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To achieve gender equality

Feb 26,2015 - Last updated at Feb 26,2015

An important meeting on the role of Sharia in promoting gender equality has just been held in Amman, with participants calling for developing a legal framework that puts gender equality principles stipulated in Islamic law into practice.

Economic, social and political discrimination against women is not connected to Islam, said Prince Hassan in remarks at the meeting, delivered on his behalf by the executive director of West Asia and North Africa Institute, which organised the event.

“The physical and psychological abuses that women suffer, their social exclusion and the exploitation of their limited awareness of the law should never in any way be justified on the grounds of Islam,” the prince stressed.

What contributes to injustice towards women, in the region as well as in the world at large, is political instability and poverty.

As such, the way to go about remedying the problem is to empower women by disseminating knowledge of the law and legal tools, and putting these into practice.

Areas for priority intervention, then, said the prince, are technology, which can promote gender equality when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, and the media, which can support women opinion leaders.

While Islam “gave strength to women”, according to a former minister of social development and women’s affairs, and the history of Islamic civilisation has examples of women leaders in different sectors, in practice there are still cases of discrimination.

Early marriages, personal legal status, especially with regard to the right of women married to foreigners to pass their citizenship on to their children, polygamy, Article 308 of the Penal Code — by which rapists escape punishment if they marry their victims — come to mind as cases of discrimination, but these can be easy to fix if the political will exists.

Knowledge of one’s rights and defence of these rights through a scrupulous observance of the rule of law cannot fail to achieve justice.

The extent of gender discrimination in the Muslim and Arab worlds is gradually decreasing under the influence of international norms that more and more countries adhere to and adopt as national law.

Reservations on discriminatory legislation and practices are no longer viewed as legal.

The fact that a conference was held to discuss this very important subject is reassuring, giving hope that things are going in the right direction.

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