- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 10, 2006

RABAT, Morocco (Agence France-Presse) — Human rights groups yesterday called on Arab governments to lift their restrictions on a U.N. convention on outlawing discrimination against women.

About 200 delegates, mostly women, from 13 Arab states and Turkey, gathered in Rabat for a conference on the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The delegates at the meeting adopted a resolution calling on Arab states to adopt the law in full.

They criticized the practice of adopting the convention “with reserves that go against the principle of equality and nondiscrimination against women.”

The signatories complained that the Arab world had the worst record for “maintaining discrimination and the most glaring violations of women’s human rights.”

Libya is the only Arab state to have signed the convention in full, but 18 of 21 Arab states have signed the convention without the optional protocol. Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou said Thursday his country would sign the convention protocol.

All Middle Eastern and North African countries implemented the convention with restrictions, particularly on the sections that contradict Islamic Shariah law. These issues include inheritance, with women in many Islamic states at a disadvantage compared to men.

The conference in Rabat coincides with a Global Summit of Women held yesterday in Cairo, with the aim of breaking ingrained stereotypes of Muslim women.

The summit, informally known as “Davos for Women” — a reference to an annual global leaders’ meeting held in Switzerland — met for the second time in an Arab country. Morocco hosted the 2003 summit.

Summit President Irene Natividad said one of her main goals was to introduce a “more complex picture of the Arab woman.”

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