NATIONAL LEGISLATION, GOVERNMENT BODIES AIMED AT PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY FOCUS OF WOMEN’S COMMISSION ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION

4 March 2003
WOM/1389

NATIONAL LEGISLATION, GOVERNMENT BODIES AIMED AT PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY FOCUS OF WOMEN’S COMMISSION ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION

04/03/2003
Press ReleaseWOM/1389

Commission on Status of Women

Forty-seventh Session

4th Meeting (PM)

NATIONAL LEGISLATION, GOVERNMENT BODIES AIMED AT PROMOTING GENDER

EQUALITY FOCUS OF WOMEN’S COMMISSION ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION

Speakers Highlight Laws Targeting Harmful Cultural Practices,

Describe Creation of Ministries Dedicated to Women’s Rights, Development

Passing legislation targeting violence against women, educating government officials, and establishing special governmental bodies were vital in furthering gender equality, speakers stressed at a high-level round table held this afternoon during the resumed forty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The round table, with some 27 participants, many at the ministerial level, focused on national legislation, structures and activities that countries had created to promote gender equality, particularly regarding the Commission’s two thematic issues for the current session -- women’s access to media and information and communication technologies; and women’s human rights and violence against women.

Concerning laws targeting violence against women, Nilofer Bakhtiar, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Women’s Development, Social Welfare and Special Education of Pakistan pointed out that her country had declared honour killings a criminal offence last year, and strict penalties had been laid down for trafficking in women and children.  In addition, a million dollar programme was also underway to train women judges and lawyers, so that they could give free and quick justice to the women victims in Pakistan.

The representative of Ghana said laws had been enacted in her country to prohibit such cultural practices as female genital mutilation, which severely inhibited the physical and psychological development of women.  Angelique Ngomo, Ministry of the Family, Protection of the Child and the Promotion of Women of Gabon, pointed out that women were often at the active end of violence against women, of which female genital mutilation was a prime example.  Men were not the only perpetrators of violence, she said.

With respect to educating government officials, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg said that all ministers in her country were trained in gender mainstreaming.  Each must ask themselves before taking any action -- how will this affect women?

Speaking about governmental bodies that had been set up to focus on women’s rights, Emilia Fernandes, Special Secretary for Women Rights of Brazil, explained

that her Government had recently elevated its Secretariat on Women’s Rights to the ministerial level, which would allow it greater autonomy and room for expansion.  In addition, the country had a Secretariat on Women’s Policies to deal with gender issues at all levels of government and civil society.  That Secretariat was now being viewed as the conscience of government agencies.

In describing its Ministry for the Advancement of Women, the representative of Burkina Faso said that body implemented programmes for the socio-economic improvement of woman together with other agencies.  It had set up programmes to educate women and girls, promote reproductive rights, and evaluate the activities of non-governmental organizations and other groups.  Cuba’s representative said each of the ministries in her country had offices to create policies for women, a practise that had become increasingly institutionalized.

In strengthening women’s rights, speakers also stressed the importance of women on electoral lists, campaigns to raise awareness, and programmes to combat poverty and illiteracy.  They also highlighted budgetary concerns in promoting gender equality, as well as ensuring that existing international conventions and tools to promote gender mainstreaming objectives were implemented.

Also participating in the round table discussion were:  Jean Augustine, Secretary of State, Status of Women, Canada; Elizabeth Querol de Aranda, Vice-Ministra de la Mujer del Ministerio de la Muyer, Peru; Abdul Aziz Hoesein, Deputy Minister in Society’s Role, State Minister for Women’s Empowerment of Indonesia; Jeanne Francoise Lekomba, Secretaire d’Etat aupres de la Minsitre de l’Agriculture, de l’Elevage, de la Peche et de la Promotion de la Femme of Congo; Lily Caravantes, Secretaria Presidencial de la Muyer of Guatemala; Jackie Kelly, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Australia; Mominat Omarova, Deputy Chair of the State Committee on Women Issues of Azerbaijan.

Also speaking were:  Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Women Affairs and Child Welfare of Namibia; Faizah Mohd Tahir, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Family Development of Malaysia; Laura Isabel Velazquez, Special Representative for Gender Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina; Dubravka Simonovic, Head of Division for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Croatia; Sub-Hye Kang, Director of International Relations Office, Ministry of Gender Equality of the Republic of Korea; and Ellen Sauerbrey, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State of the United States.

Also:  Gladys Zalaguett, International Department National Machinery of Chile; Marion Thielenhaus, Deputy Head of Department, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth of Germany; Flora van Houwelingen, Acting Director of the Department of Gender Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands; and Patricia Espinosa, Director, Institute for Women of Mexico.  The representatives of Tunisia, Japan, and Greece (on behalf of the European Union) also spoke.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 5 March, to continue its general discussion.

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For information media. Not an official record.