Rabat Call for Support: Equality without Reservation

We, representatives of women’s and human rights NGOs in the Arab countries, meeting in Rabat on 8-10 June 2006, decided to launch a regional campaign under the slogan “Equality without Reservation”. The campaign aims to urge Arab countries to withdraw reservations to the international Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and ratify its Optional Protocol.

The Arab World is a wide region containing enormous human and economic resources, and varied cultural resources that has greatly enriched the common human heritage.

At the same time, however, the Arab region is suffering from the greatest disparities between men and women regarding their enjoyment of human rights, persisting legal discrimination against women, and serious violations of their human rights.

• Out of 21 Arab countries 18 countries have ratified CEDAW, but these ratifications have been accompanied by serious reservations that contradict the very purpose of the Convention, particularly its principle of equality and non-discrimination between men and women.

• These countries have not harmonized their national legislation to comply with the CEDAW convention,.

• With only one exception, none of the countries in the Arab region have ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

Hence:
We call upon Governments of the region to establish equality between men and women in dignity and civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and guarantee full citizenship for women through:

1- Withdrawing all reservations to CEDAW, and take appropriates to harmonize national legislations with CEDAW’s provisions

2- Ratifying the Optional Protocol of CEDAW, as a necessary tool for monitoring and addressing individual and collective violations of women’s rights, and combating violence against women.

We call upon all progressive forces in our region and all over the world to support this campaign at the regional and national levels, so that we can achieve our common goal: substantive equality between men and women without reservation.

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