Persistent customs and traditions have kept women in inferior positions in the countries which recently submitted national reports, the United Nations committee reviewing progress on complying with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women says.
"Much still needs to be done to overcome such attitudes and practices through awareness-raising, sensitization of public officials and society at large, and improvement of the education system to foster understanding of gender equality in line with the letter and spirit of the Convention," committee chairwoman Rosario Manalo of the Philippines said at the end of the panel's 33rd session late last week.
The 23 experts on the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) serve in their personal capacities, examining legislation, gender stereotyping, political representation, education, employment, health care and rural and family life.
The Committee noted that in the eight countries sending in national reports certain groups of women encountered multiple forms of discrimination, which governments should counteract and eradicate, Ms. Manolo said.
It said migrant and refugee women, women belonging to ethnic, racial, or religious minorities, and especially rural women, who were over 50 per cent of some populations, had consistently lower levels of education, employment, health care and decision-making roles than women in urban areas or who belonged to dominant groups, she said.
In addition, the panel expressed concern over reservations to the Convention by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Israel, Ireland and Lebanon on such issues as women's participation in public life and equality in employment and in marriage and family relations and it called for deadlines for withdrawing them, she said.
The other four countries reviewed were Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guyana and Lebanon.
UN Assistant Secretary-General Rachel Mayanja, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, said the vibrant and constructive dialogue between the Committee and Government delegations had improved the framework for implementing the Convention at the domestic level.
The discussions also highlighted the links between implementing the Convention and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), targets to be reached by 2015, Division for the Advancement of Women Director Carolyn Hannan said.