A report by the United Nations (UN) has found that the current state of women’s disempowerment in Arab countries is a hindrance to the success and prosperity of Arab countries as a whole. The Arab Human Development Report calls for guarantees of lifelong protection from physical and mental abuse and the end of female illiteracy in Arab states by 2015, reports Reuters. While Arab women have equal status under international law, they are not encouraged to develop their talents and abilities as equal partners with men, according to the UN press release. The report also argues that social, political, and economic factors hinder equal access to job opportunities, healthcare, and education for women.
The report notes that some Arab states have made progressive changes for women, yet too many barriers still impede women from being equal to men. “Human development requires more than economic growth alone. The fight against poverty is not a campaign of charity” it is a mission of empowerment. This is especially true as regards women, given that, of the world’s one billion poorest people, three-fifths are women and girls,” UN Development Program Administrator Kemal Dervis said. “Full participation and empowerment of women, as citizens, as producers, as mothers and sisters, will be a source of strength for Arab nations and will allow the Arab world to reach greater prosperity, greater influence and higher levels of human development.”