Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
ESCWA P.O. Box 11-8575, Riad El-Solh 1107 2812, Beirut, Lebanon
As the regional arm and voice of the United Nations in the Arab region, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) promotes the economic and social development of its Member States through regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration. ESCWA has a general mandate to carry out regional reviews of progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of international conferences and summits. The ESCWA Centre for Women (ECW) was established in 2003 to improve the status of women in the region by empowering them economically, socially and politically. ECW works very closely with National Women’s Machineries (NWMs) to assist them in promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality. This entails undertaking evidence-based research to inform the development of gender sensitive national policies, plans and programmes.
ESCWA’s work on violence against women is aligned with relevant international frameworks and is guided by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (especially Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality and Empowerment of All Women and Girls).
Regionally, the Muscat Declaration: Towards the Achievement of Gender Justice in the Arab Region (2016), formulated at the seventh session of the Committee on Women of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, also informs the work of ECW. The Muscat Declaration outlines gender justice as both a process and an outcome, taking into consideration relevant international frameworks and national initiatives.
Areas of Focus
The elimination of violence against women is a key priority area for ESCWA and guides the work of ECW.
Working within the Arab region, ECW’s work programme covers an extensive research, advocacy and capacity-building agenda on the following priority issues: Women, Peace and Security; Violence against Women; and Gender Justice, with the cross-cutting themes of gender mainstreaming and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
The eradication of violence against women is addressed in a holistic manner and from different angles by ECW. This approach is both comprehensive and contextual and involves extensive research, legal reform advocacy, policy development, and service provision development and augmentation. The Centre capitalizes on its location in and extensive knowledge of the region to bring in best practices at the national level through technical advisory work and capacity-building activities.
Women, Peace and Security: The Role of Institutions in Times of Peace and War in the Arab Region (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/1). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/women-peace-security-institutions-war-arab
Status of Arab Women: Violence against Women: What Is at Stake? (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/2). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/arab-women-report-violence-against-women
The State of Gender Justice in the Arab Region (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/4). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/state-gender-justice-arab-region
Policy Brief: Institutional Mechanisms for Gender Accountability in the Arab Region (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/TECHNICAL PAPER.3). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/institutional-mechanisms-gender-accountability
Estimating Costs of Marital Violence in the Arab Region: Operational Model (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/TECHNICAL PAPER.4). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/estimating-costs-marital-violence-operational-model
Policy Brief: Role of Women in Peacebuilding Processes (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/TECHNICAL PAPER.5). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/role-women-peacebuilding-processes
Enhancing the Role of Institutions in Achieving Gender Equality in the Arab Region: The Economic Cost of Violence against Women (E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/IG.1/5(Part III)). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/sites/www.unescwa.org/files/events/files/1700348e.pdf
Women in the Judiciary: A Stepping Stone towards Gender Justice (E/ESCWA/ECW/2018/BRIEF.1). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/women-judiciary-gender-justice-arab-countriesThe Due Diligence Standard, Violence against Women and Protection Orders in the Arab Region (E/ESCWA/ECW/2018/BRIEF.2). Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/publications/protection-orders-due-diligence
Gender Justice & the Law: Assessment of Laws Affecting Gender Equality in the Arab States Region. Available at: https://www.unescwa.org/events/gender-justice-and-law
ESCWA, in partnership with UN Women, UNDP and UNFPA, held a special online meeting with its Committee on Women on “Policy Responses to Protect Women and Girls from the Impact of COVID-19” on 23 April 2020.
ESCWA, in partnership with UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, and UNDP, delivered online training for the National Family Safety Programme (NFSP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on “Building and Delivering Effective Hotline Service Provision during the COVID-19 Pandemic” during May 2020.
ESCWA delivered an online workshop for the Republic of the Sudan entitled “Best Practices and Shared Experiences on Shelters for Women Survivors of Violence in the Republic of the Sudan” on 25-27 August 2020.
ESCWA, in cooperation with the Supreme Council for Family Affairs of Kuwait, organized a “Webinar Series on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the State of Kuwait” on 28-29 September and 13 October 2020.
ESCWA, in partnership with UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP and UNODC, coordinated and delivered a series of 12 webinars on Violence against Women and COVID-19 for the National Family Safety Programme (NFSP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from October-December 2020.
ESCWA, in partnership with UN Women, the League of Arab States and the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, organized a high level virtual meeting on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 on 4 November 2020.
ESCWA, in partnership with UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP and the League of Arab States, organized and facilitated webinar sessions on gender justice and the law designed to better inform members of the subcommittee on gender equality and SDGs on tools to examine and align national legislation with international frameworks, most notably CEDAW, Beijing Platform of Action and SDG target 5.1 on 8-10 December 2020.
ESCWA, in partnership with the Arab Women Organization, facilitated “Sub-regional Training Webinars on Reporting to the Committee on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)” on 12-16 January 2021.
ESCWA, with support from ABAAD, delivered an online workshop for the National Family Safety Programme (NFSP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on “Supporting Women between Empowerment and Rehabilitation: Different Approaches” during March 2021.
ESCWA delivered an online workshop for the Sultanate of Oman entitled “Technical support in the field of combating violence against women in the Sultanate of Oman: Ensuring a comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing violence against women through legal/policy frameworks and service provision” on 22-23 June 2021.
ESCWA, in partnership with UN Women and WHO, delivered an online workshop for representatives from National Women Machineries and other relevant stakeholders who provide services for survivors of violence on “Services to Protect Women Survivors of Violence the Arab Region” on 26-29 July 2021.
ESCWA, in partnership with the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, organized a youth arts competition for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2020 to address the theme “Life in Times of Emergency.” To accompany the competition, ESCWA ran a social media campaign throughout the 16 Days, which included facts about violence against women during different types of emergencies. The campaign closed with a panel of women’s rights activists from the region discussing different facets of activism during conflict, revolution and transition.
ESCWA provided an academic module on Gender Justice and Violence against Women in the Arab region to the MA programme on Gender Policies and Women's Rights course at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut.
ESCWA participated in several side events at the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2021. This included:
ESCWA, in partnership with the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, the Georgetown Institute for Women and Peace and Security (GIWPS), and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), held a regional Capacity Development Workshop on the Women, Peace, and Security Index on 19-26 January 2021.
ESCWA supported the Palestinian Ministry of Women’s Affairs in drafting a “Situation Analysis for the State of Palestine’s Violence against Women and Girls Response,” which aimed to inform the Ministry’s forthcoming Violence against Women Strategy.
ESCWA, in partnership with UNFPA, supported the National Council for Lebanese Women in developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) for the public and private sector to fully operationalize the “Law to Criminalize Sexual Harassment and [for] Rehabilitation of Its Victims.”
ESCWA delivered a workshop for the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Development and Family Equality in Morocco on “Costing the Implementation of the National Strategy on Combatting Violence against Women and Girls by 2030 in the Kingdom of Morocco” on 29-30 June 2021.
ESCWA supported the Jordanian National Commission for Women in evaluating Jordan’s National Action Plan (NAP) to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), on women, peace and security (JONAP-I (2018-2021)) to inform the design of JONAP-II.
ESCWA organizes annually an Arab Forum for Sustainable Development (AFSD) which bring together policy makers and regional stakeholders to discuss the various themes on the SDG agenda. The outcomes of the AFSD are then shared with the High-Level Political Forum. In April 2019, ESCWA in partnership with other United Nations agencies organized two sessions, which addressed among other issues violence against women. In addition, ESCWA partnered with National Women Machineries and other United nations agencies in organizing side events during the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2019. This included a side event with Jordan and Tunisia on “Adopting the SDGs to the Local Context” including Goal 5 and its targets on combating violence against women, a side event with the United Nations Population (UNFPA) on the “Guidelines to Estimate the Economic Cost of Domestic Violence in the Arab Region”, a side event with UN Women, the League of Arab States, the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW), the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) on “Women, Peace and Security National Action Plans on the Arab Region: Lebanon and Jordan”, and a side event with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and UNFPA on “Gender Justice and the Law: Implications of Inequality before the Law for Social Protection and Women’s Empowerment.
ESCWA, in partnership with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (IADC), has started the implementation of the project titled “Support to Women Refugees from Syria and Vulnerable Women and Girls in Host Communities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon” (2018-2020). The project seeks to engage women refugees from Syria and vulnerable women and girls in host communities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon to better advocate for their rights and exercise their voice to improve their status and reinforce their resilience. The two phases of the project in Jordan and Lebanon with women refugees from Syria and host community were completed as planned. Three position papers will be developed to be shared with decision-makers Jordan, Lebanon and Syria on the specific needs of women refugees, including the particular needs for protection from violence.
ESCWA finalized a study on the role of ICTs in achieving Goal 5. This includes the role of ICTs in addressing targets 5.2 and 5.3 focused on combating Violence against Women. The study includes a stock taking of existing initiatives in the region and good practices that are suitable for adaptation from the international to the regional context.
ESCWA, in partnership with UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, and the National University of Ireland, Galway, developed a model to cost the economic impact of child marriage in the Arab region. The model was further dev
ESCWA in partnership with the Irish mission in NY and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Palestine implemented the household survey which includes questions specifically aimed at collecting data pertaining to costing VAW in Palestine. Currently, data is being analyzed and the launch of the related study is planned to take place in 2020.
ESCWA, in partnership with the League of Arab States and UN Women, organized a regional workshop which brought together representatives of National Women Machineries, National Statistics Offices and National Human Rights Institutes in the Arab countries as key stakeholders to assist them in the process of the adaptation, implementation, and follow-up and review of SDG 5 at the national level. This workshop facilitated a dialogue on a consolidated vision to accelerate the achievement of SDG 5 using a human rights and evidence-based approach. It showcased the importance of using ICTs as a means to promote women’s rights including the right of a life free of violence and achieve SDG 5 and to support the means of implementation of other SDGs and related targets.
ESCWA participated in the 13th Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Gender Statistics (IAEG-GS) in the Arab Countries. The meeting brought together gender statisticians and experts from the international, regional and national institutions that are IAEG-GS members. The meeting took stock and provided feedback, from a gender perspective, on the methodological work being undertaken by UNSD and the Expert Group on Innovative and Effective Ways to Collect Time-Use Statistics, in line with international standards. It also discussed and reviewed the on-going work of the IAEG-GS Advisory Group on Strengthening Administrative Systems to Close Gender Data Gaps. Also, it reviewed on-going national, regional and global initiatives to improve evidence for gender-relevant policies, including the development and implementation of international methods and standards and discussed progress towards gender equality at the national, regional and global levels, in particular in the context of Beijing+25.
ESCWA organized a training workshop aimed at improving technical capabilities in using gender statistics to monitor SDG gender indicators and in disseminating, communicating and using statistics and indicators. The workshop assisted researchers in their efforts to mainstream gender into their national statistical system, which will result in improved availability and use of gender statistics at the national, regional and international levels for better evidence-based gender policies.S5
ESCWA, in partnership with UNDP, UNFPA, and UN WOMEN launched a new report entitled “Gender Justice & Equality Before the Law in the Arab States Region: A Regional Analysis of Progress and Challenges” that brings a unique regional lens to laws and law enforcement practices – examining social and economic contexts in which laws are made and pointing to examples of good practice from across the region to encourage exchanges of experience and ideas to advance gender justice. The report builds upon 18 country reports that partners produced, one year ago, under their joint Gender Justice Initiative and which highlighted successful legal provisions and identify gaps that countries can target to meet their international obligations and commitments.
ESCWA, in partnership with Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Coalition for Arab women Parliamentarians organized a regional workshop to support National Women Machineries and National Statistical Offices and women parliamentarian in the Arab region in their efforts to address violence against women. Discussion topics included methods of costing violence against women and the differences between them. This workshop also created a platform for participants to discuss the approach to cost VAW, and which dimension a country should focus on, which relates to several factors including availability of data.
ESCWA, also organized an advanced training workshop to present a training manual on estimating the cost of violence in partnership with Westminster Foundation for Democracy and UNFPA. The guidelines are intended for government officials, programme managers and researchers seeking to estimate the cost of Domestic Violence in the Arab region.
ESCWA drafted brief to better inform policy in member States on “Technology as a Tool to make Cities Safe and Combat Violence against Women”. This brief reviewed successful experiences in adopting laws to criminalize sexual violence and harassment of women in public spaces and discussed how some countries are utilizing technology, particularly Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to innovatively raise awareness and advocate for safe public spaces, report unsafe public spaces and track safety. The policy brief concludes with recommendations to Governments and relevant stakeholders in the Arab region on ways to use technology to address violence against women in public spaces and make cities safe for all.
ESCWA in partnership with Women against Violence Europe (WAVE), UNFPA and Abaad Resource Center for Gender Equality, examined shelter services in the Arab region. The publication: “Shelters for Women Survivors of Violence: Availability and Accessibility in the Arab Region” is based on a detailed questionnaire that was sent to providers of shelter services in the region and presents an analysis of the presence of shelters in the region, their number and geographic distribution as well as the services offered with them. The study concludes with a set of recommendations to ensure that shelter services are accessible and available for women survivors of violence. These included: 1) encouraging countries to expand the network of shelter services, 2) remove legal obstacles hindering women’s access to these services; 3) build the capacity of workers providing the services and 4) adhering to international standards in provision of shelters.
ESCWA also examined the provision of protection orders in the Arab region through a study “Beyond Boundaries: Utilizing Protection Orders to Cultivate a Holistic Response to Domestic Violence in the Arab Region” is based on a desk review on the availability of protection orders in existing legislation and an analysis on how whether these are in line with international standards such as the work of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women is Causes and Consequences, the General Recommendations of CEDAW and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. The study concludes with summarizing the importance of a holistic, comprehensive and coordinated response to violence against women where states must facilitate access to civil and criminal protection orders for women survivors of violence.
To further the production of knowledge and policy recommendations for decision-makers, ESCWA published a policy brief on “The Due Diligence Standard, Violence against Women and Protection Orders in the Arab Region” that discusses protection orders as a part of the international framework on due diligence. It builds on the work of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women is Causes and Consequences that elaborate on the role of the state to prevent, protect, prosecute, punish and provide reparation in relation to domestic violence.