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Mrs. Tawakkol Karman's Speech at Fifth Edition of Rome MED 2019 Conference

Let me first express my sincere gratitude and thanks for inviting me to participate in this event on the role of women’s power and skills in making the difference the Mediterranean region. This region has undergone major civilizational transformations and interactions, which could serve as a model of coexistence and cooperation between different cultures and civilizations.

Dear friends,
Significant women-related achievements characterized by some European experiences do not mean that women's status needs no moe constant reassessment and improvement to eliminate any rights-related disparities between men and women. For examlpe, women are still less paid than men in advanced countries. The problem is even greater as we head south, where women suffer from any discriminatory laws and customs, which requires a redoubled effort so that women could play active role in societies.

Authoritarian governments' repressive policies against society have contributed to harming the status of both women and men. Of course, women have been more affected in this regard, as women’s active and remarkable participation in 2011 Arab Spring revolutions were followed by counter-revolutions and coups that have adopted exclusionary policies against civic movements and trends currently embodied by youth and women in particular.

To my knowledge, projects and initiatives that seek to empower women politically, economically and socially are numerous. I can say with confidence that the Mediterranean region is the most eligible to manage such projects effectively and efficiently. All that I look for in this regard is more cooperation and exchange of experiences between the two sides of the Mediterranean, European and Arab, as doing so would contribute to strengthening peace-building and coexistence between different cultures.

Dear friends,
A review of history shows women have acquired many skills, including those related to politics and rule, and proved themselves to be successful in different fields like trade, science, sports, etc. Hence, we do not need to test the feasibility of our endeavors to advance the status of women because such endeavors have already proved effective and our history is full of examples demonstrating that women are able to prove themselves and societies are ready to accept and even benefit from that, which makes us more confident that the future will certainly be better.

Finally, I believe that empowering women and training them in the areas of capacity-building and skills would have a positive impact on protecting our societies and advancing peace plans in areas of armed conflict, as well as would contribute to strengthening democratic and humane choices in stable societies. Empowered women indicate strong society, while vulnerable women refer to unhealthy society.

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Dear friends,
Women's issues are often viewed as a matter for women alone. Somehow feminist movements and forums have contributed to this reality by dealing with women's issues in a narrow and selfish manner. But more than that, some introduce women's issues as issues that are completely separate from or necessarily incompatible with those of men or of society in general.

As I have said on more than one occasion, such a way of dealing does not help the advancement of the status of women and involves also shameful disinformation women should not be dragged into. A society suffering from the absence of the values of freedom and equality and from unfair laws and regulations would never be able to provide women with better treatment than that provided to men, so I always looked at women's rights and their political and economic empowerment from a broad rather than a reductionist perspective because I know that rights are indivisible and should not be granted selectively.

 

Dear friends,
Quite frankly, the title of this meeting focusing on the impact that power and skills are expected to have on women, their lives and their communities In my belief, this is an important approach to the advancement of women and help communities to invest their capacities and potentials in a way that makes these communities more stable and prosperous.

It's essential to establish a well-defined concept of power like what we mean by power. Do we mean jobs, good training, money, power, care or laws? Or all of these? Or multiple elements that make women more capable of accomplishing and contributing to changing their status quo and future and shaping their future?  As you know, providing women with the necessary skills that would enable them to be persist in a competitive environment may be part of power women must be given, not to face life conditions, but to make clear differences in their life and the life of those around them, or in their communities, especially In regions characterized by unequal stability.

 

Dear friends,
Allow me turn the spotlight on the aspect related to wars, armed conflicts, political instability and coups d'état afflicting many Mediterranean countries such as Syria, Libya, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and other countries, and their repercussions on the status of women and on women’s ability to respond to initiatives designed to improve women’s status and situation in general.

As is known, these conflicts have contributed to making the situation of women worse, and there are many statistics showing how women are becoming more vulnerable to abuse, both in conflict areas and during migration, so I think it is crucial to find a way to provide women with the skills and abilities that help them to face the conditions of war. Besides, women in those areas shouldn’t be seen as useless project. By my estimate, primarily social and economic empowerment of women will have a positive impact on areas of receiving refugees and migrants.