The Eighteenth Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was held this morning. The main purpose of the meeting is to elect 12 members to replace those whose terms are due to expire on 31 December 2014.
Ms. Curry mentioned the State of Palestine has become a party to the Covenant since the last election in June 2012. Currently, there are a total of 188 States parties. In addition, the Committee has continued to adopt recommendations in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. At present, the Committee is working on several general recommendations concerning women asylum seekers, refugee and stateless women, rural women, access to justice, girls’ and women’s right to education, climate change and natural disasters. The Committee also adopted statements on thematic issues such as treaty body strengthening; strengthened cooperation with UN Women; the role of women in the process of political transition in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia; sexual and reproductive health and rights; and women’s rights in the post-2015 development agenda.
Moreover, the Committee has continued to streamline and harmonize its working methods in order to improve the management of time and resources. They will incorporate the guidelines on independence and impartiality of members of the human rights treaty bodies.
On 9 April 2014, the General Assembly adopted resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system. At the outset, the Meeting elected Ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, Deputy Ambassador of Spain as its Chair upon his nomination from the Western European and other States. Ambassador Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda and Dragana Anđelić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina were elected as Vice-Chairs and twelve experts were being elected in a single round of voting.
Meeting Title: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: 1st Meeting
Speakers: Ms. Gaynel Curry, Acting Chief of the Global Issues Section within the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Representative of the Secretary‑General; Ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, Deputy Ambassador of Spain
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 26 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark
Ambassador Mamabolo highlighted the South African constitution’s provisions on gender equality, and detailed the extent to which provisions are translated into practice. One novel practice is the impending legislation that mandates the government and private institutions to achieve a 50:50 gender ratio in the makeup of the employees, especially those at the decision-making level. Another practice is the establishment of specialized Sexual Offences Court, which provides expedient judicial process with regards to gender-based crime.
Dr. Hofmeister celebrated the Austrian accomplishments in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and also listed the domestic reform on family, labour and criminal law that give effects to the convention. However, she also cautioned the audience that the Fritzl case of a girl being locked in a basement reminds us not to be complacent in ensuring women enjoy their full rights. Dr. Hofmeister highlighted the positive role of women jurists in advancing women’s access to justice, a point which Ms. Duncan expanded on when explaining the importance of involving women in the justice chain.
Ms. Duncan commended the practices in judicial reform tailored for women in Austria and South Africa, and explained how these policies are reformulated and emulated elsewhere around the world. She added that UN-Women and other organizations focus on helping countries to undergo gender-based judicial reform, develop legal aid, train judges to be gender-sensitive, and cultivate effective informal dispute resolution mechanisms. In reminding the audience that the work on women’s access to justice is unfinished, she said that a number of countries still allow customary laws to prevail over women’s fundamental entitlement to inheritance, marriage and employment.
Ambassador Sajdik concluded by urging the audience to passionately champion for women, “for not a single country can claim that it has achieved gender equality between women and men” yet.
Meeting Title: 12th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Speakers: H.E. Dr. Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representatives of Austria to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Jeremiah Nyamane Kinglsey Mamabolo, Permanent Representatives of South Africa to the United Nations; Dr. Lilian Hofmeister, Substitute Judge at the Constitutional Court and CEDAW-candidate, Austria; Ms. Beatrice Duncan, Justice and Constitutional Advisor, UN Women.
Location: Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: June 23th, 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark
“Break the silence.
When you witness violence against women and girls do not sit back.
~ Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General
Violence against women is one of the gravest infringements of human rights and affects women across every country in the world. Chairman H.E. Michel Spinellis opened the meeting by discussing the continued gap between an emotional commitment to ending violence against women and action that eliminates its occurrence.
The European Union formulated a union-wide survey with the FRA (European Union agency for fundamental rights). The Survey interviewed 1,500 women in each of the 28 member states to gather data that showed the areas in which intervention had been a success in the EU and exposed dimensions that lead to the continued attack against European women in their own homes everyday.
Mr Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of the Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department at FRA, explained that the interviews involved questions about physical, sexual and psychological violence and the results were distressing; 1:3 women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence (at least once since they were 15) and 1:5 women had been sexually abused by a current partner in the previous twelve months (2011-2012). The interview discussions revealed that new technologies had enabled contemporary forms of sexual and psychological violence through online sites and messaging. Mr Dimitrakopoulos insisted the European community needed to change the cultural perception of law enforcement and other services so that women felt more empowered reporting the attacks, rather than ashamed or fearful, and then perpetrators could be convicted.
Mr Ioannis Vrailas explained that all EU member states have formed aligned legislation for the protection of women and insisted on the continued need for active political dialogue to continue promoting the inherent rights of every woman and young girl.
Ms Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN-Women, expressed her admiration of the EU’s groundbreaking efforts to create an extensive survey with the ability to be replicated worldwide.
Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Violence against women across the European Union: Presentation of a 2014, European Union-wide survey”
Speakers: H.E. Michel Spinellis, Mr Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Mr Ioannis Vrailas, and Ms Lakshmi Puri
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 14 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark