International Forum of Muslim women discusses their human rights

“Respect for personality is at the heart of equal opportunities and personal fulfillment of women in life, career and society,” Ella Pamfylova, Ombudsperson of the Russian Federation, stressed at the International Forum “Muslim Women: Human Rights in Today’s World” held recently in Kazan, capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. The region hosts the majority of Russia’s Muslim population.

The Forum, which was organized by the Tatarstan Ombudsperson with the support of Mr. Ryszard Komenda, OHCHR Senior Human Rights Adviser based in Moscow, Russia, and his team, brought together around a hundred government representatives, Russian Human Rights Commissioners, representatives of international organizations and civil society. Participants addressed a wide range of issues relating to the enjoyment of women’s rights in the Republic of Tatarstan and other regions of the Federation, including the North Caucasus.

Among many themes discussed during the Forum were ways for forming gender tolerance and for combating domestic violence; strengthening the position and role of women in society; and empowering them and protecting their rights and interests.

“Women’s rights are of fundamental importance to every society,” said Hulan Tsedev, Chief of the Europe and Central Asia Section at the UN Human Rights Office. “In many societies we see patterns of behavior indicative of a tenacious belief that women do not have full rights of free choice. Women's empowerment can unleash advances in economic, social and political development, and greater social freedom and well-being – to everyone’s benefit, including families and communities.”

Nahla Haidar, a member of the UN Committee that monitors States’ compliance with CEDAW, outlined common trends in discrimination against  women, including domestic and sexual violence, trafficking, forced marriage and harmful traditional practices; unequal participation in public  and economic life; and sexist stereotypes on women’s and men’s social roles and responsibilities.

She recalled that the principle of equality between women and men is fundamental to the enjoyment of the rights enumerated in the Convention, and encouraged raising awareness and building capacities of different players for its full implementation worldwide.  

Among the good practices of promoting and protecting human rights on the regional level was the Human Rights Strategy of the Republic of Tatarstan for a period of 2014-2018, presented by the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tatarstan. The Strategy was adopted by the Prime Minister of Tatarstan, assigning the principal role of monitoring its implementation to the Ombudsperson of Tatarstan. The document specifically refers to recommendations received from UN human rights mechanisms, as well as regional ones.  It also contains an Action Plan, comprising of 80 goals and activities, assigning responsible government entities, timelines, as well as indicators for implementation.  The OHCHR supported the process by sharing the international experience and good practices from its work at the field level.

The Forum’s participants suggested to the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan to create a regional mechanism for promotion of women’s participation, and to develop a regional program for women’s advancement. They also recommended introducing an assessment of the gender perspective of legal acts; special municipal and socioeconomic development programs; the creation of a permanent platform for resolving issues in the advancement of women; and to focus on protecting the rights of women with disabilities.

The Forum further underlined the necessity to enforce partnership among civil society, state authorities, business, and the media, to effectively realize the social programs devised for the advancement of families, children, and ensuring equality of women and men in practice.

18 November 2014

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