LEGISLATION NOT ENOUGH TO OVERCOME CULTURAL ATTITUDES, PRACTICES INHIBITING EQUAL TREATMENT FOR WOMEN, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD
LEGISLATION NOT ENOUGH TO OVERCOME CULTURAL ATTITUDES, PRACTICES INHIBITING EQUAL TREATMENT FOR WOMEN, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD
LEGISLATION NOT ENOUGH TO OVERCOME CULTURAL ATTITUDES, PRACTICES INHIBITING EQUAL TREATMENT FOR WOMEN, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD19971023 Committee Concludes Consideration of Women's Advancement, Implementation of Outcome of 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women
Legislative measures were not enough to overcome social and cultural attitudes and practices that inhibited women from attaining equal treatment, the representative of Malta said this morning, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its consideration of issues relating to the advancement of women.
Partnership between men and women in development should be the propelling force in national policies, she told the Committee. The importance of inculcating a culture of gender equality which ensured that biological difference was not equated with social inferiority could not be overemphasized. National education policies, the crucial element in enhancing human resource development, must focus on transmitting gender equality as a principal value.
Under Ethiopia's Constitution, the empowerment of women in the country and women's equal rights were now guaranteed in all spheres, that country's representative said. However, the law, by itself, could not eliminate the influence of harmful customs nor remedy harmful traditional practices. Information, education and communication were of paramount importance, he said.
In Haiti, cultural stereotypes still existed on both sides of the gender line and cultural elements helped perpetuate discrimination, its representative said. Haitian women did not report violence, for example, and the culture downplayed the significance of violence against women. The situation of women in rural areas was especially difficult, particularly with respect to food security.
The responsibility for progress in reducing gender-based inequality and discrimination and for increasing equal access to opportunities must move beyond specific entities dealing with women, the representative of India said. It must become integral to all core decision-making ministries that impacted on social and economic development. Gender mainstreaming must move to the heart of government, she said
Third Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
Statements were also made by the representatives of Cameroon, United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Niger, Rwanda and Egypt, as well as by the observer for Palestine and a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to begin its consideration of crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue consideration of issues relating to the advancement of women and to implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
The Committee has before it the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, as well as seven reports by the Secretary-General on: the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); the situation of women in rural areas; violence against women migrant workers; traffic in women and girls; the status of women in the Secretariat; and the implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
In addition, a note by the Secretary-General transmits the report on the activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Relevant sections of the report of the Economic and Social Council (to be issued) are also before the Committee.
Also before the Committee are two letters: one, dated 19 July, from the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, draws attention to documents issued at the Microcredit Summit held in Washington, D.C., from 2 to 4 February; the other, dated 14 April, from the Permanent Representative of Georgia, transmits a copy of a report on the policy of ethnic cleansing/genocide conducted in the territory of Abkhazia, Georgia. (For background on these documents, see Press Release GA/SHC/3416 of 20 October.)
CATHERINE MAHOUVE (Cameroon) said the question of women's advancement must be an international priority. Equality between the sexes had been reaffirmed, but experience showed it was not generally respected. The plight of rural women was particularly acute. Those women were the mainspring of progress and yet they were still among the poorest in the world. Access to markets was not available to them. Both internal and external factors were responsible for the situation facing women. Internal factors included such elements as outworn customs. External factors included the impact of external debt on countries affected by chronic economic problems.
She commended UNIFEM for spearheading the advance of women and INSTRAW for its important role. The UNIFEM trust fund for actions taken to stop violence was particularly welcome; violence against women should not be occurring in countries, including her own, which claimed to be civilized. The United Nations had always advocated equality between the sexes, especially in
Third Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
the Secretariat, but it had to reach 50/50 gender distribution. It was hoped, that post of Deputy Secretary-General would be given to a woman.
Measures taken by her Government for advancement of women included the establishment of women's cooperatives, which gave them access to microcredit. In addition, legal jurists were made available to inform rural women of their rights. The role of women in economic and social development was of paramount importance. Everything must to be done to restore the dignity of women and their proper place in society beside men.
OMAR OBEID AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said that despite the consensus seen in conventions and forums on women, the mandate of women's equality had not been realized. Women, particularly in developing countries, suffered many handicaps. Resources must be mobilized to advance women and guarantee their full participation in all areas of life. Donor country attitudes towards the third world countries had affected women. As a result of those attitudes, women's education had suffered. Donor countries and other development organizations must help government efforts to achieve changes that would guarantee women their rights in a way that took account of various customs and cultures. He commended United Nations efforts on behalf of women, particularly in protecting them from violence and in promoting their advancement, particularly in the economic sphere. He said that Palestinian and other Arab women were suffering under Israeli occupation and called on the international community to prevail on Israel to end that situation. Muslim law aimed to help Arab women in various ways, including ensuring the rights of mothers. His country's national plan included elements for protection, training and education and for improving the health of women. Concepts which prevented women's full participation in society must be changed. There was a need to implement more programmes and plans for the advancement of women in a way that would help society advance, both regionally and internationally.
JACOB B. WILMOT (Ghana) said that comprehensive actions were needed at the national, regional and international levels if the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women was to be transformed into achievements that would significantly improve the position of women in society. That was the best approach to the many problems affecting women, including poverty, discrimination, violence and practices and attitudes which perpetuated their inequality and subjugation. In Ghana, the National Council on Women and Development had been instrumental in incorporating gender equality issues in the country's comprehensive development policy document. The Council had been instrumental in influencing changes in such customary practices as the observance of widowhood rites and female genital mutilation. It had also finalized a plan of action for the period 1997-1998 for implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. It addressed the priority areas of poverty eradication, access to microcredit, education and the girl child, and decision-making and public life for women.
Third Committee - 4 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
At the regional level, a meeting had been organized, with UNIFEM's assistance, on minimizing the threats and maximizing the opportunities resulting from globalization and trade liberalization, he said. Adequate resources should be provided to the 23 member countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to implement the proposals made at that meeting to strengthen the national and regional associations of businesswomen and to enhance their capacity in the trade field. He commended the initiatives taken by UNIFEM and other United Nations bodies such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Despite their disadvantaged position, women continued to play significant roles in the economies of rural societies, he said. In sub- Saharan Africa and elsewhere, they contributed 60 to 80 per cent of labour in food production for both household consumption and sale. Strategies to facilitate their access to productive resources must therefore take account of their unequal position, enormous contribution to national economies and potential to produce more.
He called on the United Nations system, when addressing the issue of violence against women, to pay particular attention to the problem of violence against women migrant workers. Member States which had not done so should consider signing, ratifying or acceding to the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women should be commended for its excellent work.
YAMINA BENNANI-AKHAMLICH (Morocco) said that two years after the Beijing Conference, the principles and goals set there had not been realized. Many constraints continued to impede women's emancipation and many countries were still ignoring the dividends that would result from investing in women. Women's value continued to be underestimated. The preference in many countries for boys kept women socially marginalized, particularly in the labour market, where they received unequal pay, even for equal work. Women's health issues were also neglected, as were their educational needs, resulting in female illiteracy.
In many areas of the world, unequal treatment of the sexes often occurred when there was a slowing down of the economy. The lack of resources, particularly in Africa, was a serious obstacle to implementing the commitments made at Beijing, she said.
There was, therefore, a need for sustained and coordinated action by the international financial institutions, which should develop programmes to improve the situation of women, particularly in vulnerable sectors. The
Third Committee - 5 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
development fund proposed by the Secretary-General should help promote programmes for women in developing regions.
FRANCES RODRIGUES (Mozambique) said gender equality constituted a priority for her Government and was an important element of all its development programmes and projects. Mozambique's Constitution provided a legal framework that ensured equality for men and women without discrimination. The Government was fully committed to the Beijing Platform for Action, and a national plan of action had been undertaken.
As in many countries, women in Mozambique represented the majority and also the most vulnerable group of the population, she said. The Government was convinced that the country's future development depended to a large extent on women's active participation. It was making special efforts to bring women into the national mainstream by providing equal opportunities and by finding effective mechanisms to raise the level of education, reduce discrimination, promote jobs, create conditions for better access and improve the health of women.
The United Nations had played a fundamental role in helping Mozambique implement the outcome of the Beijing Conference, she said. Her country supported the recommendation for promoting an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations.
MARYSE NARCISSE (Haiti) said that despite national and international efforts, women continued to be subject to discrimination. The Haitian Government had made the advancement of women an integral part of its development programme. A high portion of heads of households in Haiti were women, yet women remained disadvantaged. Health care, for example, was not guaranteed, and the lack of education for women showed up at the secondary and university levels.
The situation of women in rural areas was most difficult, particularly with respect to food security, she said. Customs and laws, such as those regarding inheritance and land ownership, had made rural women migrate to towns and factories. At present, women outnumbered men in the cities.
Nevertheless, women were gaining rights and Haitian women, as part of a global movement, had helped topple a dictatorship, she said. Women were represented in decision-making posts, and Haiti was one of nine countries where a woman had been head of Government. However, the number of women elected was insignificant, and the creation of a ministry on the status of women in 1994 had been an important step. Its efforts focused on eradicating poverty, instituting juridical reforms and making the population more aware of the problems facing women.
Third Committee - 6 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
Haiti was still getting over the rule of a dictatorship and had development problems which were obstacles to advancement of women, she said. Cultural stereotypes still existed on both sides of the gender line and cultural elements helped perpetuate discrimination. Haitian women did not report on violence, for example, and the culture downplayed the significance of violence against women. No legal text existed to protect women's rights, which led to such injustices as prostitution. International instruments had given support, but much needed to be done. Those instruments needed to inspire action of all States, so women could regain their full rights.
LINN MYAING (Myanmar) said his country had acceded to the Anti- Discrimination Convention this year and had acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Myanmar was well known for its unique culture. Discrimination based on gender, race and religion were practically non- existent there, and great care was taken of all children. There was no discrimination between the sexes. The family was a cohesive unit in which roles were well recognized. Gender equality began at an early age, with traditional practices which ensured the protection of women throughout their lives. As a result, violence within the family rarely occurred. Women had always had equal rights with men in Myanmar. Laws protected women in matrimony, as well as their inheritance and property rights, and they were also protected from sexual offenses. Legislation also made provision for women labourers and the rights of women under detention.
He said women had always taken a part in the development of the country. The Government was committed to further enhancing the situation. The Maternal Child Welfare Association, formed in 1990, worked with women at the grass- roots level and also addressed with the economic empowerment of women through credit facilities and income-generation measures. Other organization for women also worked towards the promotion of their social and economic lives by helping to establish small businesses and providing vocational training. The Myanmar national committee was formed last year to implement activities for the advancement of women in the country. A working committee on women's affairs addressed such issues as education, health, culture, economics, the girl child and violence against women. His Government would continue to promote and protect the rights being enjoyed by the women in Myanmar. Unlike many countries where there was discrimination against women, the status of women in Myanmar was among the highest in the world.
SOMAIA S. BARGHOUTI, observer for Palestine said the Platform for Action gave attention to women living under foreign occupation. Palestinian women strove for peace, freedom and prosperity, yet they faced the harsh reality of the continuing Israeli occupation. That occupation greatly impeded their efforts to improve conditions and advance their status. It continued to affect the daily lives of the Palestinian people, particularly women and children.
Third Committee - 7 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
Israeli actions included the building and expansion of colonial settlements, ongoing confiscation of land and water and the closure of the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, he said. Those policies had a detrimental effect on the overall conditions of Palestinian women and children and posed real obstacles to their advancement. Furthermore, as the result of the long years of occupation, there had been an increase in the number of refugees and displaced persons, more break-ups of families, a deterioration of health conditions, a decline in education and an increase in unemployment.
Despite such obstacles, Palestinian women continued to participate actively in the international community's efforts on issues relating to the advancement and empowerment of women and specific steps had been taken towards implementing the Beijing Platform for Action, she said. Diligent efforts had been taken at the official and grass-roots levels to produce a national strategy for the advancement of Palestinian women. The development of Palestinian women's political, economic, social and legal status could not be isolated from the general political situation of the Palestinian people as a whole.
The level of their participation in decisions-making positions did not fulfil the aspirations of Palestinian women and did not reflect their determination to attain reach more satisfactory results, she said. It was time for the international community to intensify efforts to increase their assistance to Palestinian women during the current difficult time of their struggle for independence, freedom and prosperity. She cited, in particular, the need to integrate a gender perspective in all policies and programmes of the United Nations system towards the advancement and empowerment of Palestinian women.
FESSEHA ASGHEDOM TESSEMA (Ethiopia) said that over 80 per cent of his country's population lived in rural areas, and the majority were women engaged in sedentary farming or lived as nomads. The worked 13 to 17 hours a day and took care of their loved ones, yet they faced discrimination in every facet of life, including the political, economic, social and cultural.
In 1994, the Government set cardinal principles into the Constitution to serve as a springboard for the empowerment of women, he said. Women's equal rights were now guaranteed in all spheres and many improvements had been achieved. The Constitution prohibited laws, customs and practices that oppressed or caused bodily or mental harm to women. It obliged the State to enforce rights of women and to eliminate the influence of harmful customs. However, the law by itself could not eliminate the influence of harmful customs nor remedy harmful traditional practices. Information, education and communication were of paramount importance.
Third Committee - 8 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
Much remained to be done, he said. The major constraint lay in the limited capacity, particularly among regional governments, to implement the policy on women and ensure gender mainstreaming in development planning. Greater human and financial resources were required.
FIKRET MAMEDALI PASHAYEV (Azerbaijan) said the United Nations bodies had played an important role in implementing the outcome of the Beijing Conference. However, it was necessary to further gender mainstreaming at the United Nations. Much more could be done to coordinate the efforts of the United Nations and governments. The UNIFEM and INSTRAW could play bigger roles in countries in transition.
Azerbaijan was a transitional country which was suffering aggression from Armenia, he said. More should be done to implement programmes to help his country. Seventy per cent of its women in refugee camps had stated that they want to return to their homes and workplaces. Azerbaijan would like help from UNIFEM to put those women into positions of leadership.
Under conditions of continued violence in the world, women and children continue to suffer most, he said. Armenia refused to let the international community in to examine conditions in the camps. The United Nations should take stronger steps against those who did not abide by international rules.
HAMIDA KHUHRO (Pakistan) said the outcome of the Beijing Conference had been the result of 20 years of action by the international community, including non-governmental organizations. Pakistan was committed to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Their implementation would enhance the participation of women in all areas of life and help to ensure the empowerment of women. Such empowerment could not be seen in isolation from the larger issues of poverty and underdevelopment, prevalent in developing countries, where women bore the burden of poverty, were illiterate, were not empowered, were victims of malnutrition and had little access to health care.
The processes of economic liberalization and globalization had adversely affected the economic growth of developing countries, she said. Coupled with structural adjustment programmes, it had resulted in a reduction of government funding for basic health and education services and food subsidies. As a result, women had been negatively affected and developing countries' efforts to promote the rights of women, including their right to development, had been hampered.
The United Nations and other international organizations must play a central role in the full implementation of the Platform for Action and take the lead in efforts to create an enabling economic environment to help developing countries promote the empowerment of women, she said. The dwindling flow of official development assistance (ODA) had been a major
Third Committee - 9 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
impediment to realizing the goals of Beijing, and there were no indications that the trend would be reversed. Developed countries should fulfil their ODA commitments.
Violence against women was unacceptable and remained a major constraint to their advancement, she said. The United Nations must encourage governments to create legislation to protect women from all kinds of violence. In armed conflict, women were subjected to brutal and degrading treatment. In the disputed states of Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiri women had been subjected to such violence by Indian security forces -- which was documented by non- governmental organizations and international human rights bodies. Such acts took place during infamous "cordon and search operations". Citing recent incidents, she said the international community should impress upon India the need to stop such human rights violations against Kashmiri women and ensure that those responsible were brought to justice.
SYLVIE JUNOD, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said women were susceptible to marginalization, poverty and war. Women and children suffered most in conflict situations and were victims of rape, anti- personnel landmines and were even killed. The ICRC had denounced such acts against women and made constant representations to the parties in conflicts to stop them. The situation warranted urgent attention. Humanitarian law accorded women equal protection, and the Beijing Declaration had reaffirmed the need to accord special protection for women's special needs. Certain provisions of international humanitarian law were especially designed to protect women, maternity and the mothers of small children.
At its annual conference, the ICRC had condemned sexual violence and rape, she said. The organization was guided by the objectives of protecting women and prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex or nationality. The ICRC followed those precepts in its visits to detainees and in seeking to ensure that conditions for women were adequate. The preservation of the family unit was crucial in times of conflict. The ICRC tried to maintain contact between separated family members by organizing family visits and arranging transfers for family members in order to reunite families. The ICRC was also becoming involved in programmes specifically designed for women who had experienced violent and deadly conflict. It was developing networks for the provision of social and psychological assistance to women and children in such circumstances.
ELAINE MILLER (Malta) said she supported efforts to mainstream a gender perspective in all United Nations programmes and policies. The advancement of women was increasingly becoming a central issue on both the national and international fronts. So-called women's issues were no longer viewed in isolation or as a separate category from broader social, political, economic and humanitarian concerns. The focus now was on an integrated approach to the
Third Committee - 10 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
advancement and social, economic and political empowerment of women. That could be achieved by formulating national policies and incorporating those policies into national development plans.
Partnership between men and women in development should be the propelling force in national policies, she said. However, enacting and implementing legislative measures was not enough. Negative social and cultural attitudes and practices persisted, inhibiting a large proportion of women from attaining equal treatment in the home, the workplace and society at large. The importance of inculcating a culture of gender equality which ensured that biological difference was not equated with social inferiority could not be overemphasized. National education policies, the crucial element in enhancing human resource development, also must focus on transmitting gender equality as a principal and natural value.
Key elements of Malta's national plan for gender equity included advocacy agendas and the setting of priorities, she said. Malta commended the work of the human rights programme of UNIFEM and its recently established trust fund for the elimination of violence against women, to which Malta was proud to contribute.
FOROUZANDEH VADIATI (Iran) said the promotion of women's role in social and economic areas required concerted international efforts to mobilize new and additional human and financial resources. A debilitating environment and unilateral coercive measures against countries had an adverse impact. They undermined the human rights of women and impaired the full enjoyment of their right to development.
In recent years, Iran had embarked on promoting the status of women in such areas as education, economy and decision-making, she said. Since the recent presidential elections, Iran expected to see more attention and emphasis given to the advancement of women, not only on the part of the Government but also through more pronounced participation by the civil society, including non-governmental organizations. The President had already designated a high advisor for women's affairs, who acted as a government coordinator on various aspects of women's social life.
Women and children were undoubtedly the most vulnerable segments of society in armed conflict situations, she said. Citing the situation of women in Afghanistan, she said the international community should take appropriate measures to alleviate the suffering which resulted from practices which were being carried out in the name of Islam. Calling attention also to violence against women who were subject to Israel's practices in the occupied territories, she said that such practices would not go on indefinitely if the international community took a firm stance.
Third Committee - 11 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
BHARATI RAY (India) said she fully supported efforts at gender mainstreaming at the national level and within the United Nations system. Such mainstreaming was important in realizing the objectives of justice and development. Efforts to achieve gender balance in the secretariats of the United Nations system must be encouraged, bearing in mind the principle of equitable geographical distribution. An awareness of the impact of policy decisions on women and men and their contribution to the goal of gender equality should be of concern not only to the Third Committee but to all the Assembly's Main Committees.
The responsibility for progress in reducing gender-based inequality and discrimination and for increasing equal access to opportunities must move beyond specific entities dealing with women. It must become integral to all core decision-making ministries that impacted on social and economic development. Gender mainstreaming must move to the heart of government. Some of the measures adopted by India in following up the commitments made at Beijing included the national policy for the empowerment of women which incorporated a gender perspective in all plans, policies, programmes, budgetary allocations and monitoring and evaluations exercises. In addition, the Indian Government had accepted the principle of setting aside at least 30 per cent of all development funds exclusively for women, to ensure that women received their share of benefits in all programmes of income and employment generation.
The promotion and welfare of the girl child was an object of particular attention and high priority, as part of India's overall strategy for empowering women, she said. An effort was now under way to universalize elementary education through special schemes targeted at the girl child at the State and national levels.
A revolutionary scheme aimed at transforming the social perception of girls from liabilities to equal partners in the family, especially among the poor, had been launched by the Indian Prime Minister in October, he said. Under the scheme, each girl born after 15 August this year would receive 500 rupees as a one-time grant. The grant was an expression of political will and signified that India saw its national renewal and future as linked to the advancement of the woman, beginning with the girl child. It was estimated that nearly 220,000 female babies born in families below the poverty line would benefit each year from the grant. The idea was to achieve such broader goals as eliminating discrimination against women and eradicating such harmful and criminal practices as female infanticide, female foeticide and the sale of girl children precipitated by poverty.
ABDUSSALAM A. SERGIWA (Libya) said that despite international actions to improve the status of women and enhance their role in development, the situation of women in many developing countries did not show any tangible
Third Committee - 12 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
progress, owing to poor economic conditions. They were still subjected to many constraints and were denied many rights, such as that of receiving equal pay for equal work. The international community must take measures to tackle the root causes that marginalized women in the development process. A favourable social and economic environment was also important to realize the effective integration of women. The family was of utmost importance as the basic unit of society, which instilled the values of women's equality. Women were not in conflict with each other, nor with men.
Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action must give high priority to poor women, as well as to women refugees and disabled and elderly women, he said. His Government had taken steps to improve the lives of women and support their role in society. National programmes included the creation of a document on the rights of women in Libya, which stressed the equal rights of men and women. It underscored that their freedom depended on financial independence, including the right to own property and to have custody of children. Despite the many achievements in Libya and its accession to many conventions which promoted women's rights, his country suffered adverse effects from the unjust sanctions imposed by the Security Council, which hindered the lives of Libyan women. He called for support for the lifting of the sanctions and for the appointment of a special rapporteur to study the lives of women and children under sanctions.
MEREMI ABBA KOUROU (Niger) said that each of the recent international conferences had recognized the rights of women, not just the Beijing Conference. In Niger, two years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, there were encouraging signs of progress for women. A commission had been established to make the population aware of women's rights, steps had been taken to promote education for girls, and initiatives had been taken in areas ranging from health to work opportunities.
Niger had undertaken many numerous cooperative initiatives with international groups, he said. That work had helped in such areas as increasing women's management capacities. Such programmes included a rotating loan system, which had been established as part of women's cooperative groups and which enabled women to improve both their earning capacities and their access to credit.
CHRISTINE NYINAWUMWAMI (Rwanda) drew attention to a meeting on gender held in her country earlier in the year. At that meeting, women from all over the world exchanged experiences, especially with regard to conditions created by situations of genocide. The genocide in her country had made women 70 per cent of the population, and those women were taking steps forward, with the help of women who had not suffered such a tragedy.
Third Committee - 13 - Press Release GA/SHC/3421 12th Meeting (AM) 23 October 1997
She called upon the international community to bring those responsible for the genocide to justice. A fund had been set up for the women of Rwanda, to which all were asked to contribute. The traditional roles of women in Rwanda had not given them the experience and their culture had not prepared them, but Rwandan women had been pushed into a leadership role. Even so, there were fewer women in higher governmental positions. Pressure must be put on governments to give women a bigger role.
AMANY M. FAHMY (Egypt) said her country gave high priority to the advancement of women. The feminine factor was the basis of Egypt's next five- year plan, which was also based on development. Women's concerns were not confined to women.
That activities described in the Secretary-General's report on INSTRAW were not in line with that body's mandate to be international, she said. Those activities referred not to training but only to studies. Within the United Nations Secretariat, the 50/50 objective of gender equality should not be pursued at the cost of growth or development programmes. The principal of equitable geographical distribution must be respected. With regard to rural women, it was important to remember that any increase in living standards required investment.
Overall, the reports before the Committee lacked detail and made no mention of donors living up to commitments they had made at international conferences, she said. That was a particular consideration with regard to donor commitments to African countries. Egypt respected its commitments and always paid its dues on time. Beijing should not be seen as having created a race between the two sexes to get more. Balanced development was the basis for progress.
Right of Reply
ANNA AGHADJANIAN (Armenia), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the statement by the representative of Azerbaijan had been misleading withe respect to the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh. That conflict was between the people of that area, who were striving for self-determination, and the Government of Azerbaijan, which refused to address their rights. Armenia had consistently called for a negotiated settlement to the conflict and had unilaterally released all Azerbaijani prisoners. Armenia had also reiterated its commitment to the release of prisoners and called on Azerbaijan to release all its prisoners. However, that had not been done.
ELCHIN AMIRBEKOV (Azerbaijan) said he reaffirmed every word of the earlier statement by his country's representative. The statement, which represented the facts of the conflict, spoke for itself. Armenia was the only State which had not recognized the territory as Azerbaijani.
* *** *