torsdag 14 april 2011

Mitt bidrag till debatt om Nordafrika - Europarådet

The Situation in North Africa Dear Colleagues, North Africa is in turmoil. We follow the situation closely, as those countries are our neighbours and the developments there have an impact to our continent. But also because we feel closer than ever to the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, who are struggling to conquer freedom and to create new, democratic systems. Freedom and democracy should be for all. This means that we should not lose sight of the situation of women. During these months we have seen women taking active part in the uprisings, alongside men, in Tunisia and Egypt and a number of other countries of the Arab world, in North Africa and beyond. In Libya, women seemed to be less visible than in their neighbouring countries. This reflect the social and political role they have in their country, even more limited than in Tunisia and Egypt. Unfortunately, there are negative signals which are of great concern to me and which I would like to share it with you. Although women have had an important role in the revolutionary movements in North Africa, their engagement seem to lose momentum, or to be less welcome. The press reported that women were attacked in Cairo on March 8, while marching to commemorate International Women’s Day: gangs of men told women to go back home. The same had happened in Tunisia in January, when women’s groups manifested to demand equality. These might be just isolated episodes. Or they could be a sign that also emerging democratic forces disregard gender equality altogether and envisage to place women in the subordinate position that they have occupied for a long time, especially in that region. If we really support democracy and human rights, we cannot let it happen. The democratic change should benefit men as well as women. The Council of Europe and other organisations have offered their help to assist countries in democratic transition. They should ensure that the contribution of women to the fight for human rights in North African countries is not wasted. The wonderful opportunity that North African countries have to establish democracy is also an unmissable chance for women to have their rights recognised. We must do our utmost to support them. We are asked to share our expertise in the field of constitutional and legislative reforms. That is exactly where gender equality must be enshrined. I hope that more parliaments, besides those of Morocco and the Palestinian Authority, will apply for the status of Partner for Democracy with our Assembly. This would give us a chance to cooperate and support the development of democracy and human rights in those countries for all citizens. women and men. Recognising the right of women to fully participate in the social, political, cultural and economic life of their countries on an equal footing with men is perhaps the greatest challenge for new democracies in North Africa. We must stand ready to help them reach this goal. min text till tal i Europarådets debatt under fm. Det talade ordet gäller. mvh CH