22 March 2017
Sixty-first Session, 12th Meeting* (AM)

Women’s Commission Considers Draft Resolutions Including First-Ever Text on Preventing Workplace Sexual Harassment, as Session Continues

The Commission on the Status of Women, nearing the end of its sixty-first annual session, today began its consideration of several draft resolutions — including, for the first time, a text tackling the pervasive challenge of workplace sexual harassment.

The representative of Israel introduced that draft, titled, “Preventing and eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace” (document E/CN.6/2017/L.4), on which the Commission is expected to take action on Friday.  “Sexual harassment is all around us,” she stressed, noting that it could be seen walking down the street, on public transportation and, most often, at the workplace, where its prevalence remained alarming.

Expressing hope that the text would give a voice to all those women and men who experienced workplace harassment but had so far remained silent, she said the draft recognized that the dignity of persons — men and women alike — was not something that could be ignored and must be dealt with in a serious manner.

Describing several of its key provisions, she said the text condemned sexual harassment in all its forms, especially against women and girls, and recognized the practice as a form of violence and discrimination.  It also addressed the negative impact of sexual harassment on women, including in the enjoyment of their rights and equal opportunities, their ability to remain and advance in the workplace and their physical and mental health consequences.

Among other things, she said, the draft emphasized the need to take all the necessary steps to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment.  It encouraged Member States to raise awareness about victim’s rights, take measures to educate children on the issue from a young age, promote research and data collection, and encourage employers to prevent and address sexual harassment by their employees.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, then introduced the Commission’s annual draft resolution titled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women” (document E/CN.6/2017/L.3).  By its terms, the Commission would recommend that the Economic and Social Council reaffirm the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory as the major obstacle for Palestinian women’s advancement, self-reliance and participation and integration in the development of their society.

Noting that the text was identical to the 2016 version with the exception of several technical changes, he said it would once again ask the Council to urge the international community to provide critical assistance and services to Palestinian women, in particular in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ongoing reconstruction needs of the Gaza Strip.

In other business, the Commission also began its consideration of an agenda item on “Follow-up to Economic and Social Council resolutions and decisions”.  Before it for that discussion were a letter dated 15 November 2016 from the President of the Economic and Social Council to the Commission’s Chair (document (document E/CN.6/2017/8) and a note by the Secretariat on the Commission’s contribution to the Council’s work and to the work of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (document E/CN.6/2017/9).

Describing the contents of the note, Commission Chair Antonio De Aguiar Patriota (Brazil) said it summarized the themes selected by the Council and the Forum for 2017 to 2019.  Recalling that the latter had chosen “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” as its 2017 theme, he said the Commission would contribute significantly to that discussion.

In particular, he said, at its sixtieth session in 2016, the Commission had set out a detailed road map for the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda in its agreed conclusions.  During its current session, many speakers had highlighted the links between Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment and other targets, especially Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth.  Meanwhile, the Commission’s current review theme, “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”, had allowed it to focus on the transition to the Sustainable Development Goals in an effort to accelerate the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 24 March, to take action on draft proposals and conclude its consideration of all outstanding issues.


*     The 11th Meeting was not covered.

For information media. Not an official record.