CAIRO (UMA-OIC) – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, together with the Women Development Organization, the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in New York, and the Islamic Development Bank organized a virtual side event on the margins of the 66th Session of the Commission on Status of Women of the United Nations in New York. The event discussed the issue of building the capacities of female refugees and internally displaced, in preparation for a joint program on the same topic.
Counsellor Fatma Alzahraa AbdelKawy, the Director for Program, Policies and Intergovernmental Support represented WDO and moderated the event. In her introductory remarks, she set the stage by providing a background on the prevalent issue of refugees with a specific focus on women, and highlighting the purpose of discussing the different aspects and processes of empowering and enhancing the resilience of refugee and displaced women and girls, through capacity-building programs, and most importantly, sharing the best practices that can further inform and enrich the conceptualization of future interventions.
She also seized the opportunity to present the WDO as the center of the gender equality architecture within the OIC system, which is focusing on empowering women and girls. She added that WDO would work towards bringing together resources and mandates for a greater impact, as well as building and stepping up diverse initiatives by different OIC entities when it comes to women’s empowerment.
H.E. Mr. Mohammed Alateeq, the Charge D’affaires of the Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, H.E Ambassador Tariq Bakheet, the Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian, Cultural and Social Affairs of the OIC General Secretariat, and Mr. Elmoiz Ismail Mahmoud, the Senior Fragility and Resilience Specialist, Resilience and Social Development Department in the Islamic Development Bank, recognized the plight, dire conditions, and vulnerabilities of displaced and refugee women resulting from protracted conflicts and crises. They also encouraged more partnerships, collective resolve, and coordinated action to support them and improve their lives both in camps and in host communities, as well as in their countries of origin if they eventually decide to return.
The key takeaways from the panelists include the need for more awareness-raising and advocacy, endorsing a more holistic approach to humanitarian relief through social protection support programs, skills development, and economic empowerment opportunities. They also agreed that it is critical to factor out social cohesion strategies through the empowerment of host communities, in order to avoid unrest that could ensue from refugee support projects.