Women’s Conference Opens Today – Jordan

Sun, Jun 11, 2006


Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN) / Jordan Times

AMMAN – A three-day conference bringing together women leaders and activists from around the globe will open at the Dead Sea today.

The two main topics on the agenda for the event, held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania, are newborn mortality and girls’ education, according to Senator Laila Sharaf, the conference’s official spokesperson.

During an event on Thursday at the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA), a co-organiser of the conference, Sharaf cited statistics on girls’ education and infant mortality rates in Jordan.

According to the figures, the percentage of educated women in Jordan was 86 in 2000, while the percentage of girls attending secondary school was 99 per cent.

In the same year, the mortality rate during pregnancy was 41 out of every 100,000 cases, a result of “health carelessness on the part of the pregnant women,” Sharaf said. Around 70 per cent of newborn deaths occur in the infant’s first month, according to Sharaf, who attributed this problem to a lack of incubators.

The NCFA, established in September 2001, works to ensure the right policy environment to support the development of family protection and unity, and to identify and implement mechanisms for increased coordination between public institutions and civil society organisations working in the field of family affairs.

It also collects data and information, monitors and shares information on the well-being of children and families, and contributes to policy developments.

Also addressing Thursday’s press conference was Children’s Defence Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, who noted that worldwide, every minute a mother dies from childbirth, while every hour “60 newborn babies die from mostly preventable causes; and every three seconds a child under five dies.”

Edelman said more than 100 million children across the globe, of whom 55 per cent are females, do not attend school, the majority of them girls.

The Dead Sea conference, “Mobilising for Action,” will adopt three countries that suffer from these problems the most to help them overcome their obstacles, according to Edelman, who did not name these countries.

One outcome of the conference would be the establishment of an innovation fund that would allocate finances and resources to support women’s and children’s programmes around the world where such services are lacking but strongly needed, she added.

Women’s Learning Partnership President Mahnaz Afkhami pointed out another global weakness for women: Representation.

For example, Afkhami said, when 140 world leaders gathered in 2000 to draft the goals of the third millennium, there were only seven women leaders present.

“Women’s representation in political life worldwide is less than 14 per cent,” Afkhami added.

Queen Rania and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia will address the opening ceremony of the event, which is organised by the NCFA and the Children’s Defence Fund in the US.

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About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more

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