OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights

OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Hissein Brahim Taha, left, the secretary-general of the OIC. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan with Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Hissein Brahim Taha, the secretary-general of the OIC. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Hala Al-Tuwaijri, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Saudi Arabia hosted the International Conference on Women in Islam: Status and Empowerment in Jeddah. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Mauritanian Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Marzouk. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan. (Supplied)
OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
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Hissein Brahim Taha, the secretary-general of the OIC. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 November 2023
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OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights

OIC reaffirms support for Muslim women’s rights
  • Kingdom has taken rapid steps toward empowering women, says Saudi FM
  • On the sidelines of the conference, the OIC chief held talks with Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina Wazed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia hosted the “International Conference on Women in Islam: Status and Empowerment,” in Jeddah on Monday under the patronage of King Salman.

The three-day conference, organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, aims to shed light on the successes of Muslim women, highlight their role and contribution to development, and counter the negative propaganda that portrays Islamic religion as an obstacle to women obtaining their rights.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan delivered a speech in which he expressed his gratitude to the participating delegations for their response to the Kingdom’s call to hold this important conference.

He said that women faced various and multiplying challenges in areas of war and armed conflict, including violence, poverty, fear, marginalization and the absence of health and educational care for their children. He said that it was imperative to protect and support these most-affected and vulnerable groups.

“We meet today in light of the difficult circumstances that Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip are experiencing under the ongoing Israeli violations of international laws and humanitarian principles, in light of the silence and failure of the international community to carry out its duties and responsibilities to stop the escalation, stop the bloodshed, and ensure immediate access to urgent and necessary humanitarian aid,” he said.

The minister expressed the Kingdom’s condemnation of the violations, illegal practices and crimes against humanity that Palestinian women and the Palestinian people were subjected to, and “we appreciate and praise women’s pivotal role and great sacrifices for the sake of the justice of their cause.”

Muslim women face numerous challenges and suffer from harassment and discrimination in some other countries amid restrictive legislations that limited their rights, particularly on wearing the hijab, Prince Faisal said.

He added that such practices, driven by Islamophobia, contradicted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979.

Saudi Arabia had taken rapid steps toward empowering women in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the foreign minister said. He said that Saudi women had become indispensable partners in the journey of transformation, development and growth.

Prince Faisal said women’s participation in the workforce had increased from 19.3 percent in 2016 to 37 percent. He added that women owned 45 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises and assumed 39 percent of the leadership positions, up from 17 percent previously.

The foreign minister commended the efforts of the OIC in empowering women and prioritizing their interests. Prince Faisal highlighted the OIC’s establishment of a specialized organization for women’s development, which was led by a Saudi woman.

Prince Faisal announced the official document of the conference, titled “The Jeddah Document for Women in Islam,” which comprehensively covers the rights of women in Islam. The document is set to serve as a legal, legislative and intellectual reference, contributing to the realization of the tangible empowerment of women in Islamic societies.

Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the OIC, said that since its inception, the OIC had devoted itself to the promotion of the rights and empowerment of Muslim women. He said that this commitment had culminated in the adoption of the OIC Program of Action for the Advancement of Women, widely regarded as a roadmap in Muslim societies.

Taha said that the conference came at a time when the Palestinians were facing brutal Israeli aggression, and women, particularly Gazan women, as well as children, older people, and other innocent civilians, were among the victims of this bombing.

The secretary-general also affirmed the OIC’s determination to continue constructive dialogue to empower Afghan women and guarantee their right to access education at all levels and participate in public life.

Taha said that the conference would remain a beacon in the OIC and participating bodies’ history for promoting and affirming women’s rights in Islam, noting that the conference would adopt the Jeddah Document on Women’s Rights in Islam.

He expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia for hosting the conference and thanked all the participating women figures.

The conference witnessed speeches by Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed, several foreign ministers, ministers of women and family affairs from the OIC member states, and female participants and invitees who delivered research papers.

Wazed said that Islam was a religion of mercy, humanity and harmony, pointing out that the first person to convert to Islam was Khadija bint Khuwaylid.

She said that the Kingdom’s pioneering initiatives were intended to increase women’s participation under the leadership of King Salman and the crown prince.

The Bangladeshi PM also reviewed some of Bangladesh’s efforts to uphold women’s rights and enshrine them in the constitution since the era of the founder, President Mujibur Rahman, and said that women were at the forefront of social development efforts in Bangladesh, where currently 73 women were members of parliament.

Wazed said that her political party was working to increase the participation and representation of women at all levels, and that she was trying to remove all obstacles that prevented women from engaging in the decision-making process.

She said that Bangladesh hosted the Islamic University of Technology, which is one of the institutions affiliated with the OIC and which has many male and female students from the Islamic world, and that Bangladesh encourages female students from all Islamic countries to study there.

Wazed condemned the crimes and massacres committed by the Israeli occupation against women and children in Gaza, and called on all parties to ensure humanitarian protection and aid, and an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. She called for an immediate end to “this dreadful war, collective punishment and illegal occupation of Palestine.”

President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Hala Al-Tuwaijri praised the support for women in the Kingdom by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which had led to Saudi women contributing to local, regional and international achievements.

Al-Tuwaijri highlighted the Kingdom's endeavors to engage Saudi women in the comprehensive development witnessed by all sectors to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Various fields in the Kingdom, Al-Tuwaijri said, had undergone more than 50 legislative and executive reforms, contributing to developing the legal framework that promotes and protects women’s rights, and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women.

These reforms, Al-Tuwaijri added, resulted in a 34.7 percent increase, from 21.2 percent, in female participation in the labor market from 2017 to 2022, and a 37 percent increase, from 17 percent, in the rate of women’s economic participation during the same period.

According to Al-Tuwaijri, the percentage of Saudi women in the civil service reached 42 percent by the end of the third quarter of 2022, 20 percent of the Shoura Council seats were allocated to women representatives, the percentage of women in administrative positions increased from 28.6 percent in 2017 to 41.1 percent in 2022, the share of women-owned small and medium enterprises increased from 22.5 percent in 2017 to 45 percent in 2022, the rate of women’s participation in the communications and information technology sector increased from 7 percent in 2017 to 30.5 percent in 2022, and the percentage of Saudi women-owned commercial registors reached 40 percent of the commercial registors of existing institutions.

Al-Tuwaijri said that women could now hold positions in the judiciary, security and the military. They were equal to men as members of the Public Prosecution; where there were 200 women, 282 women worked as administrative staff, 238 were trainees, 8,377 were in security and military agencies, and 9,976 were in the Ministry of Interior and its affiliated sectors.

Al-Tuwaijri said that Muslim women today faced challenges, including being deprived of some of their rights in some societies, Islamophobia, and the spread of hate speech.

She pointed out the tragic and inhumane conditions that Palestinian women were experiencing, especially in the Gaza Strip, due to the war and aggression waged by the Israeli occupation against civilians, the majority of whom were innocent women, children and the elderly.

Al-Tuwaijri expressed hope that the conference would come up with a roadmap for legislative reforms and initiatives aimed at empowering women and providing them with the opportunity to participate in various economic, educational and social fields.

Mauritanian Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Marzouk said that the conference reflected Saudi Arabia’s vision under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to address the major issues of the Islamic nation and the keenness to protect legitimate rights and freedoms that were consistent with Islamic values, including the contribution to consolidate social security, strengthen harmony and integration among all its members, and achieve comprehensive well-being and sustainable development.

The Mauritanian minister stressed the need to highlight the specific teachings of Islam toward women’s honor and reverence.

He said that empowering women in Islamic societies should occupy the forefront of a strategic vision in achieving a desired renaissance.

Five working sessions will be held during the conference, with ministers, officials, scholars and thinkers delving into the status of women and their rights in Islam, examining ways to empower Muslim women in education and work, and discussing issues related to women in contemporary societies.

On the sidelines of the conference, the OIC chief held talks with the Bangladeshi PM. She stressed the importance of supporting women’s rights and status.

During the meeting, cooperation and ways to boost joint Islamic action were discussed, as well as the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and their repercussions on peace and security in the region and the world.


Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation

Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation
Updated 47 min 59 sec ago
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Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation

Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation
  • Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day official visit, the main aim of which was to enhance economic cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, held talks in Islamabad on Tuesday with the chief of staff of the Pakistan Army, Gen. Asim Munir.

They discussed ways to enhance the “strong cooperation” between their nations in several fields, including ways to work together to improve security and strategic cooperation in ways that contribute to international peace and security.

Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day official visit, the main aim of which was to enhance economic cooperation. He also met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar.

The prince was leading a high-level Saudi delegation that included Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef, and senior officials from the ministries of energy and investment, and the Public Investment Fund.


Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York

Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York

Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York
  • Tourism minister says he hopes Kingdom can help lead transformation of sector into an environmentally friendly industry that supports communities and countries

NEW YORK: The Saudi tourism minister on Tuesday reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to sustainable development of the travel sector.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has become one of the most promising and attractive global travel destinations.

He was speaking at the start of an event at the UN headquarters in New York that aims to encourage a concerted approach to enhance the resilience of the sector at the highest level and maximize its contribution to sustainability.

The event, which takes place during UN Sustainability Week, was convened by the president of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, in cooperation with UN Tourism.

Al-Khateed highlighted the efforts the Kingdom is making to address the environmental impacts of the travel and tourism sector, and noted that those efforts had contributed to the establishment, with Saudi Support, of the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Center for Sustainable Tourism.

During the past two years, Saudi Arabia has sought, in its role as chair of the executive council of UN Tourism, to enhance the representation of the travel and tourism sector in international forums, Al-Khateeb said.

This has resulted in UN Tourism and the Kingdom cooperating on a package of initiatives to help achieve this goal, including a Best Tourism Villages award, a Tourism Opens Minds initiative, and a working group to reimagine the future of tourism, Al-Khateeb added. He also noted his country’s efforts to ensure the tourism sector was properly represented on the agenda for UN Sustainability Week. 

Saudi Arabia topped the UN World Tourism list in 2023 in terms of growth among major tourism destinations in the number of international visitors. It also topped the list of G20 nations in terms of the number of international tourists, welcoming more than 27 million last year, Al-Khateeb said. He added that authorities in the Kingdom are developing plans and strategies to attract more than 70 million international tourists a year by 2030.

By then, he said, the Kingdom aims to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 278 million tonnes annually, designated 30 percent of land and marine territory as protected areas, and planted more than 600 million trees.

“The Kingdom has taken significant steps to launch the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, with the aim of accelerating the travel and tourism sector’s transition to climate neutrality, protecting nature and empowering communities around the world,” Al-Khateeb said.

He also highlighted major Saudi projects such as the NEOM smart city development and the Red Sea tourism project that aim to ensure they have positive effects on the climate, environment and local communities.

He also expressed the Kingdom’s aspiration for all countries to make concerted efforts, and be open to cooperation, to achieve the goal of sustainable development in the global travel and tourism sector.

Al-Khateeb said that through this important UN event, he hopes the Kingdom can spread a message to the world about the need to preserve the environment, and can help lead and support the transformation of tourism into an environmentally friendly industry that supports communities and countries worldwide.

UN Sustainability Week began on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York and continues until Friday.


Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received two separate calls from UAE president Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Qatar’s emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Saudi Press Agency said early Wednesday.

The calls discussed the recent military escalation in the region and its repercussions on safety and security, in addition to the latest developments in Gaza.

They also underscored the importance of exerting efforts to prevent the situation from worsening and to spare the region the dangers of this escalation, the SPA added.


Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference

Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference

Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference
  • The Saudi delegation at the two-day event is led by the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, Mohammed Qurban
  • During 8 previous events since the conference was launched in 2014, participants announced 2,160 commitments worth $130 billion

RIYADH: Saudi authorities showcased their programs and plans for environmental protection and sustainability initiatives on Tuesday, during the first day of the 9th Our Ocean Conference in Athens.

Delegates at this year’s event, the theme for which is “Our Ocean: An Ocean of Potential,” include representatives of governments and businesses, as well as activists and experts on marine environments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They are discussing topics such as protected marine areas, sustainable blue economies, maritime security, the relationship between oceans and climate change, sustainable fishing, and ways to combat marine pollution. Other issues to be addressed during the conference include sustainable tourism in coastal areas and on islands, ways to reduce plastic and microplastic pollution in marine environments, green shipping, and the green transition in the Mediterranean.

The Saudi delegation at the two-day event is led by the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, Mohammed Qurban. The initiatives in the Kingdom highlighted at the conference revolve around ways to protect oceans and other water resources, and the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

“Our participation in the work of this global conference reflects the Kingdom’s keenness to support the efforts and endeavors aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals, protecting the seas, oceans and water resources, and the sustainable use of marine resources in a way that reflects the trends of the Kingdom and (its) Vision 2030 (development plan) to support environmental protection efforts,” said Qurban.

He highlighted several key national projects that are underway, including the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to expand protected areas of the Kingdom to encompass 30 percent of its total land and sea territory, and plant 100 million mangrove trees by 2030.

“The Kingdom remains resolute in its mission to safeguard nature and its invaluable ecological treasures, with a special emphasis on the Red Sea region,” Qurban said. “We stand ready to deploy all necessary resources and efforts toward sustainable conservation endeavors.”

Participation in forums such as the Our Ocean Conference encourages the invaluable sharing of knowledge, a cross-pollination of ideas, and collaborations in the creation of innovative ways to tackle environmental challenges and promote sustainable practices, he added.

During the previous eight events since the conference was launched in 2014 by the US to fill a gap in global ocean governance at the time, participants have announced 2,160 commitments worth $130 billion, organizers said.

Other items on the agenda this year include ways in which oceans will meet the needs of future generations, ways to encourage governments, businesses and other organizations to adopt long-term commitments that have positive effects on oceans, and efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals relating to oceans, seas and marine resources.


Saudi Shoura Council speaker meets king of Jordan in Amman

Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Abdullah Al-Asheikh meets Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (SPA)
Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Abdullah Al-Asheikh meets Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (SPA)
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Shoura Council speaker meets king of Jordan in Amman

Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Abdullah Al-Asheikh meets Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (SPA)
  • Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh also meets speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives
  • Sides discuss greater cooperation in parliamentary affairs

RIYADH: The Speaker of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh, met Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday during an official visit to the country.

The meeting, held in the presence of Crown Prince Hussein, discussed “the historical fraternal relations between the two countries, their people and their leaders,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The sides also discussed ways to expand cooperation in various fields, especially parliamentary affairs, and the importance of maintaining their collaboration on issues of common interest.

Al-Asheikh led a delegation to Jordan following an invitation from Ahmed Safadi, speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives.

In a separate meeting, the two speakers discussed ways to strengthen parliamentary cooperation and enhancing ties in other areas.

Al-Asheikh thanked his hosts for the warm reception and hospitality extended to his delegation.

“This visit comes within the framework of strengthening parliamentary cooperation between the two councils and keeping pace with the aspirations of the leadership of the two countries to strengthen bilateral relations and open new horizons for cooperation in a way that serves the interests of the two countries and their peoples,” he said.

Safadi noted the strong relations between the two countries and the high level of coordination between the Shoura Council and the Jordanian House of Representatives.

He also expressed his appreciation for the support Saudi Arabia had shown Jordan on various regional and international issues.