Press Release

Commission on Status of Women

Forty-sixth Session

16th Meeting*(AM)



The Commission on the Status of Women concluded its forty-sixth session this morning and approved by consensus a revised resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, which urges the transitional government of Afghanistan to undertake a series of steps aimed at improving the quality of life for Afghan women and girls.  The Commission also adopted the report of its session. 

The Commission adjourned its annual session on 15 March with the adoption of agreed conclusions on poverty and natural disasters, the main themes of its session, but had been unable to adopt the Afghan text by the deadline set by the Secretariat. The United States-led text (document E/CN.6/2002/L.4/Rev.2), submitted for the fourth consecutive year and recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council, also encourages the United Nations and its agencies to undertake similar steps.

Specifically, the resolution urges the Afghan Interim Authority and future Afghan Transitional Authority to:  fully respect the equal human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls in accordance with international human rights law; give high priority to the issue of ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and consider signing its Optional Protocol, which gives individuals the right to bring their concerns to the Convention’s monitoring body.

The transitional Government would also be urged to:  repeal all legislative and other measures that discriminate against women and girls, as well as those that impeded the realization of their human rights and fundamental freedoms; enable the full, equal, and effective participation of women and girls in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life throughout the country at all levels; and ensure the equal rights of women and girls to education.

Among its other provisions, the transitional Government would be asked to respect the right of women to work and of women and girls to security.  It would also urge the Government to bring to justice those responsible for violence against women and girls, protect their right to freedom and movement, and respect their equal access to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.


*     The 15th meeting was closed.

The United Nations and its agencies would be encouraged to, among others:  fully support the Afghan Interim Authority and the future Afghan Transitional Authority regarding women’s participation; support ministries to help develop their capacity to mainstream a gender perspective; support capacity-building for Afghan women to enable them to participate fully in all sectors; provide assistance so that the judicial system has the capacity to adhere to international human rights standards; develop and implement a programme of human rights education; and support measures to hold accountable those responsible for gross violations of women’s human rights.

The United Nations system, international and non-governmental organizations and multilateral and bilateral donors would be invited to, among other things:  ensure a human-rights based approach and gender-mainstreaming in all programmes and operations; develop comprehensive and coherent gender policy and programmes; and ensure the full and effective participation of Afghan women in all stages of humanitarian assistance, recovery, reconstruction and development.

Speaking before the consensus adoption of the text, the United States representative noted that her delegation had sponsored the draft for a number of years and was deeply committed to the welfare of the Afghan people.  The resolution was very strong and it was very important to send a unified consensus statement to the women and girls of Afghanistan.  She thanked the many negotiating partners who had helped make the text a very positive and strong statement. 

She then proposed two amendments.  The first was to replace preambular paragraphs one and two with the preambular paragraph one from last year’s resolution on that topic, by which the text would be guided by a number of existing declarations and treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The second amendment concerned operative paragraph 4 b, which would urge the transitional Government to:  give high priority to the issue of ratification of the anti-discrimination Convention and consider signing and ratifying its Optional Protocol.

The following countries joined as co-sponsors:  Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Republic of Korea, Peru, Japan, Guatemala, Turkey, Tunisia, Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Guyana, Senegal, Czech Republic, Slovenia, New Zealand, Norway, Venezuela, Slovakia, and Mexico.

Following adoption of the text, the representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was fully committed to Afghanistan’s reconstruction.  It was the major donor of humanitarian aid to the country and, from the outset, had declared its support for the reconstruction effort, as well

as for the improvement of the status of women.  New opportunities for women to claim their rights were opening up for the first time in many years.  The resolution just approved had directly addressed the Interim Administration in Afghanistan and made it clear that peace and development would not be possible without the full participation of women.

On another matter, the Commission decided to transmit to the Economic and Social Council conference room paper describing the policy recommendations emanating from the Fourth World Conference on Women and the twenty-third session of the General Assembly as a contribution to the Council’s high-level segment on “The contribution of human resources development, including in the areas of health and education, to the process of development”. 

Also during the meeting, Lala Ibrahimova (Azerbaijan) was elected as the remaining Vice-Chairperson.  She will also serve as Rapporteur.

In closing remarks, Chairman Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), said the positive and enriching contributions of all delegations had allowed the Commission to adopt important agreed documents that would serve as reference points.  He also thanked the non-governmental organizations for their inputs to the debate and for their commitment to the promotion of women. 

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