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UFM: Women in the Mediterranean and Development - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Barcelona- More than 400 women from 40 Mediterranean and European countries met in Barcelona for two days as part of the third Women Forum entitled “Women of the Mediterranean: Development Incentive, Stability Polar” organized by the Union for the Mediterranean (UFM).

The two-day forum featured many keynotes addressed by a number of figures including the European Union’s High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini and the Jordanian Social Development Minister Wajih Azaizeh who focused on discussing successful experiences that can be adopted in this field.

These keynotes highlighted the role of Mediterranean women in the social and economic fields, their political contribution in confronting the extremist intellect, and the challenges they face.

In five sessions, participants tackled all the women-related topics including sustainable growth, empowerment, role in confronting fundamentalism and extremism and contribution to the labor market. The forum considered that women in the Mediterranean are full of intellect and energy that should be used in building a prosperous Mediterranean community.

All participants have agreed on the importance of women’s role in confronting terrorism through their roles as mothers and housewives. According to Mogherini, women should be offered opportunities of education and work so they can beat challenges like poverty, ignorance, violence and inequality.

For his part, Azaizeh said that challenges of women in the Arab World are bigger than those faced by their Western counterparts. The minister has called for more partnerships in the Mediterranean region to help Eastern women in reaching empowerment and spreading tolerance and culture of dialogue.

Maria Theresa Fernandez, Spanish activist in women’s rights field said that the first target is to solve the problem of domestic violence, while other participants called for economic empowerment to help women in achieving economic independence.

Participants also considered that the social and economic growth cannot be achieved while half of the community is marginalized.

In the forum’s conclusion keynote, Fathallah Sijilmassi, secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean stressed on the Union’s role in pushing women forward and

underscored other factors like youth enthusiasm, role of civil society and positive dialogue among different parties, which would contribute to fulfilling the set goals.