Our Perspective

      • Victims of female genital mutilation make harmful traditional practice a crime

        18 Jun 2014

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        ANTI-FGM MOBILE CARAVANS TO RAISE AWARENESS IN RURAL VILLAGES, EGYPT. PHOTO: UNDP EGYPT

        June 14th is the National Anti-FGM Day in honor of 12-year-old Bodour Shaker, from Minya, who died on the same date in 2007 as a victim of this inhumane practice. In June 2013, 13-year-old Soheir El Batea from Daqahalia suffered the same fate. As heartbreaking as these two tragedies are, their untimely deaths were not in vain: as a result of public mobilization, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) was criminalized by law in 2008 and the first criminal case is currently under prosecution, respectively. FGM is a grave violation of human rights and one of the worst forms of discrimination against girls and women. FGM has been a taboo for many years in Egypt. Its practice has been widely accepted due to conservative mindsets, particularly in rural areas, and poor socio-economic and public service conditions. While prevalence rates remain high namely among older women, response of younger girls and mothers of new generations to FGM Abandonment Campaigns is much higher.  Data from the Demographic and Health Survey suggest that some improvements occurred over the last two decades; in 2008 among women aged 15-17, the FGM/C prevalence rate was 74% compared to a prevalence of 95% among women aged 30-34.Read More

      • Development at the crossroads: Reflections from the Arab Region

        10 Jun 2014

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        Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp in the village of Zaatari, Jordan. photo: UNDP

        Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the Arab region and two aspects in particular are important for the region’s relationship with issues of development finance.  First, the expanding role of the region itself as a provider of official development assistance (ODA), with the Arab Gulf countries providing more than $3 billion to countries around the world each year - Saudi Arabia alone provided over $100 billion to almost 90 countries since the 1970s. While the volume of Arab ODA has attracted attention, important issues for the future will be a growing focus by Arab partners on development effectiveness, alignment with post-2015 priorities like sustainable access to energy and water, and applying social and environmental quality standards to manage risks in recipient countries.  Furthermore, while most Arab ODA has operated through bilateral cooperation channels and Arab multilateral platforms in the past, there are benefits to connectivity with other Southern donors. The centre of gravity in the global economy is shifting East at speed, and this means shifting lines of development cooperation as well.  Strategic alliances between Asian and Arab donors could be a powerful force for the common goal of supporting new development solutions in Africa, with both Arab and AsianRead More

      • Creating opportunities for Youth: The Way Forward for the Arab Region | Sima Bahous

        31 Mar 2014

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        Photo: UNDP Jordan

        This week the United Nations Development Programme is convening a forum in Tunis to launch a new global strategy that puts youth at the center of all the work we do around the world. Around the world today, young people are shaping social and economic development, challenging social norms and values, and building the foundation of the world’s future. The strategy is important because it allows us to better recognize and tap into that energy for the benefit of all. Titled Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future, the strategy is centered on the vision that when youth are informed, engaged and empowered to contribute to sustainable human development, families, communities and nations grow stronger and are better placed to withstand the challenges of the world today.    It was a special honor for me, as Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States of UNDP that UNDP launched the strategy in Tunisia, an Arab country which today stands in a powerful position at the crossroads of youth and development in the Arab world. Here more than three years ago youth took leading roles in one of the most remarkable transformations that the Arab region — or indeed the entire world—has ever seen.  Their courageRead More