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    ICESCO Calls for Strengthening Women’s Capacities and Invites International Organizations to Proclaim 2021 Year for Women

    12 November 2020

    The Director-General (DG) of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), Dr. Salim M. Al-Malik, called on all international organizations and associations interested in women and girls’ affairs to join ICESCO’s call to declare 2021 a year for women. The step is in recognition of women’s efforts in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, diseases, and violence.

    The DG stressed that ICESCO counts members and partners from outside the Islamic world and strives to build bridges of communication between people from different continents, countries, religions, and cultures.

    The statement came during the DG’s speech at the “First Forum on Women, Faith and Diplomacy: Preserving Faith and Changing Tomorrow.” The “Religions for Peace” organization held the event on november 10, in partnership with the Foundation of “Peace Dialogue of the World Religions and Civil Society” and with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    The Forum brought together António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor; and many representatives of specialized international organizations and officials.

    In his address, Dr. AlMalik pointed out that the responsibility for giving a free rein to women’s potentials rests with the international community, as women are the school of peace, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue. He stated that ICESCO is working, as part of its new vision, toward turning girls and women into makers of change and a lever for building healthy, peaceful, prosperous, and strong societies out of the belief that the hands of women are capable of shaping the future of harmonious and inclusive societies.

    Dr. AlMalik stressed the need to empower women and girls, ensure their protection, and give them access to the right to education. The DG particularly focused on women and girls who suffer from vulnerability and deprivation due to conflicts and crises to achieve social cohesion and development. ICESCO’s DG noted the crucial role that Muslim women have played in the development of science, citing the example of Fatima al-Fihriya, known as “Umm Al-Banin,” who established in 859 AD, Al-Qarawiyyin University in Fez in Morocco, which according to UNESCO is the oldest university in history. He stated that working women contribute more than a trillion US dollars to the global economy. In the Middle East, women’s participation in the workforce will reach a record rate by 2025, which will increase the region’s GDP by 47%, according to McKinsey estimates, continued the DG.

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