11/03/2002
Press Release
WOM/1331



Commission on Status of Women

Forty-sixth Session

9th Meeting (PM)


WOMEN’S COMMISSION HEARS INTRODUCTION OF DRAFT TEXTS CONCERNING AFGHANISTAN,


PALESTINE, HIV/AIDS, HOSTAGES, GENDER POLICIES


The Commission on the Status of Women this afternoon heard the introduction of five draft resolutions and one draft decision, including a United States-led text on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, and another, sponsored by the "Group of 77” developing countries and China, on assistance to Palestinian women.


Another text, on HIV/AIDS, called for stepped up efforts nationally, particularly in favour of women and young girls, in the worst-hit regions of Africa.  The others were on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts, mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system, and the election of the Bureau of the Commission.  The two-week session, due to conclude on Friday, has as its two themes the gender perspective in environmental management, and the eradication of poverty, including through women's empowerment. 


According to the revised text on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) would urge the Afghan Interim Administration to continue to make progress in ensuring the repeal of all legislative and other measures that discriminate against women and girls and impede the realization of all their human rights. 


Introducing that text, the United States representative said that, with the end of Taliban rule and the establishment of the Interim Authority, there was now a Government in Afghanistan committed to the education of both girls and boys and to the active participation of women in political and economic life.  At the present critical juncture, the international community should pledge its commitment to the women of Afghanistan.  Thus, her country had tabled the text.


Under a revised draft on Palestinian women, the ECOSOC would call upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process.  It would also call for tangible improvements in the difficult situation on the ground and living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.  It would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the relevant human rights declarations and treaties, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families. 


The representative of Venezuela, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced the revised draft saying that that was similar to last year’s text with two additional paragraphs.  The text reflected the deterioration of the situation


in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and noted that the occupation was the greatest obstacle to the advancement of Palestinian women, he said.


By terms of the other draft resolutions, the Commission would:  condemn violent acts against civilian women and children in areas of armed conflict and call for an effective response to such acts, including the immediate release of those taken hostage and imprisoned; call upon the international community, the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to intensify their support of national efforts against HIV/AIDS, particularly in favour of women and young girls, in the worst-hit regions of Africa; and welcome the Secretary-General’s report on measures taken and progress achieved in implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special session of the General Assembly entitled:  “Women 2000:  gender, equality development and peace for the twenty-first century.”


The representative of Azerbaijan introduced the draft resolution on the release of women and children hostages in armed conflicts and the representative of Malawi introduced the text on HIV/AIDS.  The Commission Chairman, Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), submitted the draft decision on Bureau elections.


In other business today, the Chairman announced that the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women was now complete.  The following members had been designated to serve:  Mostafa Alaei (Iran); Paul J.A.M. Peters (Netherlands); Audra Plepyte (Lithuania); Connie Taracena Secaira (Guatemala); and Seraphine Toe (Burkina Faso).


The Commission will meet again at 3 p.m. Thursday, 14 March, to take action on the above texts.


Background


The Commission on the Status of Women met this afternoon to hear the introduction of a series of draft resolutions on the following:  release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts; the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; women and girls and HIV/AIDS; situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations.  It also had before it a draft decision submitted by the Chairman on the election of the Bureau.


According to the first draft resolution, on women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2002/L.1), the Commission would condemn violent acts against civilian women and children in areas of armed conflict and call for an effective response to such acts, including the immediate release of those taken hostage and imprisoned. 


The Commission would also condemn torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as rape, slavery, and trafficking in women and children for the removal of organs, which are the most grave consequences of hostage-taking. 


In a related provision, the Commission would strongly urge all parties to armed conflicts to respect fully international humanitarian law and take all necessary measures to protect civilian women and children not involved in hostilities and for their immediate release.  It would urge all parties to provide safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance for them. 


The draft resolution is sponsored by Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.


Under the draft on Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2002/L.2), sponsored by Venezuela, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, the Commission would recommend to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that it call upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process.  It would also call for measures to tangible improvements in the difficult situation on the ground and living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.


In that context, the Commission would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the regulations annexed to The Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families. 


It would call on Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.  It would urge Member States, financial organizations, non-governmental organizations and other relevant institutions to intensify their efforts to provide financial and technical assistance to Palestinian women, especially during the transitional period.


Further, the Commission would be asked to monitor and take action with regard to implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000:  gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century."


In the draft resolution on “women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS” (document E/CN.6/2002/L.3), the Commission would call on the international community, the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to intensify their support of national efforts against HIV/AIDS, particularly in favour of women and young girls, in the worst-hit regions of Africa and where the epidemic was severely setting back national development gains.


The Commission would urge governments to take steps to:  create an environment that promoted compassion and support for people infected with HIV/AIDS; provide the legal framework that would protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS; enable those who were vulnerable to have access to appropriate voluntary counselling services; and encourage efforts to reduce discrimination and stigmatization.


It would also urge governments, with the assistance of the United Nations system, to create an environment and conditions that would take care of and support children orphaned by AIDS.  It would further urge them to adopt a long-term, timely, coherent and integrated AIDS prevention policy, with public information and life-skills-based education programmes specifically tailored to the needs of women and girls within their socio-cultural contexts and sensitivities and the specific needs in their life cycle.


Also, governments would be asked to ensure that condoms and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases were available and affordable in places accessible to women while ensuring their privacy.  In that context, the Commission would also request that governments provide comprehensive health care for women with HIV, including treatment for opportunistic diseases and reproductive health services.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.


A draft resolution, sponsored by the United States, on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan (document E/CN.6/2002/L.4) would have the ECOSOC stress the importance of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, giving special attention to the human rights of women and girls and fully incorporating a gender perspective in his work.


Also by that text, the Council would urge the Afghan Interim Administration to continue to make progress in ensuring the repeal of all legislative and other measures that discriminate against women and girls and impede the realization of all their human rights.  By the same terms, the Council would urge the effective participation of women in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life throughout the country and respect for the equal right of women to work and their reintegration in employment in all segments of Afghan society.


Also, the Administration would be urged to ensure:  the equal right of all women and girls to education without discrimination, the reopening of schools and the admission of women and girls to all levels of education; respect for the right of women and girls to security of the person, and that those responsible for attacks on them are brought to justice; respect for their freedom of movement; and respect for their effective and equal access to the facilities necessary to achieve the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.


The draft on mainstreaming gender into policies and programmes of the United Nations (document E/CN.6/2002/L.5) would have the Commission welcome the Secretary-General’s report on measures taken and progress achieved in the follow-up to and implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special session of the General Assembly entitled:  “Women 2000:  gender, equality development and peace for the twenty-first century”.


The Council would also welcome the establishment of a regular sub-item on gender mainstreaming on ECOSOC’s agenda and of ECOSOC’s decision to devote a coordination segment, before 2002, to the review and appraisal of system-wide implementation of ECOSOC-agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Italy, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.


The Commission also had before it a draft decision submitted by its Chairman on election of the Bureau (document E/CN.6/2002/L.6).


Introduction of Texts


MOMINAT OMAROVA (Azerbaijan), introducing the draft resolution on women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2002/L.1), said armed conflict, terrorism and hostage-taking were ongoing realities affecting women and men in every region, the incidence of which was increasing.  The text contained new elements that had been added as a result of consultations among delegates of the United Nations and European Union.


MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela), on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced a draft resolution on Palestine women (E/CN.6/2002/L.2), saying it was similar to last year’s text with two additional paragraphs.  The text reflected the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and noted that the occupation was the greatest obstacle to the advancement of Palestinian women.


JANE NDELEMANI (Malawi), on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), introduced the draft resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2002/L.3), saying it was an updated and shorter version of the text circulated by the Secretariat earlier.  The text had traditionally been circulated by the SADC in recognition that in that and other parts of the world, poverty was a major contributing factor to the spread of HIV/AIDS.


ELLEN SAUERBRAY (United States) introduced a revised draft resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan (document E/CN.6/2002/L.4/Rev.1) and explained that the longer revised text had incorporated comments received from a number of delegations.  With the end of Taliban rule and the establishment of the Interim Authority, there was now a Government committed to the education of both girls and boys and to the active participation of Afghan women in political and economic life.  Afghan women had returned to work and the classroom, and

ministries had been directed to hire more.  Women held two seats in the new cabinet and were included in the 21-member Special Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.  It was important, at that critical juncture, for the international community to pledge its commitment to the women of Afghanistan, and, for that reason, the United States was introducing the text.


HENRIK HAHN (Denmark) introduced the draft resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective at the United Nations (document E/CN.6/2002/L.5).  The following countries had joined as co-sponsors:  Argentina, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Spain.  He hoped the text would be adopted without a vote. 


Commission Chairman, OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia), submitted a draft decision entitled “Election of the Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women” (document E/CN.6/2002/L.6).


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