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Arab women forum:Statement on the occassion of the international women day
Arab Women’s Forum – AISHA Network
Statement on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011

The 8 of March, International Women’s Day, this year, has accompanied by democratic movements and women’s distinctive in the region, coupled with a glimmer of hope and the outset of revolutions in favor of democratic change in most Arab countries, where the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples succeeded in breaking the barriers of fear and silence of injustice and oppression and in bringing down the symbols of tyranny and dictatorship, thus constituting a shining start for a brand new history for Arab peoples, for both women and men and women.

We, at the Arab Women’s Forum – AISHA, feel as Arab women that this International Women’s Day is a real celebration for women, accompanied by the cries calling of democratic freedoms, equality, and social justice, with women and men joined struggling to break the silence of human rights violations and discrimination and requesting justice and dignity for all. The international Women’s Day this year is accompanied by young people and young women chants in the public squares calling “the people want …” to reiterate the persistence and determination on people’s right to self-determination and build a secular democratic civil state. On this occasion, we can only record our pride in the struggles of Arab women who effectively involved in the movements for democratic change, ascertaining that women’s issues and equality are correlatively linked to the nation’s issues and freedoms, and the role of women and their contribution to the revolution is necessary to overcoming all violence obstacle, discrimination, and incomplete -unequal citizenship.

Arab Women’s Forum – AISHA as a democratic and secular women forum, consider that our struggle as an integral part of other and different women social movements struggle that have democratic dimension against political and socio-economic oppression. In this regard, we would like to assert the following:

- Democratic change and transformation must be based on human rights, public freedoms, social justice, and equitable development. It also considered that gender equality is fundamental prerequisite for the establishment and achievement of the targeted change.

- The prevailing patriarchal cultural structure constitutes the major obstacle preventing the building of democracy. Toppling down repressive and totalitarian regimes which violated the rights of their peoples should go in pair with fighting all forms of patriarchal authority which deepens discrimination and violence against women. We do consider the liberating secular women’s discourse and the culture of gender equality as an alternative to the prevailing men’s culture, in the face of discriminatory and fundamentalist discourses.
- Excluding women from taking part in democratic change and in building the modern state reveals an incomplete citizenship for women and a strictly shallow change towards democracy. Women contributing to the building of the State represent the backbone of progress and modernity; it is, indeed, a right that women have endeavored to win through their participation to the success of the revolution, a revolution which shall protect and reinforce the advantages women have gained so far and shall improve them to achieve full and efficient gender equality.

-The modern and civil state we are looking for is the state of law, rights and full and equal citizenship, which should be based on separating religion from the State to guarantee diversity, pluralism, freedoms, and rights.

-Building a modern state is tributary of gender equality in rights and responsibilities. Therefore, the process to rebuild the nation shall start with the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws and in all the aspects of the public political, economic, and social life, as well as the personal status code which controls women in their private life.

Within the context of democratic change and the building of a modern State, we call again to:
1- Lift all reservations regarding the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), put the Convention into execution, and conclude the annexed optional protocol to empower men and women alike to benefit from the provisions of the Convention and exercise their rights stipulated in the said Convention.

2- Remove all discriminatory texts against women from all constitutions and laws, including the adoption of a civil personal status code on the basis of equality and the adoption of laws incriminating domestic violence against women and girls, since such an issue is highly important and significant, and acknowledge the full citizenship of women.

In conclusion, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we cannot but pay tribute to Arab women who are seeking to confront the backwardness of regimes, injustice, and tyranny.
We hereby express our solidarity with them, in favor of freedom, democracy, modernity, and human rights.
We also pay tribute to Arab women fighting for freedom, for the right to self-determination and for building a civil state.
We wish glory and eternal life to the women martyrs of the revolution of justice and dignity in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Oman.