Women in Public Life

Gender, Law and Policy in the Middle East and North Africa

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Public institutions play a critical role in promoting gender-sensitive policies and gender equality more broadly, in the MENA region and around the world. Advancing gender balance in public institutions and public life more generally, including the judiciary, parliaments, and the political executive constitutes a major step towards gender-responsive policies and non-discrimination and serves as a key milestone in promoting gender equality. This report provides a comparative overview of the policies affecting women’s participation in public life across the MENA region. It examines the existing barriers to women’s access to public decision-making positions, and provides a cross-country assessment of current instruments and institutions to advance women’s empowerment in the MENA region. The report undertakes an analysis of the existing legal barriers for gender equality in public life, including with regard to political and economic rights, freedom of movement, labour law, family law, access to justice and gender-based violence and provides focused policy-recommendations to close legal and institutional gaps. The report has been prepared by the OECD, in partnership with Centre for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) and with the support of the Arab Administrative Development Organisation (ARADO) and covers the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.


Equality and judicial protection in family relations

This chapter examines the compliance of national legislation in MENA countries with key international standards in the area of family relations, nationality arrangements, physical integrity and access to justice. It argues that norms affecting women’s and men’s private arrangements have a strong impact on women’s participation in public life. The chapter contains four main sections: family law, physical integrity, nationality and access to justice. Each section highlights respective international benchmarks, trends in domestic legislation and compliance gaps in the MENA region. In the area of family law and nationality, the chapter provides an overview of the remaining legal discriminations which continue to hamper women’s equality with men. With regard to access to justice and gender-based violence, many countries recognise the outstanding issues and aim to address the remaining gaps through national reform agendas. Yet, further action is needed to enable equal access to justice and to eliminate violence against women, which appears to be on the rise following the recent uprisings in some countries in the region. The chapter concludes with policy options that could be undertaken by governments to address the remaining gaps.


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