Arab women take active role in promoting tolerance

Dr. Fadia Kiwan
Updated 05 February 2019
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Arab women take active role in promoting tolerance

  • The Arab world “as made a lot of efforts in the past decade, but there are still gaps that need to be addressed — Dr. Fadia Kiwan

DUBAI: Arab women will play an important role in the pursuit of tolerance in the region, as more of them find roles in the education sector, a senior official at the Organization of Arab Women (OAW) has said.

“Women and men are all together, having active roles toward the pursuit of tolerance,” Dr. Fadia Kiwan, Director General at OAW, told Arab News on the sidelines of the Global Conference of Human Fraternity on Sunday.

Kiwan underscored the prominent role of women in education — from guiding children through their formative years to being professional educators in schools, which she said is crucial in “teaching tolerance.”

“We see women in active roles in producing and transmitting values,” she said.

But women are not just taking the lead in education, according to Kiwan, who herself was an established professor of political science in Beirut.

“We have a moving situation in the Arab world,” Kiwan said, singling out Tunisia as a country that “is taking the lead in many different fields.”

“Other Arab countries are taking measures too. Most governments are making efforts toward creating policies that are women-friendly — such as nominating women to key government positions and allocating funds to address women’s issues,” she said, making special mention of the recent move by Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive.

Although the Arab world “has made a lot of efforts in the past decade,” Kiwan admitted that there are still some obvious gaps that need to be addressed.

“The results are not the same in each country. These discrepancies can be explained by the differences in terms of wealth and stability. Some Arab countries live in war,” she said, adding that the organization is currently prioritizing victims of regional conflicts.

“There are millions of people who are out of their homes because of wars. People who are displaced are our target, especially those in Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Palestine and Syria,” Kiwan said, mentioning the close cooperation with the Arab League in this endeavor. “Our target is to support them by giving medical services, psychological services and educational services, as well as economic training to help them to be ready to move back to their homes, and make them capable to take part in the reconstruction of their own countries,” Kiwan said.

“We have a program already set up to provide support to women in terms of revisiting legislations in different Arab countries to have the best modalities — rules and procedures, as well as mechanisms to provide physical and moral protection for women and girls.” 

“When you provide women education, protection by the law, and empowerment to enter the market, I think that women will play an active role in culture and public policy,” she said.


Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reacts next to policemen during a demonstration in solidarity with a HDP lawmaker on hunger strike in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

  • Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.
The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.
Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on Nov. 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.
She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.
Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, an AFP correspondent said.
“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.
“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organized struggle,” Tasdemir said.
More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek Embassy in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.
Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years.