UN approved charter on ending violence against women: NCW chief

Mervat al-Tallawy, head of the National Council for Women (NCW) and the Egyptian official delegation which took part in the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, said the participating countries reached consensus over the final wording of the international agreement to end violence against women after four disputed articles were removed.

In a statement issued by NCW on Saturday, Tallawy explained that Egypt approved the charter on the condition that it should be implemented according to the legislation of each country and considering every society’s traditions.

By the end of the session, official delegations commended Egypt’s leading role in achieving international agreement, she said.

Tallawy also said that the document will be accredited by the UN General Assembly under the category of “moral obligation” to be implemented according to each country’s local affairs.

Talks over the charter have sparked controversy in Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood issued statement saying that the charter includes articles that do not conform to Islamic law, and that seek to eradicate Islamic morals and destroy the institution of the family.

The NCW described these claims as attempts to tarnish Egypt’s international image.

The Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement on Wednesday announcing its rejection of the UN charter saying it allows Muslim women to marry non-Muslims, condones homosexuality, cancels male trusteeship over women, strips men of the right to divorce, and provides equal inheritance rights for men and women. The statement was published on the websites of both the Muslim Brotherhood, and its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party.

The NCW, however, said that the articles that the Brotherhood are opposed to were not present in the draft that would be used in the closing session.

Essam Haddad, presidential adviser for foreign affairs, said on Friday that the presidency respects women’s rights, as laid out in the Constitution.

In a statement on Facebook, Haddad said that the participation of Pakinam al-Sharqawy, presidential assistant for political affairs, in the UN session held in New York represents Egypt’s interest in empowering women as a main partner in the society.

Haddad added that Sharqawy stressed in her speech at the opening session the need to fight all forms of violence against women, and expanding international cooperation to end this phenomenon, while also respecting the cultural identity of each society.

The Egyptian delegation, Haddad said, will continue to participate in negotiations over the final recommendations.

Haddad added that the presidency expressed its rejection of all forms of violence against women for whatever reason and that Egypt has a comprehensive strategy to address this violence, predating the revolution. This strategy includes medium- and long-term steps, Haddad said, as well as a draft anti-harassment draft law, soon to be reviewed by the Shura Council to discuss it. Haddadh said that the presidency will also launch a series of dialogues and workshops in addition to polls through which public policies could be drawn to reflect the priorities and ambitions of Egyptian women.

The presidency will develop a national plan that will empower women in the long-term and address the main causes of the marginalization of women, he said.
Haddad's comments come just days after the Muslim Brotherhood's statement laid out 10 reasons why Muslim countries should reject the declaration.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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