Marrakech, 24 March 2002:   UNDP/UN-DESA launched  the first African/Asian Parliamentarian Forum on Human Security and Gender.


The African/Asian Parliamentarian Forum on Human Security and Gender - "The Role of the Legislature” was opened today in Marrakech, Morocco. The first of its kind, the Forum is organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Division for the Advancement of Women (UN/DESA/DAW). Members of Parliament from 28 African and Asian countries, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, UNIFEM and regional organisations – Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics, CAPWIP, Southern African Development Community (SADC) are taking part in this high level event.


The three-day Forum is organized in collaboration with the Moroccan Parliament and the Ministry in charge of the Promotion of Women and Protection of the Family and Childhood and Integration of Handicapped, and in close cooperation with the UNDP Country Office in Morocco. The initiative is funded by the Japanese Government through the Japan Women in Development (JWID) Fund in UNDP.


The Forum aims to discuss the role of parliamentarians and the opportunities and challenges they face in promoting gender equality in the context of human security. The Forum offers an opportunity to exchange experiences, lessons learned and good practices to strengthen existing South/South parliamentarian networks and promote further knowledge networking among members of parliament in support of their efforts to mainstream gender issues in the legislature.


The Forum in Morocco represents the first phase of the project, while the second phase entails the organization of another meeting in India later in 2002.  The outcomes of both meetings will provide substantive inputs to the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) scheduled for 2003.  This activity will also contribute to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, in particular Agenda Item G (women in power and decision-making and gender equality).  In addition, the Forum represents a follow-up to emerging issues and recommendations contained in the Outcome Document adopted at the UN Twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (June 2000).


The opening ceremony was inaugurated by the President of the Chamber of Representatives, the Honourable Abdel Ouahed Radi, and Ms. Nouzha Chekrouni, the Minister in charge of the Promotion of Women and Protection of the Family and Childhood and Integration of Handicapped. This ceremony was also attended by M. Anders B. Johnsson, the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parlimentarian Union. It was chaired by Ms. Dasa Silovic, Gender Advisor, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP, who stressed that “ UNDP supports the creation of policy frameworks which incorporate women’s human rights. We work with the judiciary to promote women’s access to justice. We support parliamentarians and government institutions to mainstream gender equality, to promote women’s land rights and their participation in governance institutions at all levels.” 


The President of the Chamber of Representatives, the honourable Abdel Ouahed Radi greeted the participants on behalf of the Morrocan Parliament. In his opening address, M. Radi said “The parliament plays a crucial role in the reinforcement of gender equality and the struggle against domestic violence..”


In her statement, the Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), Ms. Carolyn Hannan, read by Ms. Fatiha Serour, Chief of the Gender Advisory Services, DAW, stressed the critical role of parliamentarians in the promotion of human security for both women and men. She added that the forum provides participants with an opportunity to assess in greater depth the gender dimension of human security and to develop practical recommendations at both policy and programme levels.


Mr. Olivier Ranaivandrambola, speaking on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, pointed out that the UN has, in the elaboration of the second UNDAF 2000-2006, continued to  give utmost importance to the status and the role of women across priority areas and will continue to support the work of inter-agency thematic group on gender equality.


In her keynote address, Ms. Nouzha Chekrouni, the Minister in charge of the Promotion of Women and Protection of the Family and Childhood and Integration of the Handicapped stressed that the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, in cooperation with the various components of civil society, and within the framework of a national strategy, is implementing large-scale reforms for a broader access of girls and women to education and literacy programmes, improved reproductive health-services,  poverty reduction policies, a national strategy to combat domestic violence and a national program to disseminate the culture of human rights in schools.


The Forum continued with substantive discussions on the two main themes, namely “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. The participants in the first plenary session raised the issues of  globalization, poverty reduction, corruption,  domestic violence, trafficking and organised crime.