Stockholm’s Women Conference Report

By Organizers

The Stockholm women conference that was held on 25th November 2006 with the objectives of informing and enlightening the problems facing women in African countries in general and Eritrea in particular under the theme, “ Democracy and women’s rights in Africa.” was attended by many concerned Eritrean and other African citizens.

Throughout the world today, the rights of women have been in focus and protecting these rights is the responsibility of both men and women. The barriers come from the existing social, cultural, institutional and organisational systems.

The conference was moderated by Miss Sumeja Atta and Lamia Saleh. Miss Sumeja welcomed the invited guests and participants. In their opening speech, Mrs Lamia  briefed about the Eritrean dialogue forum- its formation , objectives and work programmes. Miss Sumeja has introduced the guests and the program of the conference.

Thereafter, the floor was allowed to be taken by the speakers. The first speaker was Mr. Gimbot Abraha from Amnesty international –Sweden section. Gimbot is one of the founders of the Eritrean Asylum seekers association , later called Eritreans for democracy and human rights.

Mr. Gimbot Abraha started his presentation by defining the problems related with human rights violations in the world. His analysis focused on three topics

–         History of the human rights and democracy

–         Situation of human rights in Eritrea

–         Women’s rights in Eritrea

In his discussion on the historical development of human rights, he emphasised the 17th and 18th century European philosophers , most notably John Lock and the different laws and codes of the international society. He further analysed the revolutions of USA in 1776 and the French revolution in 1789 that contributed a lot on human rights and freedoms.

He has taken the Universal Human rights declarations , their meanings and implementation. On human rights legislation, he has further explained the various conventions adopted, their importance and implementation by the signatory states.

On the situation of human rights in Eritrea,  Gimbot has elaborated the inhumane and criminal abuses of human rights by the dictatorial regime in Eritrea. What the regime does in Eritrea is contradictory with all international and national human rights laws. There are all kinds violences/ abuses under the pretext of national sovereignty and security.

On the situation of women’s rights, he brought the military camp of Sawa and the regulations that oppress the young girls to be sexual objects for the military officers. There are many military camps where the young girls are kept as concubines of the officers stressed, Gimbot.  

Finally, warned Gimbot that Eritrean women is more at risk than her partner and this risk affects the entire Eritrean society in the future.

The Second speaker was, Mrs  Marie Louis Asker- Amnesty International Nigeria

 She presented her paper based on field activities in Nigeria. In her analysis, she has divided Nigeria into two regions–the southern and the northern. In the northern, the sharia law and human rights regarding the women’s rights are not just and fair. Thus the women are mostly discriminated.

 In the southern region, the methods dealing with human rights are not also are not recommendable, because of corruption and nepotism.

She has taken the rights of women in all fields of life specially health, education and employment.

Nigeria has signed various international conventions and agreements that prohibit human rights violations against its citizens including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Finally, Marie has taken the women trafficking to oil rich countries and the poverty that strikes the women while Nigeria was rich in natural resources. “Violence against women exists also in the developed countries, added Marie.

The third and last speaker was Miss. Neshwa Mohammed Idris from Khartoum- Hariret organization for women promotion and development

Neshwa presented her paper by giving a short description about the women’s role during the liberation period and the responsibility of the women at home and other public affairs. The women in Eritrea living in the rural areas has been serving the front with all essential needs of life without the women the liberation struggle could not have succeeded. With her all participation, the women has not given the power of decision making during the liberation period.

 In her second part of her paper, she asked what has happened to the women after independence and analysed the situation of the women specially the young girls at the age of education, she has brought statistical data and compared the life of the women in the rural areas with that of urban. Her analysis focused on:

–         education

–         health

–         employment

Women are systematically discriminated in Eritrea.  They don’t have access to the means of livelihood and social security because of wrong policies of the current regime in Eritrea.

Finally, Neshwa has stressed  the root causes of the new refugees in Sudan and what the young girls face in the towns of Sudan and what the others in diaspora can do to help them.


Panel discussion

The panel discussion was led by Lamia.  Lamia briefed on her experiences and studies on Kenya about population movement from rural to urban and further immigration to other countries asked the panellist how the rights of women in Sudan.  Most of the questions were on the problems women facing to get access to the means of their livelihood on their fundamental rights. The panellists stressed mostly how are going to solve these problems. The human rights situation in Eritrea is in crisis. To bring sustainable peace in Eritrea, the discussion focused on the following factors:

–         Create confidence on the people that they are the only who can solve their problems.

–         Build confidence between the various and divided political organizations to promote human rights in Eritrea.

–         Bridge the differences between the Eritrean people divided by religion, ethnicity and region, if there is no peace there is no protection of human rights and development.

Panellists confirmed that the major challenges are the flow of refugees and their safety in Sudan at this time of normalization of relations of the government of Sudan with the dictatorial regime in Eritrea.

The public asked questions and comments among others the unjust treatment of refugees in Sudan by the government officials and others. Comments were directed to the Eritrean political opposition that can do nothing for the civil society. Most of the participants have taken also that the responsibility lies not only on the political organizations but the civil society in the western world must help the refugees in Sudan and Ethiopia.

The whole day conference was concluded by Lamia and Sumeja by thanking to the panellists and the participants.

Participants mostly of them young girls highly educated contributed at the discussion panel and reaffirmed that they need more such meetings in the future on the human rights and democracy.

   Conference organizers

Eritrean dialogue forum


27 Nov 2006

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