CAIRO: In an effort to pledge its support for the cause, the Arab League launched the State of the World Population Report for 2010, titled “From Conflict and Crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change,” from its headquarters last week.
“I’m happy to launch the State of the World Population this year from the headquarters of the Arab League and present it to the Arab public opinion in recognition of the great effort and a call to Arabs to benefit from it,” Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said.
“[The report] includes facts, information and a deep analysis of the situation of women and girls in Arab states and other countries suffering from conflicts and war, which is worth looking into and studying and this is what the Arab League will do,” he added.
The release of the State of World Population 2010, published by the United National Population Fund (UNFPA), coincides with the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325, the Security Council’s groundbreaking move against the abuse of women in conflict and their marginalization in peace-building.
“The report also points out to the reality of how women are rarely the cause of war but are affected by it,” said Moussa.
Present at the launch was Egyptian Minister of State for Family and Population Moshira Khattab who highlighted Egypt’s efforts towards women empowerment and eradicating sexism.
“Egypt is undergoing an economic crisis and climate change problems but the greatest obstacle to development it is facing is the population growth,” said Khattab.
She pointed out that the water and food crises, traffic, private tutoring, pollution and other problems in our society are all a result of the population growth and the way to combat this is by empowering women.
“Having equal opportunities to develop her talents will give her a good education which will lead to combating early marriage, having a lot of children and seeking health care, especially when she is pregnant which will decrease infant mortality rate,” Khattab explained.
“It’s a tough job and will take years until we feel its effect,” she noted.
For the first time, this year’s report is based on reports from the field in a sample of countries that have experienced conflict or disasters and are on the road to recovery, however rocky the path and uncertain the destination, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia, Uganda and Timor-Leste.
In addition, visits were conducted to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Jordan, where Iraqis have fled to escape violence and the extreme dislocation of war; and to Haiti, a country already in trouble before the devastating earthquake struck on Jan. 12.
The Secretary-General has also noted and appreciated how the UNFPA made a special section on Palestinian women under the title “Imprisoned at Home: Life under Occupation.”
The report includes the stories of women and men who benefited from strong friends, family and community. For example, a Palestinian woman left paralyzed by an airstrike that flattened her home. She was later saved by a local feminist who supported her through university, by fellow students who helped her navigate the campus and by professors willing to move their classes to more accessible floors in old buildings.
Adolescents are another sector at high risk, according to the report, as many had been conscripted into fighting with brutal militias and have to be coaxed back into civilian life. Girls and young women abducted into sex slavery come home broken in spirit and often with babies, only to find themselves shunned by family members.
With their education interrupted, neither the boys nor the girls of war have hope of finding work in societies where a “youth bulge” in the population and slow economic growth combine to produce high unemployment even among those whose lives have not been affected.
Moussa also announced during the event that the General Assembly of the Arab League is currently working on a regional strategy titled “Protection of the Arab Woman: Peace and Security,” in cooperation with the Arab Women Organization and the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
The strategy will focus on increasing the participation of women and her representation on all decision-making levels in organizations, international, regional and local bodies to prevent conflicts and help peace-making.