Tag Archives: Women’s Rights

Communiqué de presse de l’ADFM – Press Release Morocco

 Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc

 

L’ADFM tire la sonnette d’alarme quand à la mise en œuvre de l’égalité par l’actuel gouvernement.

Les informations, rapportées par la presse, de la première réunion de la commission interministérielle mise en place par le gouvernement et présidée par le Chef du Gouvernement pour assurer le suivi et la mise en œuvre du plan gouvernemental pour l’égalité des sexes, suscite des interrogations voire une inquiétude de la part du mouvement fémininste qui a tant lutté pour que le Maroc se dote d’un véritable plan d’action nationale pour l’égalité.
L’introduction du Chef de Gouvernement M. Benkirane, sensée mobiliser et impulser la mise en œuvre du dit-plan, s’est transformée en une mise en garde et des réserves justement sur ce point de l’égalité entre hommes et femmes. Voici donc le haut responsable de l’Etat, oubliant qu’aujourd’hui la nouvelle constitution, adoptée à une très grande majorité du peuple marocain, est fondée sur l’égalité entre les citoyens et citoyennes et fait obligation aux pouvoirs publics d’agir pour l’égalité entre les sexes (préambule et article 19 de la Constitution).
Le chef du gouvernement nous renvoie à un débat que l’on pensait clos depuis 2000 en se déclarant opposé à l’égalité entre les sexes à l’occidentale! Que signifie une telle déclaration émanant d’un haut responsable de l’Etat? constitue-t-elle une remise en cause des engagements internationaux du Maroc et notamment à l’égard de la Convention pour l’élimination de toutes formes de discrimination à l’égard des femmes, alors que les réserves à l’égard de cette convention ont été levées et que le Maroc a adhéré au protocole facultatif relatif à cette convention?
Ce n’est pas le seul message inquiétant qui a été transmis dans cette réunion. Peut on excuser l’ignorance de ministres sensés avoir adopté le plan dit “Ikram” à l’égard d’un concept aussi fondamental que le budget-temps alors que dès 1997-1998 une première enquête budget temps avait été faite par le Ministère de la prévision économique et du plan bien avant la nouvelle enquête en cours par l’actuel Haut Commissariat au Plan? Plus grave encore, comment expliquer que la seule Ministre du gouvernement, Mme Bassima El Hakkaoui qui a été chargée du dossier et sensée le porter ait été incapable d’expliquer le concept appelant au secours son collègue ministre de la Fonction publique, M. Abdeladim Guerrouj.
Le Chef du gouvernement ignore-il qu’il n’est possible de se rendre compte de l’apport économique des femmes et de leur contribution au bien être familial et social sans une approche fondée sur l’observation scientifique et sur des statistiques, des activités des femmes et de leur emploi du temps. Ignore-t-il que ce sont les préjugés et les affirmations stéréotypées sur le rôle des femmes qui constituent un des principaux freins à la pleine participation des femmes à la vie économique et par conséquent au développement?
Plus grave encore voilà que le Chef de Gouvernement se prononce contre la participation des hommes aux travaux ménagers comme si cela constituait une atteinte à leur virilité! Est ce là une spécificité culturelle du Maroc ou est ce l’émanation d’une vision profondément rétrograde du principal parti de la majorité sur le rôle et la place des femmes dans la société?
L’ADFM se dit indignée par les déclarations du chef du gouvernement et interpelle M. Benkirane pour accélérer la mise en œuvre des dispositions constitutionnelles en matière des droits des femmes et la mise en place de mécanismes clairs qui garantissent le respect des droits individuels et la jouissance des femmes marocaines de tous leurs droits

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Experts: Poor to bear burden of Egypt’s IMF loan

July 01, 2013 12:57 AM
By Olivia Alabaster
The Daily Star
FILE - In this Thursday, June 27, 2013 file photo, Egyptians shop for food at a popular market in Cairo, Egypt.  (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
FILE – In this Thursday, June 27, 2013 file photo, Egyptians shop for food at a popular market in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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CAIRO: Experts warn any IMF loan package to Egypt will have dangerous long-term effects on the country’s most marginalized citizens, and that the secrecy surrounding the negotiations represents a threat to democracy. The government has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund for more than a year now over a $4.8 billion loan to help tackle the growing state budget deficit, which stood at $26.4 billion in May, according to the Finance Ministry.

The IMF is due to respond to the recently submitted reform program in the coming weeks, but details of the negotiations and conditions for the loan have not been made public.

At a regional conference in Cairo over the weekend, held by the New Woman Foundation in conjunction with Lebanon-based CRTD-A, a gender research NGO, delegates went into details of the 2013/2014 budget, recently passed by the Shura Council, many elements of which they said would be crippling to the poorest and most sidelined citizens, including women.

Head of the research institute at the Bank of Egypt, Salwa al-Antari documented how the economy had suffered since the January 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

“After a revolution which asked for certain slogans, it has gotten worse,” she said, blaming the current situation on a failure of management and a lack of good governance.

She also blamed management of the economy under Mubarak, saying that “the majority of the population before the revolution never felt the fruits of growth rates.”

While it was natural, she said, that a period of instability and financial insecurity would follow any revolution – with $9 billion in foreign reserves leaving the country in the first six months postrevolution – people were initially optimistic that the country would soon get back on its feet.

“We had the necessary infrastructure and factories, so all they would need was good management, more efficient policies … people thought. But unfortunately what happened was the opposite.”

The growth rate before the revolution stood at 5.1 percent, but by the second half of 2012 it fell to 2.2 percent. The current Cabinet has set a target of 3.5 percent, but as Antari said, “There are no signs that the situation has improved. All indicators show that the situation is deteriorating and I believe that if we manage to maintain the 2.2 percent rate of last year that would be an achievement.”

On tourism, which has always been an important pillar of the economy, Antari said that she believed the current Muslim Brotherhood-led government was intentionally mismanaging the sector.

“Whenever there are efforts to revive tourism, we find there is something intentional to stop this,” she said, citing irresponsible statements that had been issued, including claims that “Pharaonic monuments are blasphemous, that tourists only wear bikinis and drink alcohol.”

“It became obvious that there are methodological efforts to prevent tourism,” she added, including the reduction of money allocated to boosting tourism in the latest state budget and the temporary appointment of a jihadist governor of Luxor, a crucial area for tourism.

Employment too has suffered, with unemployment increasing from 9 percent before the revolution to 13 percent today, and 27 percent for women.

Those living below the poverty line – which is defined as earning just $36 per month – account for 25 percent of the population.

Antari warned that the government of Mohammad Mursi saw borrowing as the only solution for this dire situation.

Egyptian business journalist Musbah Katub said that when Mursi assumed office exactly one year ago, foreign borrowing stood at $34 billion. In the last year alone this has increased by $11 billion.

He labeled the ongoing negotiations a “bad game being played between the IMF and Mursi’s government. …I believe the current system aims at making Egypt drown in more and more foreign indebtedness,” leaving it more susceptible to other country’s desires.

“It will be very easy after that to impose conditions on the country, and the first thing they will bargain with is the Suez Canal,” he added.

Decreasing the budget deficit through such austere measures, was not worth the costs to the people of Egypt, Katub said.

“This will have adverse effects on vulnerable groups, and women will pay high costs. The whole situation is really risky and dangerous,” he added.

The new state budget increases the sales tax on a number of goods, which speakers said would unfairly hit the poorest in society. Income tax of 10 percent will be imposed upon anyone earning $65 per month, and the maximum bracket, for those earning over $35,000 a year, is just 25 percent.

Mohammad Guad, another business journalist, slammed the sales tax as “a regressive tax with very violent social impact,” and one which would most affect women, as they generally are responsible for managing the household budget.

He also said the economic policies of the government “gave the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood are against social justice and democracy.”

“The short term impacts look easy and manageable, but it’s vital to look at the long-term impacts of the conditions for the loan,” Katub said.

Economist Ahmad al-Hajjar backed these comments, saying that the country was witnessing “the same policies as under Mubarak, but just with less efficiency.”

He also said it was shameful that while women used to account for 29 percent of the workforce, they had now fallen to 23 percent, while “in the rest of the Arab region the share of women in the workforce has gone up,” and called for recognition of women’s work within the home.

Delegates at the conference, which was funded by Oxfam NOVIB and held under the Women’s Learning Partnership international banner, came up with recommendations for fairer economic justice, including increased access to information for all citizens, in particular women, so that they were aware of their rights and responsibilities, in order to best achieve political and economic empowerment.

On the lack of transparency surrounding the negotiations, Lina Abou Habib, director of CRTD-A, also asked, “Can we talk about democracy when the fate of people’s lives is not being openly discussed?”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Business/Middle-East/2013/Jul-01/222081-experts-poor-to-bear-burden-of-egypts-imf-loan.ashx#ixzz2a37xvmzr
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

As Instability Grows, IMF Loan Could Threaten Egypt’s Most Vulnerable

Posted on 29 June 2013 by

By Olivia Alabaster, on behalf of WLP Lebanon/CRTD.A

Saturday, June 29

CAIRO: The implications of an IMF loan package to Egypt were discussed in further detail on the second day of a regional conference on economic justice and women’s rights Saturday organised by CRTD.A/WLP-Lebanon.

Egyptian workers march to Shura Council on May Day 2013 (cc) Gigi Ibrahim

Egyptian workers march to Shura Council on May Day 2013 (cc) Gigi Ibrahim

In the first session Mohammed Guad, from Al-Shourouk newspaper, spoke of how the conditions which the IMF loan deal stipulates would most negatively affect the poor and marginalized sectors of society, including women.

He also described Egypt’s regional importance, stating that were the pound to collapse here, it would undoubtedly have knock-on effects across the Middle East, and suggested that faith in a country’s economy was closely linked to the political system.

“Trust in a country’s economy happens when democracy prevails,” he said.

Talking of the new state budget for Egypt, Guad slammed the sales tax as a “regressive tax with a very violent social impact.” He added that it would have bad consequences for women, who normally have to manage the household expenses and said in general the state budget gave the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood are “against social justice and democracy.”

He also stressed the need for civil society to increase efforts to speak out against the IMF loan and said that, “As seen by the previous parliament, members of parliament are not necessarily best representatives of the people, so civil society needs to step up. ”We should not remain subject to things imposed on us by others,” he added.

In groups, participants then discussed alternative approaches to achieving economic justice and equality for women.

Proposals focused on the need to expand access to information and knowledge for women across the board, and the need for political and economic empowerment to go hand in hand. It was also suggested that NGOs better network with each other, to share information and collaborate on advocacy efforts.

Another suggestion was better lobbying of politicians, as well as the need to submit regular reports to relevant actors in government.

A grassroots approach was stressed, including the need for education on women’s rights and duties, to better enable a politically aware society and an understanding of the long-term effects of an IMF loan, which in turn could help boost opposition to it.

In conclusion, Lina Abou-Habib, director of CRTD-A, said that while the conference had focused on Egypt, the lessons learned were relevant to countries across the region. Speakers had agreed, she said, on the dangers of the secrecy surrounding the ongoing negotiations. “Can we talk about democracy when the fate of people’s lives is not being openly discussed?” she asked. Abou-Habib also introduced the launch of the WLP global campaign entitled “Stand with Women Who Stand for Democracy” and the timeliness of the Campaign for both Egypt and other Arab countries in the throes of post revolts transformations. The New Women Foundation and the Equality without Reservation Coalition, both co-organisers of the events, will be launching the Campaign on their social media.

From : http://www.blog.learningpartnership.org/2013/06/egypt-imf/

Amidst New Waves of Protest, Activists Consider Economic Justice & Women’s Rights

Posted on 28 June 2013 by

By Olivia Alabaster, on behalf of WLP Lebanon/CRTD.A

CAIRO: On the opening day of WLP-Lebanon/CRTD.A’s regional conference on economic justice and women’s rights, delegates representing women’s organisations from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco met in Cairo to discuss the implications of Egypt’s current IMF (International Monetary Fund) negotiations for women.

An Egyptian woman worker stacks bricks at a brickyard kiln factory near the town of Mansoura city, 210 km north of Cairo in March 30, 2008 (cc) Nasser Nouri

An Egyptian woman worker stacks bricks at a brickyard kiln factory near the town of Mansoura city, 210 km north of Cairo in March 30, 2008 (cc) Nasser Nouri

In the opening plenary, Lina Abou-Habib, director of the Lebanese NGO CRTD-A (WLP’s partner in Lebanon), said that the theme was chosen as the IMF negotiations are an urgent matter, but due to the lack of transparency surrounding the talks, “very few of us are aware of the negotiations.”

“Attention and involvement in the issue is crucial,” she added, as “it does affect all of us.”

The first speaker, Dr. Salwa al-Antari, former head of the research institute at the Bank of Egypt, laid out the economic state of the country, and detailed how the situation has deteriorated since the revolution in 2011.

“After a revolution which asked for certain slogans, it has gotten worse. Why is this?” she asked, putting the blame on a failure of management and a lack of good governance.

However she also blamed the Mubarak government for the situation today.

“The revolution was the best proof that all the policies adopted before were complete failures,” she said “the majority of population before the revolution never felt the fruits of growth rates.”

She painted a stark portrait — a country experiencing high unemployment, ever slowing growth and high poverty.

After the revolution, foreign investment left the country – some $9 billion in the first six months alone.

The tourism sector – one vital to the country – has also suffered greatly, she said, thanks to the instability and also to deliberate neglect of the sector by government officials.

“It became obvious that there are methodological efforts to prevent tourism,” she said, citing comments from politicians and the recent appointment of an Islamist governor of the Luxor region.

She criticized the current Mursi government for looking to borrowing as the only solution for a growing budget deficit, and its 2013-2014 state budget plans, which was recently passed by the Shura Council.

Sales tax increases will most seriously affect those already struggling, and income tax rules – with 25% for the highest bracket – do not go far enough, and exempt only those who earn less than 456 Egyptian pounds a month, ($65).

To summarise, she said that any “IMF loan will impact upon poor people and women will be the worst affected.”

Business journalist Musbah Katub spoke next, and was skeptical over the worth of any IMF loan.

He described the ongoing negotiations between Mursi’s government and the IMF as a “bad game,” with the latter trying to “trap countries into indebtment… when they are unable to pay it back.”

“I believe the current proposal aims at making Egypt drown in more and more foreign indebtness,” he said, adding that when Mursi assumed office there was $34 billion of debt, a figure which has increased by $11 billion in his first year of office.

He also said that the only reason Egypt has been able to ride out these economic dark days thus far is all the unpaid work that women do.

Any IMF loan, he said, would see “women paying off high costs.”

Lastly, economist Dr. Ahmad al-Hajjar slammed the current government’s policies: “we are seeing the same policies as under Mubarak, but with less efficiency.”

The government, he said, was taking out this IMF loan to manage the state budget deficit, but it is holding the next generations responsible for paying it off.

That women’s involvement in the workforce has dropped from 29% to 23%, he said, was shameful, and were this to increase it would “help the entire country have a good productive system,” rather than merely relying on foreign loans which leave the country more susceptible to external meddling.

This Conference was organised as part of a regional programme on gender equality and economic justice including Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt and funded by Oxfam-Novib. The outcomes of this event is expected to feed into a regional policy dialogue process aiming identifying strategies to support women’s involved in economic policy formulation.

From: http://www.blog.learningpartnership.org/2013/06/egypt-imf-women-economic-justice/

Workshop on Women’s Invisible Work: Taking Steps Forward in Egypt

 

 

Around 30 participants coming from various Egyptian organisations gathered on the 25th and 26th of June at the Association of  Upper Egypt for Education and Development (AUEED) to reflect on women’s invisible work at the global, regional and national level and strengthen their communications and social media capacity, within the framework of the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action led project Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Women, currently being implemented in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco.

Participants came from all over Egypt from the Future Eve association, the New Woman Foundation, the Association of  Upper Egypt for Education and Development, the Badia Foundation, the Egyptian Association for Sustainable Development, the Forum of Women in Development and the Evangelical Association for Comprehensive Development.

During two days, participants worked on the meanings of women’s work amidst political changes in Egypt. The first day of the workshop was dedicated to a short summary of what has been achieved so far in terms of research and round tables on the  topic of women’s work in the informal sector and of domestic work. Papers prepared by CRTD.A consultants Ms Rabea Naciri and Tina Wallace, dealing with women’s informal work in the MENA region and in Lebanon, were briefly presented, along with the debates that have been organised in Lebanon on mainstream indicators and the ideologies underlying them and on women’s informal work in Lebanon. The glaring results of these studies so far have been that women’s work at home and in the informal sector, while being absolutely crucial to household economics and society as a whole, is rarely recognized, let alone valued and accounted for. This is particularly oppressive to women as in the MENA region, the overwhelming majority of women work in the informal sector and/or at home, carrying the bulk of society’s reproduction, while official indicators still estimate the female activity rate at around 20%, one of the lowest in the world.

The issue of accounting for and accurately measuring women’s participation to the economy has been extensively tackled afterwards by the resource person coming from the WIDE Network, Ms Bénédicte Allaert who questioned in her presentation mainstream indicators that we usually take for granted, such as the GDP or what constitutes work under the ILO definition. Ms Allaert went on to demonstrate that these indicators indeed did not paint an accurate picture of economic realities, globally and in the region. Participants were then invited to break into groups and work on the concepts of women’s informal work, women’s work in the household, gender stereotypes pertaining to what is perceived as “women’s work” and the three roles women have to play (productive, reproductive and in the community) paid work/unpaid work, and women in the formal sector. The outcome of the group work was the very purpose of it: participants had different understandings of the concepts, highlighting that what is being measured and studied in the economy is only the tip of the iceberg, with most of economic relationships happening unnoticed and invisible.  This knowledge and research will serve as a basis to inform and influence future and global public policies in order to improve the protection, respect and fulfilment of women’s economic rights.

The role of neo-liberal policies and their impact coupled with the impact of the economic crisis on Egyptian women were also discussed. In Egypt, lack of employment opportunities and long-standing weak social protection and work conditions systems were only worsened by the decrease in foreign investment brought about by the economic crisis, as well as the decrease in tourism. The impact of that depression in the economy was first and foremost borne by women who had to endure massive losses of jobs, and carry on the majority of the housework load.

The second day was articulated around social media and on how can Facebook Twitter and blogs help raise awareness on this topic and allow for partner to stay in touch in between physical meetings. The workshop ended with participants drafting action plans to carry the project forward, with the ultimate aim to change not only policies and laws, but also mentalities.

Stay in touch as we will soon publish interviews with Egyptian women on their points of view on why the issue of women’s work is important and relevant!

Egypt Participants Working on Social Media!

…Wish them luck, as they’re working hard to promote women’s work and women’s economic participation!

The SEOW2 Project in the Region: Upcoming Workshops on Women’s Invisible Work in Egypt and Morocco

Ever wondered why mainstream economic indicators almost never took into account women’s domestic work and work in the informal sector, even though it plays a crucial part in the economy and society?

Did you know that the overwhelming majority of women in the MENA region work in the informal sector, yet their work remains unrecognised, unvalued and unaccounted for?

To answer these questions and go deeper in analysing the definition of women’s work and making women’s invisible work visible, the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action is organising within the framework of the Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Women project a round of capacity building sessions in partner countries.

These workshops are within the continuation of CRTD.A’s commitment to highlight women’s economic participation in the region, with the long term objective of influencing public policies and actions towards the realisation of women’s economic rights and a reshaping of how economic indicators are built.

Following two round tables in Lebanon women’s informal work and economic indicators, the next capacity building workshops will take place in Egypt on the 25th and 26th of June and in Morocco on the 10th and 11th of July. During these sessions, partner organisations and their own local partners will discuss concepts pertaining to  the definition of women’s work, such as domestic work, women in the informal economy and the gendered division of labour. Resource person Ms Bénédicte Allaert from the WIDE Network and Ms Rabea Naciri  will facilitate discussions respectively in Egypt and Morocco around concepts and indicators while participants will also receive sessions on using social media for awareness raising and advocacy.

Participants will also share their own experience working on women’s rights in various local contexts and will strategize on the next steps to follow to raise awareness on the issue of women’s work and reach labour gender equality and social justice.

As the region is undergoing so many upheavals and transitions, it has never been more important to keep women’s rights at the top of the agenda and carry on our struggle for gender equality that translates in policy and practice. Stay Tuned for updates on the workshops and discussion on women’s work!

Seminar on Women’s Informal Work in Lebanon

The Collective for Research and Training on Development- Action (CRTD.A) has organised a seminar on the 12th of May on women’s informal work in Lebanon. This event is part of a debate initiatied in Lebanon for the first time by the CRTD.A, around the question of feminist economics and women’s work, and comes following a first seminar that took place in March 2012 around mainstream economic indicators and the ideologies underlying them. CRTD.A has been working in women’s economic empowerment for nearly a decade now, and is currently implementing a regional project in Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan on women’s informal work and women’s participation to the economy in these four countries and on how to visibilise women’s work.

The seminar was moderated by Ms Lina Abou Habib, CRTD.A’s Executive Director while Dr Christina Wallace, resource person, introduced the concepts of informal work and domestic work and detailed what is currently being measured worldwide with regards to women’s work. This introduction was then narrowed down to the specificity of Lebanon and of how patriarchal attitudes and beliefs, coupled with the Lebanese sectarian system and neo-liberal policies, ensured that Lebanese women’s work was rarely valued and its contribution to the economy, seldom recognized.

The audience was composed of members of the Lebanese civil society and of the women’s movement, but also of women working in the cooperatives in different regions of Lebanon. Following Ms Wallace’s intervention, participants were broken up into groups to discuss what would be the next steps to take sure the situation in Lebanon pertaining to women’s work shifts in their favour.

We have recorded women’s replies and points of view with regards to what is women’s work and how it should be valued. We’re posting one video here, and you can watch them all on our YouTube Channel here

Feeling like seeing the photos? Meet us here 

The report of the event is being finalised and CRTD.A will follow up on the main outcomes of the event with participants, to make sure a coherent strategy to visibilise women’s work. So stay tuned to updates here, and submit your feedback anytime!

CRTD.A At the AWID Forum: Forging a new path for women’s economic rights in the MENA region

CRTD.A Stand at the Education Space

The AWID Forum has come and gone, and it took us some time to process all the energy, commitment and reflection that happened from the 18th to the 22nd of April 2012.

The Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action (CRTD.A) wasn’t only a mere participant to the event: with a delegation of five people, it played an active role in the sessions, either by organizing break out or in-depth sessions, or by participating to panels or by asking questions and looking deeper into issues.

 

The theme of this AWID Forum was “Transforming Economic Powers to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice”, a key priority for the CRTD.A who has been working on issues of economic justice for women in the Middle East for the past ten years now, advocating for the economic empowerment of women via skills-building projects, the setting up and partnerships with cooperatives, facilitating their management and access to market for example. Besides, the CRTDA has recently started opening up the debate in Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan on women’s work, the indicators measuring the work women do and its contribution to the economies of these four countries, as well as on women’s work in the informal sector.

 

These questions being central to the Forum, CRTD.A has been invited by the AWID Education Corner at the Forum to be part of a panel on sharing experiences on skills building sessions on women economic rights. The panel was shared with NGO workers, activists and academic from all over the world, includingIndia, theUSA, andBolivia. During this panel, CRTD.A was able to share its experience building the capacity of its constituency within the Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Women (SEOW2) project. It was interesting to study the similarities of experiences between the panelists despite the diversity of contexts: indeed, the global patriarchal system undermining women’s participation and contribution to the economy, along with the global conservative neo-liberal agendas impact all contexts present during the panel, which prompted panelists and the audience as a whole to have a conversation on what could be done to counteract the adverse effects on women of these two oppressive systems. While not one size-fits-all answer would be relevant, participants emphasized the need for solidarity and networking not only with and between national partners, but also among women’s rights defenders worldwide. The question of resources was also heavily debated, with the conundrum many NGOs and activists face: while donor funding is crucial to achieving sustainable work, it is also a form of dependence, and sometimes, imperialism, and civil society organizations should come up with alternative, independent ways of funding.

 

In that logic, the Resources Mobilization corner at the Forum provided a great platform to ask and discuss these questions.

 

Shady Khalil’s Graffiti 7arimi were also present at the AWID Forum

CRTD.A organized as well a session on Collective Advocacy in Muslim-majority countries with panelists Bénédicte Allaert from the WIDE Network, Egyptian activist Amal Abdel Hadi and Tunisian activist and doctor Ahlem Belhaj. This session started with a presentation on the CRTD.A’s SEOW2 project, as the project is regional and deals with economic empowerment of women in four Muslim majority countries: therefore, examples of collective advocacy in such contexts were given from the CRTD.A’s perspective. Ms Allaert shared then with the audience the research she has been working on on mainstream indicators and the ideologies underlying them. What is being measured at a global and regional level? Are there some best practices from governments who actually measure and take into account women’s work? “We value what we measure” has been a good maxim to show the poor level of measuring women’s work, and therefore of valuing it. The example of Liberia, which integrates the contribution of women’s work in the informal economy within the active women statistics was a good illustration that alternative measurements of the economy are possible and that the GDP-based, classical model did not reflect the reality of many Southern economies, and more particularly, the reality of many Middle Eastern contexts, where women account for roughly 70% of the informal work force, if not more.

 

Amal Abdel Hadi and Ahlem Belhaj spoke about the specific context of revolutionaryEgyptandTunisia, and on how women’s work remained invisible despite the change in regime and despite women being so active and present during the uprisings. Vigilance with regards to the pervasive patriarchal agenda seemed to be their words of warning for the future. Many questions were asked by a predominantly Middle Eastern and North African audience, notably on the issue of Qiwama and dialogues lasted long after the session was over, with ,many contacts being exchanged to carry on the conversation and collective action.

 

One of the innovation of this edition of the Forum was the organization of in-depth sessions, allowing for a strong focus on a certain topic, running for three hours and a half every day of the forum, a bit like an intensive lecture/participatory session. CRTD.A took active part in this pilot by co-organising with its partner the Women’s Learning Partnership the in-depth session on women’s rights and transition democracy in the MENA region. After a plenary in which Rabea Naciri from Morocco and Asma Khader from Jordan spoke about the constitutional processes and changes in the region, participants broke into groups to discuss constitutional reforms, the role of media and social media in making women’s claims visible and processes on transitional justice. I was lucky to be part of the group on constitutional reforms: it felt incredibly empowering sitting at the heart of a women’s cluster, reflecting and suggesting strategies on the core laws and processes of the countries of the region.

 

Women’s invisibility and the lack of gender perspective in the current constitutional assemblies (notably in Tunisia and Egypt) lead us to emphasize the need first of all of popular education on the importance of constitutional reforms and second of all, on the absolute necessity to have assemblies of women drafting their own version of the Constitution. The issue of negotiations with conservative powers came up: as feminists, where should we draw the line? What are the non negotiable? Should we have a long term vision and keep our radical agenda and invest on education and awareness-raising or should we cede on some points in the short to mid-term to insert ourselves in the debates and decisions? But if we do, would that keep the integrity of our thoughts and vision or who would be compromising the aims of our struggle? There are no clear cut, one size-fits-all answer to these questions, they take in-depth research, historical perspective, thinking and anticipation, input from different experiences and expertise to have a clearer picture of how to influence and shape the society we hope to see and want. We are still working on what the ideal gender sensitive constitution would be, but Rabea Naciri outlined some relevant, core points that Constitutions in post revolution countries should include, such as clarity of language and terminology so as to prevent any harmful-to-women interpretations and explicit prohibition of any type of discrimination based on gender on top of calling for substantive gender equality. Constitutions should also specifically speak to the rights of political opposition and mention and include civil society and its contribution to society as a whole.

 

The trouble with women’s Work…

CRTD.A’s delegation was also very active on social media, linking online then offline with partners, following sessions that were relevant to their work but also sessions that were related to issues of women’s rights they might not have been familiar with in order to build their own capacity, initiative new contacts and widen their perspectives and reflections.

 

The AWID Forum has been a whirlwind of events, sessions, conversations and experiences, and CRTD.A felt proud to be a part of this event, and to carry on the work and priorities it has set for itself, feeling stronger now more than ever having this visit to the Feminist family.

 

The Costs of Undervaluing Women’s Work

Posted first  on 02 April 2012 by lina Abou Habib on WLP Website

On March 29, 2012 WLP-Lebanon/CRTD.A organized a round table discussion on economic indicators and how they measure women’s economic participation, contribution and empowerment.

CRTD.A has been working on the issue of women’s economic rights and participation for more than a decade.

During the past few years, CRTD.A engaged in a regional initiative including five MENA countries with the aim of exploring sustainable economic alternatives for women. The initiative investigated, amongst other things, the issue of women’s invisible work and its contribution to the economy. Research conducted in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Morocco revealed that:
• Conventional statistics and indicators fail to capture all the work that women do, especially all the care work that they do for others;
• Women’s care work, including household work, is often a non-negotiable obligation and expectation;
• Household and care work constitute a tangible obstacle towards women’s participation in public and political life, and are major hurdles to their entering and re-entering the job market, as well as to career advancement;
• With states in the MENA region systematically retreating from service provision and securing social entitlements, women are more and more bearing the brunt of care work;
• The entire sector of the care economy in the MENA region is by and large feminized and continues to be hidden, unrecognized, and not valued.

The main conclusion is that indicators measure only what is valued in society and exclude women’s work mainly in view of the poor value attributed to it!

Over the past few years, CRTD.A has been furthering the analysis on the issue of what constitutes women’s work? How is the value of this work attributed? In which way does this value contribute to excluding women not only from public life but also from public policy?

As a result of this work, a round table discussion was organized on March 29, 2012 to look specifically at the mainstream economic indicators with a view to analyze what these indicators measure. How do they measure it? What are the underlying ideologies which determine what is measured and what is left out? What are the implications at the level of policy making? What are the proposed alternatives that serve not only to capture women’s actual contribution to the economy but also to better inform inclusive policies?

The round table discussion was attended by some 40 participants including a small group of researchers and academics from the Lebanese University, the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University and the University of Balamand. Other participants included representatives of local women’s organizations, development organizations, political parties, and UN organizations.

The round table discussion began with an overview of mainstream economic indicators, including a critical analysis of the most commonly used indicators (GDP, GNP, Employment and Unemployment rates, Economic Activity Rates, etc.) and the ideologies on which these indicators are based, namely economic growth, monetary transactions, “trickle-down effect,” etc. The case was made that these indicators fail to recognize the more important non-monetary transactions, which constitute the bulk of work that is required for securing well-being and livelihoods, and exclude costs in terms if depletion of natural and human resources. Alternative indicators were also discussed whilst emphasizing their complex and composite nature and the experimental ways in which they are being implemented in a number of developing and developed countries.

In kicking off this round table discussion, CRTD.A intended to mobilize local actors in engaging in an in-depth and critical debate on women’s economic rights and participation through understanding and critically analyzing how mainstream economic indicators reflect a patriarchal ideology and how they can, alternatively be challenged.

Several of the participants provided excellent commentaries and suggestions on moving forward with the discussion. We have retained further research on the key concepts that underline the feminist analysis of the economy, notably household work, care work, invisible work, formal and informal work, etc. Capacity building on these concepts was also put forward as a priority for action, especially in regards to women’s economic participation and the visibilization and valorization of women’s invisible care and reproductive work.

CRTD.A / WLP-Lebanon is continuing its engagement in the issue of women’s economic rights and participation with a view to produce further pedagogical material, adding to the leadership, political participation, and other training material already produced by the Partnership.