By Francesca Merlo
The Forum, entitled "Hopes and challenges in a post-Covid era" focused on how the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated and increased the challenges women face around the globe, from vulnerable refugees to working mothers.
Include women in policy making
Opening the Virtual Forum, the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr, a trained economist, told participants that the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to set back economic development for women for the first time in 30 years, and that it is "essential to make money available to women" in order for them to develop their businesses and communities amid the pandemic. She also stressed the importance of putting nature at the forefront of the development agenda. "This is a time to work with women with specific policies, in all areas of social development," she said.
Executive Director of UN Women Mlambo Ngucka called for measures and policies to be passed specifically to support women; while Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, offered a concrete example implemented in her country: the decision made to allow mothers with children in grade six and below to work remotely from home.
Respect for the girl child
UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem discussed how important it is for girls to feel loved and appreciated. "The respect and value of women must start with the girl child, who must be encouraged to understand that she is the equal of everyone on the planet and that her aspirations are important," she said.
Ambassador Susan Esserman warned that criminal traffickers are using the parallel economic crisis to prey on and exploit those most desperate for income, housing, and security. She warned that they thrive off the vulnerabilities of those seeking refuge and a solution to their problems in any way possible.
The forum continued with remarks from the first female Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, Professor Azza Karam, and activist Latifa Ibn Ziaten, recently awarded the 2021 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.
Women in today’s world are strong, said Latifa Ibn Ziaten, but they need support. "I wish to create a centre to welcome young girls, as well as women who are facing hardship in order to provide them with the needed assistance," she said.
Without women there can be no fraternity
Higher Committee of Human Fraternity Secretary-General Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam closed the forum, saying Pope Francis, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and the members of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity have a firm conviction that without women, true human fraternity can never be translated into action.