Al-Mahdi Institute at the UN Commission for the Status of Women

Following the 58th Session of UN Commission on the status of women (CSW) during 10th – 21st March 2014, Farhana Kapsi arrived at the al-Mahdi Institute with much to share.

‘A vibrant, informative and enriching couple of weeks!’ is how she described her visit to the United Nations.

The Al-Mahdi Institute had an opportunity to share their work and inform about the cutting edge research and outreach work the institute is engaged with to a diverse array of people from around the world. This facilitated the dissemination of findings of public discussions like “Exploring Extremism in Society”, to informing academia, civil societies and UN entities about the AMI Fiqhi (Islamic Law) Issues Workshop Series addressing the most relevant issues of the contemporary world pertaining Shariá law; including girl’s age of maturity and marriage.

This year’s priority theme for the CSW was “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.

There were hundreds of events organised by the NGOs, Civil Societies, Member State Delegations and the UN to raise awareness about the most heart throbbing issues faced by women and girls around the world.

A whole range of issues were discussed during these events ranging from equal access to education and employment to the specifics of transition from Primary to Secondary and Tertiary levels, the problems faced by girls getting to the schools in rural areas, fear of getting raped on the way and inappropriate sanitation facilities in schools.

The issue of child/forced marriage and FGM were discussed with a lot of passion not only by the civil society representatives of Afghanistan, Africa and Middle East but also found its roots in developed countries like UK and America.

War and conflict zones seemed to have suffered the most with regards to women’s and girl’s rights.

These issues were heart breaking but at the same time eye opening and alarming that in today’s so called civilized world women are still struggling against those uncivilized practices.

Farhana had an opportunity to speak at a faith centred event organised by “Progressio” which is an international development charity supporting poor and marginalized people, especially women, to empower themselves. The topic of this discussion was “What’s faith got to do with it?” Link:http://www.progressio.org.uk/blog/progressio-blog/whats-faith-got-do-it

This year, it was recognised that religious leaders have a major role to play in creating awareness about women’s rights and gender equality. Due to misinterpretation or patriarchal interpretation of religious texts, women have suffered a great deal in all religions throughout the world. It is time for just and good hearted religious leaders to speak out!

It was also identified that a lot more could be achieved if inter-faith communities came together as most of the problems were universal.

Men’s involvement in achieving gender justice and women’s rights is absolutely crucial and this need was greatly felt in this year’s CSW, UN Women’s initiative “He for She” stands as a testimony for this need.

The Al-Mahdi Institute will be hosting an official follow up meeting for the UK NGOs CSW Alliance and local communities to discuss the key learning from CSW 58, MDGs, Implementation of MDGs in UK, Preparing for CSW 59 and Beijing +20 on 14th May 2014.