As millions of girls worldwide are subjected to practices that harm them physically and emotionally, with the knowledge of their families, Omani women work in good economic conditions at par with men in terms of work, production, and opportunities, according to the State of World Population 2020 report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Asr Ahmed Toson, representative from the UNFPA sub-regional office for GCC, said, “Women in Oman in recent years have taken on an increasingly important role in the country in terms of economic activity, participation in government, and, more broadly, across society as a whole.”
“Adolescent girls can access education even in areas out of the capital and receive education as their male peers. From 2003 through 2013, the number of Omani women employed in the public sector more than doubled, according to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), while the number of women working in the private sector tripled over the same period. Similarly, in the last few years, females have held many top positions in business and government,” he added.
According to a study conducted by UNFPA, GCC nations and the Ministry of Social Development, Oman, titled ‘Comparative study between national legislations and Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) provisions’, it was found out that there is a match between the CEDAW stipulations and national laws related to women rights in the country.
“These laws enacted a proper age for marriage for girls and gave them the liberty to choose their own husband,” Toson said. Talking about Omani women and the economy, he added, “Women work in good economic conditions, at par with men in terms of work, production and opportunities. Omani women are also able to carry out political work through roles such as membership in the Council of Ministers and the Council of Oman. This unique condition is accompanied by the development of women’s social status. The role of women, as an educated and working class, has assumed significance at all levels.”
He added that Omani women have achieved many of their ambitions, but they must continue to respond to the issues and challenges facing them to ensure that women’s experiences are reflected in all aspects of society.
Worldwide, urgent and accelerated action is needed to stop practices that harm women and girls. “Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem.
Decades of experience and research show that bottom-up, grassroots approaches are better in bringing change. “We must tackle the problem by tackling the root causes, especially gender-biased norms. We must do a better job of supporting communities’ own efforts to understand the toll these practices are taking on girls and the benefits that accrue to the whole of society by stopping them,” Dr Kanem says.
Economies and the legal systems that support them must be restructured to guarantee every woman equal opportunities, the report adds. Changing rules for property inheritance, for example, can eliminate a powerful incentive for families to favour sons over daughters and help to eliminate child marriage.
However, the situation in Oman is great. “In Oman, we have worked hand in hand with the Ministry of Health to tackle the problems of women. During the COVID-19 situation, the main problem that women experienced was anxiety, especially pregnant women. However, we have worked with the ministry to launch the hotline to help provide comfort to them during this crisis. I am happy to say that many have benefited and we will use Oman as an example to launch such services in other countries,” Toson said.
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