DUBAI: Tunisia and the Arab world’s first female prime minister on Tuesday called for increased global efforts to empower women.
Speaking at the World Government Summit, Najla Bouden Romdhane said the issue was part and parcel of preventing violence against women.
During a session titled Driving Positive Change: Rise of Women in Government, she noted the importance of including women in leadership, economic, and private-sector roles.
She told delegates: “I speak as a daughter of Tunisia; I also speak as the first women who leads a government in the Arab world. The issue of violence against women is a global concern.”
The 64-year-old PM pointed out that targeting women emotionally and depriving them financially had major repercussions on society.
“Equal opportunities must be created and upheld. We need to give women the correct tools to allow them to make decisions and to draft laws beneficial for society.”
While Tunisia had made strides toward empowering women, such as by doubling loan amounts granted to those living in rural areas, she said more still needed to be done.
“Women continue to answer challenges. But we are still small in numbers in terms of leadership roles and business owners. Without true will to bring about change, we cannot find the solutions to move forward nor create equal opportunities between the sexes,” the premier added.
Uganda’s vice president, Jessica Alupo, highlighted her country’s past and explained how since 1986, under the presidential leadership of Yoweri Museveni, women had been identified as a “special interest group” providing them with a platform to participate in political and economic affairs.
She noted that parish, school, and community groups were created to discuss and encourage the role of women in the country.
Alupo pointed out the potential harm a patriarchal society could cause especially when depriving women of an education and excluding them from involvement in decision-making and leadership roles.
“The mindset must be changed, and it starts with enlightening communities and encouraging them to leave harmful, outdated ideals behind,” she said.
Society, Alupo added, expected women to “move twice as fast as men. We are up to the task, we continue to show the male that we can do it, but we would also like to work alongside males in our endeavor’s.”
With globalization continuing apace and women making up half of the world’s population, Arab and African leaders at the summit session agreed on the need to promote female participation in all aspects of life, including the drafting of policies, the framing of laws, and budget setting.