UN rights officials encourage reform on International Women’s Day
UN rights officials encourage reform on International Women’s Day
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[JURIST] Independent experts within the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] on Friday urged [press release] governments around the world to take decisive steps to ensure and protect women’s rights, and to “turn decades of empty promises into concrete changes.” In a statement recognizing International Women’s Day, experts praised the progress women and governments have achieved to further women’s rights, but cautioned that violence against women remains a serious problem throughout the world. In efforts to ensure the dignity and safety of females around the world, experts encouraged governments to make an effort to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) [official website] in the CEDAW Convention [text]. The experts’ statement noted that discrimination against women remains a problem in all parts of the world:

Women disproportionately bear the brunt of poverty, war, disease, lack of safe water, and famine. Women living in rural areas and women suffering multiple forms of discrimination because of the intersections of their different identities and characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, migration status, social origin, gender identity and others, remain the most marginalized from development and human rights gains…We, therefore, call on Member States to heed the voices of all women and girls demanding with ever stronger insistence and urgency their human rights. This is now urgent for implementing their rights. We are simply the echo of their voices.

The statement was joined by the CEDAW committee as well as a number of independent rights experts and other UN rights officials.

The implementation of women’s rights and protection has been an ongoing process around the world. Earlier this month, the UN top women’s rights advocate denounced [JURIST report] escalating violence against women in Egypt. In January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged India’s government [JURIST report] to strengthen critical services for rape victims, expressing sympathy for the family of the 23-year-old medical student who died from injuries sustained in a gang-rape in December. Police in New Delhi charged six men [JURIST report] with rape and murder of the woman. In December the UN released a report declaring that women in Afghanistan [JURIST report] are still suffering abuse at the hands of men. In November the UN urged countries to implement policies that will end violence against women [JURIST report]. Also in November the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation [JURIST report]. At the same time, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report detailing violence and obstacles women are facing in Colombia [JURIST report], where the legal framework is often not properly applied despite the government’s progress in enacting legislation to protect violence against women.