S&D Euro MPs back women's empowerment in the Arab world

The Threshold of the Desert

S&D Euro MPs today discussed the living conditions of women in the Arab world with representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and from the Anna Lindh Foundation.

They hosted the Brussels première of the acclaimed documentary 'The Threshold of the Desert' in the presence of the director, Ramon Vila and with the testimony of the main star, Najat Aziz.

The 18-minute documentary, which was selected at the Cannes Film Festival, raises awareness about the capacity of women to drive development and social change in rural areas of the Arab world.

S&D Group vice-president Corina Creţu stated:

“I am very proud to host this première today, as it shows important and specific examples of how women have empowered themselves, sometimes with a great struggle, by setting up their own businesses and becoming economically independent. This self-empowerment takes place in a very isolated region and within a traditional religious society that predominantly confines women's roles and activities to the domestic sphere.”

S&D MEP Silvia Costa, who prepared the Parliamentary report on the situation of women in North Africa, explained:

“As we are now in a post-revolutionary context in this region, it is crucial that women continue to be leading figures in the process of democratisation and in forming governments, political parties, trade unions and civil organisations.

"In parallel, gender equality priorities, such as defending women’s employment and education, women’s participation in political and public life, combating violence against women and guaranteeing sexual and reproductive rights, should remain central on the renewed political agenda.

"This is even more crucial as these issues are interrelated. It is therefore clear that defending women’s rights will subsequently increase women’s economic and social independence, and thus have a positive effect on reducing violence against women."

S&D MEP and president of PES Women Zita Gurmai concluded:

“As we recalled in the common declaration adopted by the PES ministers for gender equality, the European Union can play a major role in co-operation and exchange programmes in the Euro-Mediterranean area by supporting women’s initiatives and ambitions through resources and development on social issues as well as entrepreneurship.

"As progressive women we will reinforce each other and fight for our common goals under the PES Women motto ‘the same rights, the same fight!'."