building, and UNDP can put this forward.

    16 March, 2017
    “Women empowerment in Islamic Countries, by Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC)”
    OIC has 57 member states. They also claim that religion plays a role on 1.6 billion people. With full participation of women in 2016 a meeting was held in Istanbul and a national plan of action was prepared (OPAL). It is committed to correcting misconception. Women have held elevated roles in the Islamic world. Health and education is at the core of traditions, beliefs and therefore need the role of religious leaders and religion to be protective.
    *Egypt Sec. Gen of Women: Topic needs to be discussed with those from the western world. Problem of terrorism made Islam seem far from human rights while it was the first one to be a feminist religion, which set the stage for human rights and family. Islam gives women a lot of rights, freedom and independence. Therefore women did not fight for them, they were given. However, tradition and customs, being stronger, has been taking these rights away from women. The Nisa Surah, specifically for women, while Qoran does not have a chapter on/for men. In his farewell Mohammed proposes the need to care for women. Women in the Muslim world today are having discussions with religious leaders and making decisions.
    *Morocco: How religion can move women agenda- religious leaders have a crucial role in implementing this.They have means for relating concrete ideas and messages, like communicating them at the Friday prayers. There are however some extremist groups who put their hands in these issues. The important point is the crucial role religious leaders can play. Important to recall the time of Mohammed and his wife, who was a merchant, and although in the past, permission to work from the husband was needed, a new law has changed that. Religious scholars and leaders underlie the importance of education and empowerment/freedom of women, which is picking up recently. Worldwide scholars have freed themselves from the closed world and through philosophy and other activities of history, there are activists talking about the rights. Relationship between ideology and philosophy led to a new kind of surface scholars, with the empowerment of women having a negative impact.
    *Indonesia Minister: OIC has serious action in empowerment of women. The Ministry of Religious Affairs have large number of Muslims and other religions. Development of law impacted the diversity of religious practices and implementations. Challenges of empowering women is impacted by the interpretation of religion. Harmony is needed between rights, democracy and religion.
    *Islamic Relief in US, Enver Khan: The imams throughout the world are to be seen as the solution, not the problem. Traditional practices are confused with Islam and now the imams have to go back to the book and correct this. However, this then leads to a backlash from people. Therefore they need support, in addition to training. Funding for all this is another issue. Women religious leaders have an effect on imams, changing the misconceptions.
    *UN Women: How religion can advance empowerment of women is an issue to be regarded not only in Islam but in all religions and faiths. Launch of a platform bringing all religious experts and actors into a network: Gender-equality and religion to look at goals in 2030 agenda. Knowledge and resources to be exchanged at this platform, look at the last lessons for replication elsewhere. How can women also work in these areas to contribute to change.
    Using Islam as a source for empowerment is good but to what extent are all aware of the happenings at the grassroots and individual levels. International Organisation on Islam is now implementing “imams for she” in Burundi.

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