Press Release

Commission on Status of Women

Forty-seventh Session

8th Meeting (AM)



Combating poverty, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the pandemic of violence against women were clear human rights priorities, Sergio Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Commission on the Status of Women this afternoon, as it met to consider the outcome of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolutions and decisions.

The international community would continue to work against those plagues, he emphasized, and strive to eradicate harmful traditional practices.  It would also promote universal women’s rights, combat racial as well as religious intolerance, and stress the need to guarantee every girl and woman education as well as equal participation and access to the media and information and communication technologies.

Human rights education would empower women, he stressed, allowing them to claim their rights and improve their chances of escaping poverty and violence.  Without improved respect for human rights, it would be impossible to meet the Millennium Development Goals, he added.

Improving the status of women meant focusing attention on the rule of law, he continued.  His Office would encourage all nations to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol.  It would also ensure legal, institutional and judicial frameworks to prevent violations of women’s rights and ensure redress for victims.

His Commission had been greatly assisted by the joint work plans adopted since 1997 by the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Human Rights, he said, which had eased collaboration with the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela King.  Those plans were a valuable example of collaboration the Economic and Social Council was seeking to encourage among its commissions.

Introducing Mr. De Mello, Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Women’s Division, referred to a report of the Secretary-General (document E/CN.6/2003/10) which invited the Commission on the Status of Women to continue highlighting gender perspectives in the work of the Council and its subsidiary bodies.  It also stressed the role the Commission had played in supporting gender mainstreaming and drawing attention to women’s concerns in the work of the functional commissions and the Council itself.

Recommendations in the report were aimed at the Commission’s continuing exercise of its function in conjunction with other processes and functional commissions.  The outcomes of the Commission’s work, she said, should be brought to the attention of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, as well as the Commission on Human Rights and the preparatory process of the World Summit on the Information Society.

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