Suppression of women’s rights persists despite progress on discrimination – UN

Silvia Pimental

29 July 2011 – The United Nations committee tasked with ensuring compliance with the global treaty to end discrimination against women today noted that there has been progress towards improving the lot of women in some countries, but discriminatory practices continued to limit their human rights.

During its 49th session, the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) considered reports from Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Italy, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Zambia.

Silvia Pimental, the chair of the CEDAW committee, told a news conference at UN Headquarters that improvements in the those countries included legal reforms aimed at ending discrimination and promoting gender equality, the implementation of policies to allow property ownership, access to health and education, greater participation in decision-making, and efforts towards ending violence against women, including female genital mutilation (FGM).

The committee is tasked with monitoring compliance to the Convention by considering reports submitted to it by the State parties to the convention.

Ms. Pimental said that the committee had also expressed its concern that in the eight countries whose reports were considered, there were still “persistence of stereotypes and conservative attitudes which have an impact on the on the advancement of women’s rights.”

The committee also noted lack of laws addressing sexual harassment in the workplace and violence against women, including marital rape.

“In some of the countries, the committee was very concerned with high maternal mortality rates and limited access to reproductive health services,” said Ms. Pimental.

Discriminatory provisions regarding marriage, inheritance, nationality and family relations remained on the statute books of many countries, she pointed out.

Ms. Pimental said the committee had noted that trafficking of women and children remained a common problem in some of the countries whose reports were under consideration, and that women and girls continued to be subjected to harmful practices, including the demand for bride price, polygamy, child marriage, abduction and rape.

Each of the countries had disadvantaged groups of women who suffered multiple forms of discrimination, she said. Limited participation of women in decision-making in business and government was also identified, she added.

The 49th session of the committee’s meeting also adopted a general recommendation on the protection of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations.

“In addition to the widely reported instances of sexual violence and mass rape in times of war, women experience widespread violation of non-derogable rights to life, torture, summary or arbitrary executions, displacement and gross violations of socio-economic rights,” said Pramila Patten, the chair of CEDAW’s Working Group on the human rights of women in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.

The proposed general recommendation will address diverse conflicts, including violations occurring in international and non-international armed conflicts, as well as in situations of extreme violence and other internal disturbances which may not necessarily be classified as armed conflict.


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