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Third Arab-China Women′s Forum
28 April, 2015

Translation of the Speech of HRH Princess Basma bint Talal
Third Arab-China Womens Forum
28 April 2015

It is a great honour to participate in the Third Arab-China Women′s Forum with this distinguished group of Arab and Chinese women, here in the United Arab Emirates, under the patronage of HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak.

On behalf of the Jordanian delegation here today, which includes Dr. Salma Nims, Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, and Senator May Abu Samen, I commend the great achievements of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima – making her a model to be emulated by all Arab women.

I also extend warmest greetings to our friends from the All-China Women′s Federation. We have had the opportunity to visit each other a number of times over the years, going back to 1995, when I visited in my capacity as the head of the Jordanian delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, then in 2005 to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the conference, along with various exchange visits between Jordan and China, and most recently, the Second Arab-China Women′s Summit held in Amman in 2013. These events have strengthened our friendship and dialogue, and revealed many issues of common interest to Chinese and Arab women.

The participation here today of UN Women and the Department of Family and Childhood at the Secretariat General of the Arab League  further demonstrates the status of the Arab-China Forum on a regional and international level.

As a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador since 1996, I would like to stress how important it is for us to work together. Especially now, while we are in the midst of a global dialogue on what new framework will follow the Millennium Development Goals, bearing in mind that the advancement of societies cannot be attained without the empowerment of women.

The basis for any improvement in the status of women should take into account the depth and breadth of the challenges facing women all over the world, such as poverty, illiteracy, inequity, and the vast discrepancy in living standards between urban and rural areas. Such differences create tensions and disputes, and widen the gap between the privileged and the deprived, the educated and uneducated, the strong and the weak.

We must pay serious attention to the report submitted this year by the UN Secretary General to the Commission on the Status of Women on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The report indicates that the world is still a long way away from the vision put forth by both documents. 

Two decades on from the momentum we witnessed in Beijing, it is no longer acceptable to move one step forward only to take another step back, or to face our challenges intermittently - rather we should be proactive. We must therefore respond to the Secretary General′s assessment with renewed vigor and commitment to enable us to reach the globally agreed target of "50-50 by 2030."

The years ahead should be transformative for gender parity in matters of justice, economic participation, and freedom from discrimination and violence for women and girls.  Such a pursuit is not a mere luxury, but essential to the achievement of progress and sustainable development. Particularly so in our region, added to the situation of armed conflict we are witnessing. We should exert all our efforts to alleviate the suffering that women and children are especially vulnerable to in a climate of violence—that is to say, the loss of life, destruction, displacement and the growing phenomena of human trafficking, rape and early marriage of girls.

Today′s forum is an expression of our collective belief in the fundamental human values of dignity, diversity, equality and justice. In that spirit, let me reassure you of our commitment at the Jordanian National Commission for Women, to remain closely in touch and involved with the General Women′s Union in the UAE, the All-China Women′s Federation, UN Women, and the Department of Family and Childhood at the Secretariat General of the Arab League in matters that impact the concerns and aspirations of women.

Your Highness Sheikha Fatima, I wish to express my deepest gratitude and thanks for hosting this significant event. Your reputation as a genuine and magnanimous supporter of Arab women and their causes is most deserved, as is the reputation of the leadership and people of the UAE. May God bless and reward you, and grant our countries and our people progress and prosperity.

I wish you all peace, and great success in our work ahead.