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Monday, July 06, 2009

On the Way to Improved Legal Reality. Strategies and Instruments Used to Tackle Discrimination Against Women in the Arab World

'What interventions are needed to improve the legal position of women, especially in Muslim societies, so that women's rights exist not only on paper but are realised in practice? Drawing on interviews conducted in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan in early 2008 with affected individuals, activists and people involved in development projects, this report proposes three key areas of action: formal legal reforms, improving women's access to their rights, and working closely with traditional and religious authorities to spread knowledge about existing laws. It presents case studies of interventions taking place in relation to these three areas, including an example of how the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) lobbied for gender equality in nationality law in Egypt, a study of a national coalition against underage marriage in Jordan, and an example of how cooperation with male and female Islamic preachers in Yemen was successful in raising awareness of existing laws to protect women's rights. A central factor in the success of all the projects presented was the combination of lobbying with training measures and action research. Documentaries and public hearings at which affected women could tell their own stories proved to be particularly effective in lobbying and advocacy. Projects with judges (male and if possible also female), with employees of the judiciary and with the police force were also found to bring about positive changes.'

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