WASHINGTON --Following weeks of tumult and protests in North Africa and the Middle East, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), along with her 16 female Senate colleagues, is acting to emphasize the vital importance of women’s rights and political participation as leaders in North Africa and the Middle East consider constitutional reforms and shape new governments.
In a resolution introduced today, March 28, 2011, the 17 Senators are reaffirming their commitment to representative and responsive democratic governments that respect women’s rights and are calling on leaders in North Africa and the Middle East to include women when it comes to making decisions that will affect their lives.
Along with Sen. Stabenow, lead sponsor Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Patty Murray (D-Washington), Barbara Boxer (D-California), Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Jeanne Shaheen (D- New Hampshire), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) have all joined in cosponsoring the resolution.
According to reports, while women have sacrificed and peacefully protested side by side with men in nations throughout North Africa and the Middle East, there are signs that women are increasingly being sidelined from the formation of new governments. In Tunisia, according to press reports, only two women have been appointed to the transitional government; and in Egypt, not a single woman has been appointed to the council in charge of revamping the constitution. Senator Stabenow and her colleagues believe it is vital that women be included in making choices that will affect their lives.
"The men and women of many nations in North Africa and the Middle East have banded together to oppose oppression and unrepresentative governments. New governments arising from these movements that do not foster the full participation of women are not truly representative and are not full departures from old regimes," said Senator Stabenow. "Women must have equal rights if new governments are to reflect the ideals of the movements that spawned them."
Senator Snowe noted the participation of women is essential to the success and stability of any government.
"The spirit and devotion exemplified by women in North Africa and the Middle East -- and the ongoing challenges they continue to face -- is both an inspiration to us all and a reminder that discrimination and gender-based violence endures around the world. I honor their commitment to ensuring future generations enjoy the guaranteed equality and basic human rights for which they endeavor to this day and remain steadfast in my commitment to these universal liberties," said Senator Snowe.