The Commission on the Status of Women Preparatory Arab States Session was held on 2 March 2018 in Tunis, Tunisia. It was attended by Iman Pertek (Gender Advisor) and Shahin Ashraf (Global Advocacy and Campaigns Advisor).

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year’s theme at CSW 62 is the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.

The session was attended by member states of the Arab League, UN agencies and civil society organisations. It was hosted by the Republic of Tunisia and co-organised by UN Women Regional Office for Arab States.

Islamic Relief Worldwide shared a set of recommendations which addressed violence and harmful practices against rural women and girls, including women and girls on the move (migration and armed conflict).

We urged the member states to:

  1. Recognise faith actors have great potential to influence attitudinal and behavioural change and include them in partnerships
  2. Recognise the disproportionate proportion of GBV against rural women and girls, including in the conflict context
  3. Recognise the needs of refugee and IDP women and girls to the mental health and psycho-social support, to mitigate exclusion and inequality
  4. Ensure affordable and accessible reproductive health services to all women and girls in all contexts
  5. Ensure inclusion of all women and girls (of all ages, abilities) throughout the CSW62 outcome document and to include intersectional data
  6. Interest free- financial services to all as strategic imperatives to addressing GBV and women’s empowerment.

Her Excellency Neziha Labidi (Minister of Women, Family and Children in Tunisia) touched upon “the importance of arriving to a united position ahead of the UN CSW62 sessions in New York.”

Inas Mekkawy (Director of Women, Family and Childhood) said “rural women are at the heart of global goals.”

UN Arab Women speech

Mohammed Naciri (Regional Director of UN Women Arab States) stated that “women in rural areas do not have the same access to markets as men, women face violence, harassment inside and outside the home. Women often cannot own land or inherit land equally with their counterparts.





Islamic Relief is committed to achieving gender justice throughout its work by pioneering initiatives supporting the sustainable development goals, in particular SDG5.

Iman Pertek (Gender Advisor) at Islamic Relief said “this platform is an important space for humanitarian and faith actors to inform the inter-governmental processes of the specific needs of rural women and girls of all ages and abilities in protection, inclusion, reproductive and mental health across contexts. It is our collective responsibility to achieve global commitments to achieve gender equality.”

Shahin Ashraf (Global Advocacy Advisor) stated that “over the last few years Islamic Relief has been key in advocating on issues around gender, particularly after the launch of its policy papers on Early Forced Marriage, Forced, Female Genital Mutilation, Domestic Abuse and with the process launch of the Gender Justice Declaration. Islamic Relief is playing an instrumental role on an  international level – in particular at the United Nations, its aim is to increase awareness and knowledge among policy makers of the specific challenges women face leading to the introduction and implementation of tailored policies and legislation.”

Islamic Relief will be hosting events at this year’s CSW in New York from 12 – 23 March, including the process of the launch of the first ever Gender Justice Declaration.