Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom invited PHREB Founder to Stockholm

Invitation to a workshop on the need to reform national laws which discriminate against women, Stockholm October 3-4, 2016.

Dear Mr Alam,

I would like to invite you to Stockholm to be one of a select group of participants to attend a high-level workshop on discrimination against women.

The emphasis on women’s rights is, as you may know, one of the three pillars of the Swedish feminist foreign policy, along with women’s representation and access to resources. It is also a reflection of our ambition to be a leading voice for women’s rights, including within the scope of Agenda 2030.

I will personally host the workshop, which will take place in Stockholm at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 3–4 October 2016. The number of participants will be limited to approximately fifteen, which I hope will include female foreign ministers, legal experts, lawmakers, academics, civil society representatives and, not least, high-ranking global experts on women’s rights.

The workshop will demonstrate the effects of laws that discriminate against women in key areas, including marriage, divorce, custody of children, inheritance, property rights including land rights and access to credit. We will then highlight how laws – and weak law enforcement – tend to be rooted in social perceptions of women as inferior to men, due to prevailing gender stereotypes.

The workshop will also provide encouraging presentations on how discriminatory laws have been reformed, in my own country and in many other parts of the world, thereby strengthening women’s rights.
We will finish by discussing recommendations and an agenda for further action. The aim is to identify key measures that can motivate countries to reform national family law and other laws which remain key obstacles to women’s rights. This may include measures that stop states from adopting more discriminatory legislation.

The first part of the workshop will be a closed full-day session. The second part will be a morning session that is open to the public, including civil society and media.

In addition to the event, there will be opportunities for participants to meet with key actors in Sweden involved in addressing women’s rights nationally. More details on this will be provided later.

I am convinced that you, with your vast experience and skills, as well as your personal commitment in the area, can contribute to a successful and productive workshop. The work of PHREB, Promoting Human Rights and Education in Bangladesh, has demonstrated that it is possible to bring about change and to reform gender-based discriminatory laws, not least by involving religious leaders. Your participation in the workshop would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to welcoming you to the workshop and having the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with you on this crucial matter.


Margot Wallström


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