Meral Hussein-Ece: Arab Spring has not improved all women’s lives

This afternoon Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece will lead a debate in the House of Lords on the situation of women in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. As she writes here, rather than improving, many feel their lives have actually got worse

Baroness Hussein-Ece
Baroness Hussein-Ece

Women make up half of the Middle East’s population. It is therefore important that any democratic developments must improve the social and legal status of women in the Arab world.

If the Middle East and North Africa region is to achieve political and economic development, there is an urgent need for women to be part and parcel of that process. As such, they must be treated as full citizens with full and equal rights to their male counterparts.

So when we reflect on what the Arab Spring did for women, it would be impossible to provide a full analysis of its effect on the lives of women, primarily because in many instances the Arab Spring – or Autumn, as dubbed by some – continues in varied forms as the countries continue constantly to adjust to new rules of law and governance, and uncertainty.

For the first time in recent Middle Eastern history, women played a crucial role in defining their countries’ futures.

It gave women a platform for their voices to be heard, and their stories to be shared. But the news is not promising. Many women, despite the crucial role they played in removing dictators, feel their lives and rights have deteriorated.

There is the urgent need for peaceful political intervention and international commitment in Syria, in order to avoid further violence. The international community and Syrians alike have a moral and urgent obligation to seek peace. In Syria today, this means political negotiation and compromise. Furthermore, Syrian women must be at that negotiating table for any compromise to have value and meaning.

Rebeca Grynspan, the UN undersecretary general and associate administer of the UN Development Program, has said: “The character of this century will be determined by our ability to walk towards gender equality. All studies not only suggest that if you tackle gender equality, you empower women, but also you will be much more effective in fighting poverty and hunger.”

The measurement of democratic success is weighed in the treatment of women, their advancement in politics, media and social spaces and the ways in which women’s issues are defined and responded to.

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

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