Women’s anti-discrimination panel opens session at UN

14 May 2007 –

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) set up to monitor compliance with a landmark treaty on the issue today opened its session at United Nations Headquarters in New York with plans to review reports from Mauritania, Serbia, Syria, Mozambique, Niger, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Vanuatu.

The 23-member expert panel will also continue important work under the Convention’s Optional Protocol, which enables the Committee, based on certain criteria, to undertake inquiries into possible grave or systematic violations of women’s rights.

The Committee is also scheduled to meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to hear information about the countries that are reporting at the current session.

In opening remarks, Rachel N. Mayanja, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, recalled that Ban Ki-moon has endorsed calls to consolidate and strengthen several current women’s units into “one dynamic UN entity” focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment, which should mobilize change at the global level and inspire enhanced results at the country level.

The Committee is tasked with ensuring that 185 States parties meet their obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Adopted in 1979 by the General Assembly, the pact is often described as an international bill of rights for women. In a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end it.

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