Following weeks of tumult and protests in North Africa and the Middle East, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Republican from Maine, is leading her 16 female Senate colleagues in emphasizing the vital importance of women’s rights and political participation as leaders in North Africa and the Middle East. The 17 Senators are reaffirming their commitment to representative and responsive democratic governments that respect women’s rights and are calling on leaders in North Africa and the Middle East to include women when it comes to making decisions that will affect their lives.
Hopefully, the environment will be part of their peacemaking efforts. According to reports, while women have sacrificed and peacefully protested side by side with men in nations throughout North Africa and the Middle East, there are signs that women are increasingly being sidelined from the formation of new governments.
In Tunisia, according to press reports, only two women have been appointed to the transitional government and in Egypt, not a single woman has been appointed to the council in charge of revamping the constitution.
Senator Snowe and her colleagues believe it is vital that women be included in making choices that will affect their lives.
“Essential to the success and stability of any government is the equal voice and participation of women,” said Senator Snowe. “The spirit and devotion exemplified by women in North Africa and the Middle East – and the ongoing challenges they continue to face – is both an inspiration to us all and a reminder that discrimination and gender-based violence endures around the world. I honor their commitment to ensuring future generations enjoy the guaranteed equality and basic human rights for which they endeavor to this day and remain steadfast in my commitment to these universal liberties.”
“Women have played a vital role in the changes sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, and they deserve to have a voice in any new governments that emerge there,” she added. “For countries that are establishing new government structures, including women is an opportunity not only to empower them, but to strengthen their entire societies as a whole.”
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