JOHANNESBURG, Feb 23 (IPS) – The post-COVID-19 period has been a crucial one for parliamentarians who have had their work cut out to ensure that issues that arose during the pandemic are addressed, particularly around the ICPD25 commitments and program of action for universal access to sexual and reproductive rights, gender-based violence and building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Across the world, progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 was affected by the pandemic.
As Dr. Samar Haddad, a former member of the Lebanese Parliament and Head of the Population Committee of the Lebanese Bar Association commented at a recent meeting of the Forum of the Arab Parliamentarians for Population and Development (FAPPD): “The main theme for this year is combating gender-based violence, which is a scourge from which the whole world suffers, and its rate has risen alarmingly in light of the economic crisis, bloody stability, war and displacement.”
IPS had the privilege of interviewing two members of parliament from the region on how they tackle GBV, youth empowerment and women’s participation in politics, society and the economy.
Here are edited excerpts from the interviews:
Pierre Bou Assi, MP from Lebanon
IPS:What legislation, budgets and monitoring frameworks exist or are planned to combat GBV in Lebanon?
Pierre Bou Assi (PA): Lebanon has launched a project to support protection and prevention systems to prevent gender-based violence within the framework of continuous efforts aimed at responding to social and economic challenges in Lebanon and aimed at strengthening prevention and monitoring mechanisms for sex. -based violence, and support the efforts made by the Directorate of Public Safety through the Division of Family and Youth Protection.
IPS: One of your speakers at a recent conference talked about rapid population growth, youth and high rates of urbanization. Young people are often affected by unemployment or low decent employment. What are parliamentarians doing to help young people ensure that the country can benefit from its demographic dividend?
P.A.: The youth is the pillar of the nation, its present and future, and the means and goal of development. They are the title of a strong society and its future, emphasizing that the conscious youth (educated and aware) armed with science and knowledge are more than capable of meeting today’s challenges and those most prepared to enter the future.
I would like to say that the Youth Committee of the Lebanese Parliament is working to develop a targeted and real strategy that includes advanced programs agreed by experts and active institutions in this field to consolidate the principles of citizenship, the rule of law and patriotism and empower youth politically and financially to achieve their potential and develop and expand their horizons.
In addition, we increase the participation of young people in public life by providing them with opportunities for practical training in legislative and regulatory institutions, and refine the personal skills of participants by informing them about the decision-making process of the Council.
IPS:Looking back at the situation with covid-19, most countries experienced two clear problems, an increase in GBV and its impact on children’s education. There was also a problem with high levels of violence experienced by children. Are parliamentarians concerned about the impact of covid on children and what programs have been implemented to support them?
P.A.: There is no doubt that Lebanon, like other countries in the world, was affected by the coronavirus pandemic in all aspects of life, including children and its impact on the quality of education, as well as the high level of violence that children were exposed to during that period, because I would like to take a look at the more positive side. We note a number of measures Lebanon took during the pandemic – which included the release of children who were incarcerated, strengthening or expanding social protection systems through cash assistance, and an overall reduction in levels of violence in conflict situations.
Hmoud Al-Yahyai, MP from Oman
Al-Yahyai spoke to IPS about the development of a human rights-based framework. The interview followed a meeting with the theme “Human rights and their relationship to the goals of sustainable development. The meeting was held by the Oman Parliamentary Committee for Population and Development in collaboration with the Oman National Commission for Human Rights, Forum of Arab Parliamentarians for Population. and Development (FAPPD) , and the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) on “Human Rights and Their Relationship to the Sustainable Development Goals.”
IPS: How is Oman working towards human rights-based legislation, and what role do parliamentarians play in ensuring implementation? What role does Oman Vision 2040 play in this?
Hmoud Al-Yahyai (SKIN): The Government of the Sultanate of Oman has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into national development strategies and plans and made them an important part of the components and axes of the long-term national development strategies known as Oman Vision 2040. The strategy is strengthened by broad societal participation in designing and implementing it and evaluates the plans and policies. And we, as parliamentarians, ensure, as stated in the voluntary national report, (to provide oversight of) the government’s commitment to achieving the goals of sustainable development, with its three dimensions, economic, social and environmental, within the specified time frame.
I commend the Sultanate of Oman’s efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals through multiple axes, including the pillars of sustainable development, implementation mechanisms, progress achieved and future directions for locating the sustainable development agenda in the short and medium term, and the corollary in Oman Vision 2040.
The Sultanate of Oman reviewed its first voluntary national report on sustainable development at UN headquarters as part of its participation in the work of the UN Economic and Social Council.
Sustainability is crucial for the Sultanate, stressing that development is not an end in itself, but aims to build up its population.
Future directions for localizing the SDGs in the short and medium term are represented on five axes, which include raising community awareness, localizing sustainable development, development partnerships, monitoring progress, and making evidence-based policy and institutional support.
The axes of sustainable development are human empowerment, a competitive knowledge economy, environmental resilience through commitment and prevention, and peace. These form the cornerstones of sustainable development through effective financing, local development and follow-up and evaluation.
Oman has adopted a coordinated package of social, economic and financial policies to achieve inclusive development based on a competitive and innovative economy. This is being worked on towards the Oman Vision 2040 and its implementation plans, through a set of programs and initiatives that seek to localize the development plan towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 and beyond.
IPS: What role do women play in your legislative framework, and do they play a role in ensuring, for example, SRHR rights?
SKIN: The Sultanate has taken many positive steps to sponsor women. The Sultanate’s policy to accelerate gender equality stems from the Sultan’s directives and his initiatives to appoint women to high positions, to feminize the titles of the positions when women fill them, and to give them political, economic and social rights.
Women receive support in
- Social field: through comprehensive social insurance and social security systems.
- Political field: through the appointment of women ministers, undersecretaries and ambassadors and in the prosecutorial field.
- Economic field: through labor and company law.
- The cultural area: through the system of education and grants.
There are many programs aimed at or dedicated to women. The government has begun to circulate and implement a program to support maternal and child care services at the national level to reduce morbidity and mortality by providing health care for women during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum and encouraging childbirth under medical supervision.
IPS: What is Oman’s performance in achieving SDG target 3.7 (sexual and reproductive health by 2030, ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning, information and education, and integrating reproductive health into national strategies)?
SKIN: In this regard, a sexual and reproductive health campaign was launched in the Sultanate due to its positive impact on public health and society. This campaign affirms that reproductive health services are an integral part of primary care and health security in the country and that it has long-term repercussions on health and social and economic health. Family planning is one of the most important of these services because, if not organized, it constitutes a social bomb that can hit anyone, citizen or official. Therefore, we must take proactive preventive measures.
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