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Saturday, February 4, 2023
Johannesburg , Feb 28 2022 (IPS) - A crucial two-day meeting of Parliamentarians from the Asian, Arab and African regions will put human-rights-based legislative frameworks under the spotlight as the regions work to implement the ICPD Programme of Action.
In the first part of this series, IPS spoke exclusively to the Regional Director of UNFPA ASRO, Dr Luay Shabaneh. He outlined the many responses the UNFPA had to gender-based violence, child marriage, and eradicating female genital mutilation in the Arab region.
In part 2, IPS spoke to Dr Rida Khawaldeh, MP Jordan, and Larry Younquoi, MP Liberia, Member of Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA).
Here are excerpts from the interviews:
IPS: How are parliamentarians in your country ensuring adequate laws to protect women?
Dr Rida Khawaldeh, MP Jordan
There is a Women’s Rights Committee at parliament and is considered one of the major and most influential committees. It includes specialists and lawyers, and they are acutely aware of developing a legal framework to protect women’s rights.
Larry Younquoi, MP Liberia, Member of Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA)
The Liberian Legislature has taken a number of steps to ensure there are adequate laws to protect women’s rights. For instance, the body has passed the devolution law, which provides enhanced women’s land rights. Women are guaranteed equal participation through the amendment of the electoral acts.
IPS: How are parliamentarians in your country ensuring the justice system (from the police to the courts) are adequately sensitized to GBV and have the budgets to ensure that perpetrators are charged, and women supported adequately?
Khawaldeh: The Legal Committee is one of the parliament’s major committees in Jordan, and specialists on this committee ensure the law, regulations, and practices are sound and supportive of women.
Younquoi: Parliamentarians in my country are on record for fighting against GBV. For instance, she has passed laws to amend the Gender Ministry Law and strengthened its role in protecting women and girls from GBV. Equally, the lawmakers have passed a law to establish the Women and Children Unit at the National Police. Of course, they ensure adequate budgetary appropriations for implementing the regulations.
The provisions of the Rape Law also criminalize sexual relationships with girls below 18 years of age. The Legislature has made rape a non-bailable crime. Through the National Budget, it provides funding allocations to enhance the welfare of the girls while in school.
IPS: As parliamentarians, what programmes are you putting in place to ensure that child marriages are eradicated?
Khawaldeh: Women Rights Committee ensures that the laws conform to good marriage practices. This issue is emphasized by both the Women’s Rights Committee and the Legal Committee to provide better protection and follow up on the implementation of the legislation.
Younquoi: The Legislature has taken practical steps by not only raising the age of marriage to 18 years but making it a criminal offense to engage in sexual activities with girls under the age of 18. This is irrespective of whether or not the girl consents.
To ensure that the laws are implemented, legislators create awareness about them during town hall meetings with their constituents. They further sensitize them not to keep the issue of such statutory rape secret within the family. Additionally, they speak openly against early marriage.
IPS: How are parliamentarians in your country ensuring that the practice of FGM is being eradicated?
Khawaldeh: This issue is consistently raised and addressed by the Women’s Rights Committee to ensure better practices and eradicate any misuse of the regulations.
Younquoi: Legislators’ major step towards eradicating FGM is the passage of a law that states that no one should be forced to undergo FGM. The Legislature is contemplating passing a law to eliminate it. However, the practice is deeply rooted in the culture of the people – despite this, the legislators continue to persevere.
IPS: Is your country on track to achieve ICPD 2030 agenda, and if not, what is required to ensure that the country moves towards this objective?
Khawaldeh: Jordan’s Parliament is aware and working toward the ICPD 2030 agenda. The National Council for Family Affairs, in the Department of Family Affairs at the Police Directorate, civil societies organizations, and NGOs involved in family affairs and gender issues are working towards the ICPD25 PoA.
Hon. Larry Younquoi,
My country is on track to eradicate GVB by 2030, in line with ICPD25.
IPS: What is your expectation of the inter-regional meeting in Cairo?
Khawaldeh: I expect a thorough discussion of different aspects of human security. We will learn from the experiences of others. In addition, I would expect coordination at the regional level to help achieve the 2030 goals.
At the upcoming inter-regional meeting in Cairo, I expect a robust cross-fertilization of ideas and lessons learned from the various countries in attendance.
IPS UN Bureau Report
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