Women still suffer discrimination 30 years after global treaty banned it – UN chief

3 December 2009 – Thirty years after an international treaty banning discrimination against women came into force, women and girls are still suffering from the scourge, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today.

“Violence against women and girls is found in all countries,” he told a session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) marking the three decades of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). “The results are devastating for individuals and societies alike: personal suffering, stunted development and political instability.

“So while we recognize the Convention’s successes, we must also acknowledge the urgent need for the entire UN system to support its full implementation,” he added, calling on the few countries that have not yet ratified the treaty to do so.

Over 90 per cent of UN members – 185 countries – are party to the Convention, which Mr. Ban called “one of the most successful human rights treaties ever,” noting that is at the core of the global mission of peace, development and human rights.

“From Cameroon to Morocco, from Kyrgyzstan to Thailand, it has been a catalyst for legal reforms and new national laws that enshrine women’s human rights and gender equality,” he said, citing “the huge strides” made towards realizing women’s human rights on the national and international stage, including at the UN, which has registered a 40 per cent increase in women in senior posts since he assumed office three years ago.

“We must move beyond debates to concrete action that will increase the impact of the Convention,” he concluded. “Let us all work even harder to raise awareness and to work for the Convention’s full implementation worldwide.”


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