Some of the rights of Arab women have been enumerated in a groundbreaking new document.
Drafted by the Arab Parliament – the legislative body of the Arab League – the Arab Charter on Women’s Rights was launched in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, October 8.
Among the 25 enumerated rights in the document include the rights for Arab women to education, health care, work opportunities, free services for new mothers, the right to marry foreigners, and to pass their citizenship on to their children.
A document that took about two years to draft, Arab League member states are expected to sign the charter during the next meeting of the Arab League. Signing the charter, however, does not mean the rights enumerated therein will become law in individual nations – the charter is meant to serve as a guide for Arab League member states in drafting their own individual laws.
In a speech delivered by UAE Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak on behalf of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak – wife of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the founder of the UAE and Father of the Nation) and Mother of the Nation – the charter was hailed as a historic document.
“The Arab Charter on Women’s Rights is a historical document, predicated on the noble and moral principles and teachings of the Islamic faith, with full consideration for the Arab region’s needs to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development while enabling and empowering women to fulfil their goals.”
“This charter is a source of pride that highlights the principles of equality, equal opportunity, and joint action among all elements within a nation to attain progress and prosperity in Arab society.
“The Charter, in my view, embodies a collective will to engage women in societal development. Arab women should, with utmost determination, take on all opportunities and possibilities they deserve to realise their enormous potential.
“Today’s launch of the Arab Charter on Women’s Rights is an expression of our confidence in the future. It also relays a clear message: societies succeed through achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
The launch of the charter comes amid rapid progress for women in the region. In Saudi Arabia, women have gained the right to vote, drive, travel without a man’s permission, and more.
In the UAE, a record number of women ran in the recent Federal National Council (FNC) elections. A record number of women are also enrolled in higher education throughout the region.
AT A GLANCE: SOME OF THE RIGHTS IN THE ARAB CHARTER ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS
– The right to higher education
– The right to health care
– The right to employment opportunities
– The right to free health care for new mothers
– The right to marry foreigners
– The right for Arab women to pass their citizenship on to their children
– The right for Arab women to restore their nationality in case of divorce or death of a spouse