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International Organization of Local Government – Empowering Women and Protecting Human Rights

International Organization

Gender equality is a fundamental human right, however, the world we live in presents a persistent barrier to women’s access to various opportunities and decision-making power. When viewed from a global perspective, women have fewer opportunities and rights for economic participation compared to men.

They have less access to higher education and face far greater safety and health risks in some areas therefore, it is critical for programs working for gender equality to protect women’s rights and provide them with opportunities to realize their full potential. This is also an important step that can help achieve a variety of international development objectives. Women’s empowerment can improve the health and productivity of their families, communities, and society as a whole. Moreover, laws should be enacted to protect and strengthen their rights in the face of crime, violence, and abuse. 

Even though human rights are a man-made invention without a natural foundation, it cannot be argued that humans have sought freedom and equality for centuries. In 1750 BC, laws were written in Ancient Babylon that included principles of justice and fairness. However, these ancient laws show that humans have an innate desire for freedom, equality, and protection. As a result, many organizations are working for the declaration of human rights which allows people to feel safer, happier, and freer. One such organization is named the International Organization of Local Government.

The International Organization of Local Government (IOLG) is an international non-governmental organization that encourages local citizens to implement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their community and region. IOLG supports and expands the role and influence of local governments around the world by highlighting the example of US leadership in local government to other countries and giving democratic local bodies a voice.

Since its inception, IOLG has worked to empower women by rallying for their benefit, increasing their participation in local government, and strengthening their capacity to participate in policymaking at the local level through education and networking opportunities.

In 2020, Dr. Ahlem Arfaoui, president of IOLG, was invited to speak at a United Nations conference on women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment in Africa, where she addressed the topic of African Women’s Challenges in front of representatives from the ministries of Liberia, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. In 2021, the Global Association of City and County Governments’ chief executive attended the Generation Equality Forum in Paris.

During the Commission on the Status of Women – 66 (CSW66), held in New York from March 14-25, 2022, IOLG played a prominent role. IOLG was present at all aspects of CSW66, advocating for a gender-responsive approach to disaster risk reduction and risk-informed development. It has accelerated the development of gender-responsive disaster risk reduction policies, strategies, and programs. These policies and programs gave women more influence in steering these initiatives.

IOLG has taken a keen interest in human rights protection as well. Dr. Ahlem Arfaoui, attended the third session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law on the topic “Equal access to justice for all: a necessary element of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights protection,” which took place from November 16 to November 17, 2021, at the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to Dr. Arfaoui, to be successful, democratic governance must focus on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedom. The organization mobilizes to benefit women and youth by promoting their role in local government and increasing their capacity in local government decision-making through training and providing a forum for them to share their political views and ideas. IOLG believes that if citizens take it as their responsibility to implement the SDGs in their community and region, only then society will have a realistic chance of completing the audacious task set by Agenda 2030. To motivate such a commitment, IOLG directs people to understand the multiple benefits that will result from a successful implementation of all SDGs for their own lives, their families and communities, nations, and humanity as a whole.

The efforts showcased by the International Organization of Local Government in empowering women and protecting human rights are truly inspirational and must be valued worldwide.

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