Friday, October 30, 2009

Somali Man Aged 112 Marries 17-Year-Old Virgin

THE internet is alive with news that 112-year-old Ahmed Muhamed Dore has married Safia Abdulleh, age 17, in the Galguduud region of Somalia. Says Dore:
“Today God helped me realise my dream… I didn’t force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love, and then we agreed to marry.”
It’s a cracking story, and one backed up by no proof of wither parties ages, nor of their wedding. There exists no Jeremy Kyle equivalent in Somalia for us to watch the happy couple on the telly. No DNA test can prove the man’s age.
All we get is the story delivered as fact. And we get this gem from the Mail:
Somali adolescent girls are often married off to older men, but it is rare for a man as old as Dhore to marry a girl of Abdulle’s age.
Rare for a man of 112 to marry a teenager. How’s that for insight? Rare for a man to be 112 and find a need of a wife.
The BBC’s Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the marriage in the town of Guriceel is being described by Somalian historians as the first of its kind in the Horn of Africa nation for over a century.
There have been a few 109 year olds and a 105 year old who married a toddler but not a single 112-year–old has married a 17-year-old since Samira Mirza married her toyboy in 1894.
This is kind of sensational, uncorroborated news that the internet loves. One person reports it. Everyone repeats it. It becomes a fact. If you see a source for the story, do tell…

Compared to Methuselah, he probably seemed a good catch. Hundreds of people have attended the wedding of Ahmed Muhamed Dore, who says he is 112, and his bride, aged 17. At the ceremony in central Somalia, Mr Dore - who already has 18 children by five wives - said he would like to have more with his new wife, Safia Abdulleh.

'Today God helped me realise my dream,' he said, after the wedding in the region of Galguduud.

The bride's family said she was 'happy with her new husband'.
Mr Dore said he and his bride - who is young enough to be his great-great-grand-daughter - were from the same village in Somalia and that he had waited for her to grow up to propose.

The marriage in the town of Guriceel is being described by Somalian historians as the first of its kind in the Horn of Africa nation for over a century.

'I didn't force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love; and then we agreed to marry,' Mr Dore was quoted by the BBC as saying.

He said his children and two other wives agreed to the marriage, as did Abdulle's parents.The pair celebrated their marriage late Tuesday in central Somalia before hundreds of guests. Somali adolescent girls are often married off to older men, but it is rare for a man as old as Dhore to marry a girl of Abdulle's age.

Dhore claims to be 112, but there is no way to verify the claim.This marriage was his 6th; three of Dhore's wives have died.

Polygamy is widely practiced in predominantly

Thursday, October 29, 2009

PROTOCOL TO THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES' RIGHTS ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN AFRICA

The States Parties to this Protocol,

CONSIDERING that Article 66 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights provides for special protocols or agreements, if necessary, to supplement the provisions of the African Charter, and that the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity meeting in its Thirty-first Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 1995, endorsed by resolution AHG/Res.240 (XXXI) the recommendation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to elaborate a Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa;

CONSIDERING that Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights enshrines the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status;

FURTHER CONSIDERING that Article 18 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights calls on all States Parties to eliminate every discrimination against women and to ensure the protection of the rights of women as stipulated in international declarations and conventions;

NOTING that Articles 60 and 61 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights recognise regional and international human rights instruments and African practices consistent with international norms on human and peoples' rights as being important reference points for the application and interpretation of the African Charter;

RECALLING that women's rights have been recognised and guaranteed in all international human rights instruments, notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and all other international and regional conventions and covenants relating to the rights of women as being inalienable, interdependent and indivisible human rights;

NOTING that women's rights and women's essential role in development, have been reaffirmed in the United Nations Plans of Action on the Environment and Development in 1992, on Human Rights in 1993, on Population and Development in 1994 and on Social Development in 1995;

RECALLINGALSO United Nations Security Council’s Resolution1325 (2000) on the role of Women in promoting peace and security;

REAFFIRMING the principle of promoting gender equality as enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union as well as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, relevant Declarations, Resolutions and Decisions, which underline the commitment of the African States to ensure the full participation of African women as equal partners in Africa’s development;

FURTHER NOTING that the African Platform for Action and the Dakar Declaration of 1994 and the Beijing Platform for Action of 1995 call on all Member States of the United Nations, which have made a solemn commitment to implement them, to take concrete steps to give greater attention to the human rights of women in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination and of gender-based violence against women;

RECOGNISING the crucial role of women in the preservation of African values based on the principles of equality, peace, freedom, dignity, justice, solidarity and democracy;

BEARING IN MIND related Resolutions, Declarations, Recommendations, Decisions, Conventions and other Regional and Sub-Regional Instruments aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination and at promoting equality between women and men;

CONCERNED that despite the ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other international human rights instruments by the majority of States Parties, and their solemn commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination and harmful practices against women, women in Africa still continue to be victims of discrimination and harmful practices;

FIRMLY CONVINCED that any practice that hinders or endangers the normal growth and affects the physical and psychological development of women and girls should be condemned and eliminated;

DETERMINED to ensure that the rights of women are promoted, realised and protected in order to enable them to enjoy fully all their human rights;

HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS:

Article 1
Definitions
For the purpose of the present Protocol:
a) "African Charter" means the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights;
b) "African Commission" means the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights;
"Assembly" means the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union;

“AU” means the African Union;

‘‘Constitutive Act’’ means the Constitutive Act of the African Union;

"Discrimination against women" means any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all spheres of life;

"Harmful Practices" means all behaviour, attitudes and/or practices which negatively affect the fundamental rights of women and girls, such as their right to life, health, dignity, education and physical integrity;

‘‘NEPAD’’ means the New Partnership for Africa’s Development established by the Assembly;

"States Parties" means the States Parties to this Protocol;

"Violence against women" means all acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts; or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace time and during situations of armed conflicts or of war;

“Women” means persons of female gender, including girls;

Article 2
Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
1. States Parties shall combat all forms of discrimination against women through appropriate legislative, institutional and other measures. In this regard they shall:
a) include in their national constitutions and other legislative instruments, if not already done, the principle of equality between women and men and ensure its effective application;
b) enact and effectively implement appropriate legislative or regulatory measures, including those prohibiting and curbing all forms of discrimination particularly those harmful practices which endanger the health and general well-being of women;

c) integrate a gender perspective in their policy decisions, legislation, development plans, programmes and activities and in all other spheres of life;
d) take corrective and positive action in those areas where discrimination against women in law and in fact continues to exist;
e) support the local, national, regional and continental initiatives directed at eradicating all forms of discrimination against women.
2. States Parties shall commit themselves to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of women and men through public education, information, education and communication strategies, with a view to achieving the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes, or on stereotyped roles for women and men.
Article 3
Right to Dignity

Every woman shall have the right to dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition and protection of her human and legal rights;

Every woman shall have the right to respect as a person and to the free development of her personality;

States Parties shall adopt and implement appropriate measures to prohibit any exploitation or degradation of women;

States Parties shall adopt and implement appropriatemeasures to ensure the protection of every woman’s right to respect for her dignity and protection of women from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and verbal violence.

Article 4

The Rights to Life, Integrity and Security of the Person

1. Every woman shall be entitled to respect for her life and the integrity and security of her person. All forms of exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.
2. States Parties shall take appropriate and effective measures to:

a) enact and enforce laws to prohibit all forms of violence against women including unwanted or forced sex whether the violence takes place in private or public;

b) adopt such other legislative, administrative, social and economic measures as may be necessary to ensure the prevention, punishment and eradication of all forms of violence against women;
c) identify the causes and consequences of violence against women and take appropriate measures to prevent and eliminate such violence;
d) actively promote peace education through curricula and social communication in order to eradicate elements in traditional and cultural beliefs, practices and stereotypes which legitimise and exacerbate the persistence and tolerance of violence against women;

e) punish the perpetrators of violence against women and implement programmes for the rehabilitation of women victims;
f) establish mechanisms and accessible services for effective information, rehabilitation and reparation for victims of violence against women;
g) prevent and condemn trafficking in women, prosecute the perpetrators of such trafficking and protect those women most at risk;

prohibit all medical or scientific experiments on women without their informed consent;

provide adequate budgetary and other resources for the implementation and monitoring of actions aimed at preventing and eradicating violence against women;

ensure that, in those countries where the death penalty still exists, not to carry out death sentences on pregnant or nursing women.

e nsure that women and men enjoy equal rights in terms of access to refugee status, determination procedures and that women refugees are accorded the full protection and benefits guaranteed under international refugee law, including their own identity and other documents;

Article 5
Elimination of Harmful Practices
States Parties shall prohibit and condemn all forms of harmful practices which negatively affect the human rights of women and which are contrary to recognised international standards. States Parties shall take all necessary legislative and other measures to eliminate such practices, including:
creation of public awareness in all sectors of society regarding harmful practices through information, formal and informal education and outreach programmes;

prohibition, through legislative measures backed by sanctions, of all forms of female genital mutilation, scarification, medicalisation and para-medicalisation of female genital mutilation and all other practices in order to eradicate them;

provision of necessary support to victims of harmful practices through basic services such as health services, legal and judicialsupport, emotional and psychological counselling as well as vocational training to make them self-supporting;

protection of women who are at risk of being subjected to harmful practices or all other forms of violence, abuse and intolerance.

Article 6
Marriage
States Parties shall ensure that women and men enjoy equal rights and are regarded as equal partners in marriage. They shall enact appropriate national legislative measures to guarantee that:
no marriage shall take place without the free and full consent of both parties;

the minimum age of marriage for women shall be 18 years;

monogamy is encouraged as the preferred form of marriage and that the rights of women in marriage and family, including in polygamous marital relationships are promoted and protected;

every marriage shall be recorded in writing and registered in accordance with national laws, in order to be legally recognised;

the husband and wife shall, by mutual agreement, choose their matrimonial regime and place of residence;

a married woman shall have the right to retain her maiden name, to use it as she pleases, jointly or separately with her husband's surname;

a woman shall have the right to retain her nationality or to acquire the nationality of her husband;

a woman and a man shall have equal rights, with respect to the nationality of their children except where this is contrary to a provision in national legislation or is contrary to national security interests;

a woman and a man shall jointly contribute to safeguarding the interests of the family, protecting and educating their children;

during her marriage, a woman shall have the right to acquire her own property and to administer and manage it freely.

Article 7

Separation, Divorce and Annulment of Marriage
States Parties shall enact appropriate legislation to ensure that women and men enjoy the same rights in case of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage. In this regard, they shall ensure that:
separation, divorce or annulment of a marriage shall be effected by judicial order;

women and men shall have the same rights to seek separation, divorce or annulment of a marriage;

in case of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage, women and men shall have reciprocalrights and responsibilities towards their children. In any case, the interests of the children shall be given paramount importance;

in case of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage, women and menshall have the right to an equitable sharing of the joint property deriving from the marriage.

Article 8
Access to Justice and Equal Protection before the Law

Women and menare equal before the law and shall have the right to equal protection andbenefit of the law. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure:

effective access by women to judicial and legal services, including legal aid;

support to local, national, regional and continental initiatives directed at providing women access to legal services, including legal aid;

the establishment of adequate educational and other appropriate structures with particular attention to women and to sensitise everyone to the rights of women;

that law enforcement organs at all levels are equipped to effectively interpret and enforce gender equality rights;

that women are represented equally in the judiciary and law enforcement organs;

reform of existing discriminatory laws and practices in order to promote and protect the rights of women.

Article 9
Right to Participation in the Political
and Decision-Making Process

1. States Parties shall take specific positive action to promote participative governance and the equal participation of women in the political life of their countries through affirmative action, enabling national legislation and other measures to ensure that:
a) women participate without any discrimination in all elections;
b) women are represented equally at all levels with men in all electoral processes;

c) women are equal partners with men at all levels of development and implementation of State policies and development programmes .
2. States Parties shall ensure increased and effective representation and participation of women at all levels of decision-making.
Article 10
Right to Peace

1. Women have the right to a peaceful existence and the right to participate in the promotion and maintenance of peace.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the increased participation of women:

a) in programmes of education for peace and a culture of peace;
b) in the structures and processes for conflict prevention, management and resolution at local, national, regional, continental and international levels;

in the local, national, regional, continental and international decision making structures to ensure physical, psychological, social and legal protection of asylum seekers, refugees, returnees and displaced persons, in particular women;

in all levels of the structures established for the management of camps and settlements for asylum seekers, refugees, returnees and displaced persons, in particular, women;

in all aspects of planning, formulation and implementation of post conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.

3. States Parties shall take the necessary measures to reduce military expenditure significantly in favour of spending on social development in general, and the promotion of women in particular.

Article 11
Protection of Women in Armed Conflicts
States Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflict situations which affect the population, particularly women.

States Parties shall, in accordance with the obligations incumbent upon them under the international humanitarian law, protect civilians including women, irrespective of the population to which theybelong, in the event of armedconflict.

States Parties undertake to protect asylum seeking women, refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons, against all forms of violence, rape and other forms of sexual exploitation, and to ensure that such acts are considered war crimes, genocide and/or crimes against humanity and that their perpetrators are brought to justice before a competent criminal jurisdiction.

States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure that no child, especially girls under 18 years of age, take a direct part in hostilities and thatno child is recruited as a soldier.

Article 12
Right to Education and Training
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to:
a) eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and guarantee equal opportunity and access in the sphere of education and training;
b) eliminate all stereotypes in textbooks, syllabuses and the media, that perpetuate such discrimination;
protect women, especially the girl-child from all forms of abuse, including sexual harassment in schools and other educational institutions and provide for sanctions against the perpetrators of such practices;

provide access to counselling and rehabilitation services to women who suffer abuses and sexual harassment;

integrate gender sensitisation and human rights education at all levels of education curricula including teacher training.

2. States Parties shall take specific positive action to:
a) promote literacy among women;
b) promote education and training for women at all levels and in all disciplines, particularly in the fields of science and technology;
c) promote the enrolment and retention of girls in schools and other training institutions and the organisation of programmes for women who leave school prematurely.
Article 13
Economic and Social Welfare Rights
States Parties shall adopt and enforce legislative and other measures to guarantee womenequal opportunities in work and career advancement and other economic opportunities. In this respect, they shall:

a) promote equality of access to employment;
b) promote the right to equal remuneration for jobs of equal value for women and men;
c) ensure transparency in recruitment, promotion and dismissal of women and combat and punish sexual harassment in the workplace;
d) guarantee women the freedom to choose their occupation, and protect them from exploitation by their employers violating and exploiting their fundamental rights as recognised and guaranteed by conventions, laws and regulations in force;
e) create conditions to promote and support the occupations and economic activities of women, in particular, within the informal sector;

establish a system of protection and social insurance for women working in the informal sector and sensitise them to adhere to it;

g) introduce a minimum age for work and prohibit the employment of children below that age, andprohibit, combat and punish all forms of exploitation of children, especially the girl-child;
h) take the necessary measures to recognise the economic value of the work of women in the home;
i) guarantee adequate and paid pre and post-natal maternity leave in both the private and public sectors;
j) ensure the equal application of taxation laws to women and men;
k) recognise and enforce the right of salaried women to the same allowances and entitlements as those granted to salaried men for their spouses and children;

l) recognise that both parents bear the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of children and that this is a social function for which the State and the private sector have secondary responsibility;
m) take effective legislative and administrative measures to prevent the exploitation and abuse of women in advertising and pornography.
Article 14
Health and Reproductive Rights

1. States Parties shall ensure that the right to health of women, including sexual and reproductive health is respected and promoted. This includes:
the right to control their fertility;

the right to decide whether to have children, the number of children and the spacing of children;

c) the right to choose any method of contraception;

d) the right toselfprotectionand to be protected against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS;
e) the right to be informed on one's health status and on the health status of one's partner, particularly if affected with sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, in accordance with internationally recognised standards and best practices;
the right to have family planning education.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to:
a) provide adequate, affordable and accessible health services, including information, education and communication programmes to women especially those in rural areas;

b) establish and strengthen existing pre-natal, delivery and post-natal health and nutritional services for women during pregnancy andwhile they are breast-feeding;

c) protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of themother or the foetus.

Article 15
Right to Food Security
a) provide women with access to clean drinking water, sources of domestic fuel, land, and the means of producing nutritious food;
b) establish adequate systems of supply and storage to ensure food security.

Article 16
Right to Adequate Housing
Women shall have the right to equal access to housing and to acceptable living conditions in a healthy environment. To ensure this right, States Parties shall grant to women, whatever their marital status, access to adequate housing.
Article 17
Right to Positive Cultural Context

1. Women shall have the right to live in a positive cultural context and to participate at all levels in the determination of cultural policies.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to enhance the participation of women in the formulation of cultural policies at all levels.
Article 18
Right to a Healthy and Sustainable Environment
1. Women shall have the right to live in a healthy and sustainable environment.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to:

a) ensure greater participation of women in the planning, management and preservation of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources at all levels;
promote research and investment in new and renewable energy sources and appropriate technologies, including information technologies and facilitate women's access to, and participation in their control;

protect and enable the development of women’s indigenous knowledge systems;

c) regulate the management, processing, storage and disposal of domestic waste;
ensure that proper standards are followed for the storage, transportation and disposal of toxic waste.

Article 19

Right to Sustainable Development

Women shall have the right to fully enjoy their right to sustainable development. In this connection, the States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to:
a) introduce the gender perspective in the national development planning procedures;

b) ensure participation of women at all levels in the conceptualisation, decision-making, implementation and evaluation of development policies and programmes;
promote women’s access to and control over productive resources such as land and guarantee their right to property;

promote women’s access to credit, training, skills development and extension services at rural and urban levels in order to provide women with a higher quality of life and reduce the level of poverty among women;

take into account indicators of human development specifically relating to women in the elaboration of development policies and programmes; and

ensure that the negative effects of globalisation and any adverse effects of the implementation of trade and economic policies and programmes are reduced to the minimum for women.

Article 20
Widows' Rights
States Parties shall take appropriate legal measures to ensure that widows enjoy all human rights through the implementation of the following provisions:
a) that widows are not subjected to inhuman, humiliating or degrading treatment;
b) a widow shall automatically become the guardian and custodian of her children, after the death of her husband, unless this is contrary to the interests and the welfare of the children;
c) a widow shall have the right to remarry, and in that event, to marry the person of her choice.
Article 21
Right to Inheritance

1. A widow shall have the right to an equitable share in the inheritance of the property of her husband. A widow shall have the right to continue to live in the matrimonial house. In case of remarriage, she shall retain this right if the house belongs to her or she has inherited it.
2. Women and men shall have the right to inherit, in equitable shares, their parents' properties.
Article 22
Special Protection of Elderly Women

The States Parties undertake to:
provide protection to elderly women and take specific measures commensurate with their physical, economic and social needs as well as their access to employment and professional training;

ensure the right of elderly women to freedom from violence, including sexual abuse, discrimination based on age and the right to be treated with dignity.

Article 23
Special Protection of Women with Disabilities

The States Parties undertake to:
ensure the protection of women with disabilities and take specific measures commensurate with their physical, economic and social needs to facilitate their access to employment, professional and vocational training as well as their participation in decision-making;

ensure the right of women with disabilities to freedom from violence, including sexual abuse, discrimination based on disability and the right to be treated with dignity.

Article 24
Special Protection of Women in Distress
The States Parties undertake to:
ensure the protection of poor women and women heads of families including women from marginalized population groups and provide the an environment suitable to their condition and their special physical, economic and social needs;

ensure the right of pregnant or nursing women or women in detention by providing them with an environment which is suitable to their condition and the right to be treated with dignity.

Article 25

Remedies
States Parties shall undertake to:
providefor appropriate remedies to any woman whose rights or freedoms, as herein recognised, have been violated;

ensure that such remedies are determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by law.

Article 26
Implementation and Monitoring

States Parties shall ensure the implementation of this Protocol at national level, and in their periodic reports submitted in accordance with Article 62 of the African Charter, indicate the legislative and other measures undertaken for the full realisation of the rights herein recognised.

States Parties undertake to adopt all necessary measures and in particular shall provide budgetary and other resources for the full and effective implementation of the rights herein recognised.

Article 27
Interpretation
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights shall be seized with matters of interpretation arising from the application or implementation of this Protocol.

Article 28

Signature, Ratification and Accession

1. This Protocol shall be open for signature, ratification and accession by the States Parties, in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures.
2. The instruments of ratification or accession shall be deposited with the Chairperson of the Commission of the AU.
Article 29
Entry into Force
1. This Protocol shall enter into force thirty (30) days after the deposit of the fifteenth (15) instrument of ratification.

2. For each State Party that accedes to this Protocol after its coming into force, the Protocol shall come into force on the date of deposit of the instrument of accession.
3. The Chairperson of the Commission of the AU shall notify all Member Statesof the coming into force of this Protocol.
Article 30
Amendment and Revision

1. Any State Party may submit proposals for the amendment or revision of this Protocol.

2. Proposals for amendment or revision shall be submitted, in writing, to the Chairperson of the Commission of the AU who shall transmit the same to the States Parties within thirty (30) days of receipt thereof.
3. The Assembly, upon advice of the African Commission, shall examine these proposals within a period of one (1) year following notification of States Parties, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article.
4. Amendments or revision shall be adopted by the Assembly by a simple majority.
5. The amendment shall come into force for each State Party, which has accepted it thirty (30) days after the Chairperson of the Commission of the AU has received notice of the acceptance.
Article 31
Status of the Present Protocol
None of the provisions of the present Protocol shall affect more favourable provisions for the realisation of the rights of women contained in the national legislation of States Parties or in any other regional, continental or international conventions, treaties or agreements applicable in these States Parties.
Article 32
Transitional Provisions

Pending the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights shall be the seized with matters of interpretation arising from the application and implementation of this Protocol.

Adopted by the 2nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union

Maputo , 11 July 2003

Female Genital Mutilation Report by the WHO Secretariat

1. Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. It has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and hence interferes with the natural functioning of girls’ and women’s bodies. The practice causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences, including an increased risk of maternal morbidity and an increase in prenatal mortality rate among babies born to women who have undergone the practice.
2. It is estimated that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to type I, II or III procedures and that about a million girls and women are at risk of undergoing one of these types every year in Africa. Female genital mutilation has been documented in 28 countries in Africa and in several countries in Asia and the Middle East. Some forms of the practice have also been reported from other countries, including among certain ethnic groups in Central and South America. Although no prevalence data are available, there is evidence of increasing numbers of girls and women living outside their place of origin, including in North America and Western Europe, who have undergone or may undergo female genital mutilation in their host country.

3. Over the past two or three decades, local, national and international actors have significantly increased their efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation, and have made progress on several fronts. The practice is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights, and many countries support the practice. Research findings have increase knowledge about the practice itself and the reasons for its continuation, as well as experience with interventions that can contribute to its abandonment. Advocacy at the international level has created a momentum suggesting that it is possible to significantly rid the prevalence of female genital mutilation within one generation.
4. Following the adoption of resolution WHA47.10 by the Health Assembly in 1994, on traditional practice (including female genital mutilation) harmful to the health of women and children, the Secretariat has provided increased technical support to Member States for preventing the practice and managing its consequences. Such support has included the elaboration and dissemination of a series of guidance documents on the prevention and management of the practice’s health complications for use of policy, programmatic and pre-service training levels.
5. The results of a WHO study in six African countries on the obstetric sequelae of female genital mutilation¹ showed that deliveries among women who have undergone the practice (compare with deliveries among women who had not) were significantly more likely to be complicated by caesarean section, post-partum haemorrhage, episiotomies and prolonged stay in hospital. In addition, babies born to mothers who had undergone the practice (compared with babies born to mothers who have not) had a greater risk of dying during birth or of needing resuscitation immediately after birth.
6. WHO’s ongoing support for research on female genital mutilation includes assessments of how community-based interventions that are successful can be replicated elsewhere, of the elements in decision-making that contribute to continuation or abandonment of the practice, and of the role played by perceptions of women’s sexuality in the continuation of the practice. The Secretariat intends, over the next five years, to evaluate the economic costs of female genital mutilation, both immediate medical costs and long-term costs of morbidities and psychological consequences. It will also appraise the effects of legal measures. It plans to develop web-based and other audiovisual media for the training of health professionals to prevent female genital mutilation where possible, and to successfully manage its health consequences in women, girls and newborn babies.
7. All the WHO regional offices in regions where the practice is prevalent are engaged in activities aimed at eliminating it. Since 1989, when the Regional Committee for Africa in resolution AFR/RC39/R9 called on Member States to adopt appropriate policies and strategies to eliminate female circumcision, that Regional Office has supported its Member States in programmes for the elimination of the practice, in line with its 20-year Regional Plan of Action to Accelerate the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation in Africa. In South-East Asia, the Regional Office works with the Ministry of Health in Indonesia, which is concerned about the increasing tendency for female genital mutilation to be practiced by health professionals. In Europe, there are concerns about female genital mutilation among immigrant populations, and the Regional Office is providing guidance to Member States with regard to health care and the law governing female genital mutilation. The regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean has produced guidance’s on the elimination of female genital mutilation.

8. Nonetheless, the rate of progress towards a significant decline in the practice is slow. In some countries there appears to be an increasing tendency for female genital mutilation to be carried out by health professionals, a development that is of particular concern. Thus, there is an urgent need to reinforce actions, commitment and resources to achieve the goal of eliminating the practice within one generation.
9. WHO is therefore coordinating the revision of the 1997 WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF joint statement on female genital mutilation to reinforce international commitment in the fight to eliminate the practice? Officially launched in February 2008 during the Fifty-second session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Commission on the Status of Women, the revised interagency statement reflects new evidence and incorporates lessons learnt over the post decade. It highlights the now-extensive recognition of the human rights and legal dimensions of the problem. It also summarizes findings from recent research on the prevalence of female genital mutilation, the reasons why the practice continues, and its damaging effects on the health of women, girls and newborn babies. It points to a series of actions that need to be undertaken by a variety of different actors. The joint statement is the result of extensive consultation with different international, regional and national parties, and 10 other United Nations bodies have signed the statement (UNESCO, WHO, UNICEF, United Nations Economic commission for Africa, UNDP, UNHCR, UNFPA, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, United Nations Development Fund for Women, and UNAIDS).
10. At its 122nd session, the Executive Board strongly supports strengthening efforts at national, regional and international levels to eliminate female genital mutilation, a practice that violates women’s and girls’ human rights. Several members expressed particular concern about the increasing tendency for female genital mutilation to be done by health professionals and underline WHO’s role in working to reverse and halt this the practice. Although the Board was unanimous in its support of the draft resolution, members could not agree on the final wording of some the proposed amendments. Therefore two paragraphs in the draft resolution submitted to the Health Assembly for its consideration contained bracketed text.
ACTION BY THE HEALTH ASSEMBLY
11. The Health Assembly is invited to consider the draft resolution contained in resolution EB122.R13.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Manneh Kunda Declares End To Female Genital Cutting

The following is an account of the declaration at Manneh Kunda on October 25, 2009.

Tostan-Unicef and the Gambia Government community-led sustainable development project, currently under implementation in URR have once again demonstrated its commitment to the empowerment of the Gambian rural communities, following a declaration made by over thirteen communities including adopted communities in Basse and Jimara to abandon the practice of female genital cutting, and child forced marriages at a ceremony held at Basse Manneh Kunda. The ceremony was well attended by the dignitaries in URR, TAC members, local and influential leaders, traditional communicators, as well as the entire business community in Basse.


In his welcoming remarks, the Alkalo of Manneh Kunda, Alasana Kebba Manneh in a very joyful mood, welcomed the participants and thanked them for uniting the community of Manneh Kunda and pledged to abandon some harmful traditions that have negative health implications for women and young girls. This according to Alkalo Manneh is an indication that Tostan is one family.

For his part, the VDC Chairman Mr. Manlafi Sanyang said that the ceremony is historic as far as development and respect for human rights is concerned; that it is a clear manifestation that the knowledge gained through Tostan is being put into practice. He thanked them for their efforts and urged them to be more committed.

The chairman of the piloting committee also welcomed the participants on what he called a landmark victory in the history of Manneh Kunda as the thirteen communities in Basse and Jimara openly declared that they will abandon harmful traditions. He said this bold decision taken by the participating communities occurred after an intensive three year Community Empowerment Program (CEP), jointly implemented by UNICEF-Tostan and the Gambia Government. He stressed that Tostan is not only focusing on FGC, but a holisitc approach focusing on issues of democracy and good governance, human rights and responsibilities, problem solving processes, health and hygiene, as well as literacy and numeracy and an introduction to small project management among a host of others. He pointed out that regular cleaning exer initiated and implemented by the Tostan communities is a step in the right direction and is consolidating ‘Operation Clean the Nation’. He said Tostan cannot achieve all these successes without the support of the Government. He therefore thanked the Governor of URR Alhagie Omar Khan and TAC members for their active collaboration. He thanked the founding mother of Tostan International Madame Molly Melching known as Sukaina Njie inSenegal for her unflinching support, tireless efforts and dedication towards the empowerment of African communities. He said the success of any development project depends on the availability of funds.

Mr. Momodou Lamin Fofana who represented the Regional Health Officer commended the participants for their decision to protect the health of young girls. This according to him will no doubt complement the efforts of the government and department of Health in improving the health of the citizenry especially women and young girls. He urged them to be more committed to their decision. Mr. Yadi Nget the Regional Family Planning coordinator in URR who represented the Governor underscored the importance of protecting our young generation and future leaders. According to Mr. Nget he has been working in the area of reproductive health for nearly twenty years but said the effects of FGC and child/forced marriage on the health of women cannot be overemphasized. He therefore thanked the communities and Tostan for their efforts to improve the health of our young generation.

Speaking on behalf of the UNICEF, representative Madame Mariama Sabally, a UN Volunteer highlighted that the issue of FGC is controversial since many agencies and NGOs attempted to introduce the subject across Gambian communities but were met with stiff resistance. This she said is due to long standing cultural and traditional beliefs rooted in our societies. According to Mariama Sabally, the approach used by Tostan is exceptional as evidenced by the declaration. She pointed out that UNICEF is very proud to witness yet another important event on the abandonment of FGC and child/forced marriage by the thirteen communities in Jimara and Basse, which she said is preceded by the declaration of twenty-four communities in Wuli and Sandu on the same subject. She thanked Tostan on behalf of UNICEF for their efforts in achieving its desired objectives. This she said is in line with the PRSP as well as MDGs. She urged other development partners to integrate Tostan's approaches in their activities while commending the thirteen communities in Basse and Jimara for their foresight in committing themselves to abandoning such harmful traditions.
For the benefit of the readers: Globally, an estimated 100-140 million girls and women are reported to have undergone FGC and more than 3 million girls will potentially go through this procedure every year on the African continent alone. It is reported to be practiced in 28 African countries and the Gambia has one of the highest rates at 78% among women 15-49 (MICS 2005/6), which is one of the reasons for the expansion of the project and its piloting in the URR. It has been linked to serious physical and mental health risks for girls and women including complications at child birth, maternal deaths, infertility, infections, and tetanus among others.

About the 16 Days

The "16 Days of Activism: No Violence Against Women" is a United Nations campaign. It takes place each year between 25 November (International Day of No Violence Against Women) and 10 December (International Human Rights Day).


Governments and organisations across the world, participate in this campaign to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse has on women and children. Abuse can be in the form of rape, child abuse, sexual harassment and emotional abuse. The aim is to rid society of this abuse permanently.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.


The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:

1.raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels

2.strengthening local work around violence against women

3.establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women

4.providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies

5.demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women

6.creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.

Over 2,000 organizations in approximately 156 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign since 1991!
The Annual Theme

Every year, CWGL composes a Campaign theme in consultation with women's human rights advocates worldwide and then circulates an announcement for the campaign as widely as possible. Over the years, Campaign themes have included: "Violence Against Women Violates Human Rights" (1991/1992), "Democracy without Women's Human Rights . . . is not Democracy" (1993), "Awareness, Accountability, Action: Violence Against Women Violates Human Rights" (1994), "Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing: Bringing Women's Human Rights Home" (1995), "Demand Women's Human Rights in the Home and in the World" (1997), "Building a Culture of Respect for Human Rights" (1998), "Fulfilling the Promise of Freedom from Violence" (1999), "Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Campaign" (2000), "Racism and Sexism: No More Violence" (2001), "Creating a Culture That Says 'No' to Violence Against Women" (2002), "Violence Against Women Violates Human Rights: Maintaining the Momentum Ten Years After Vienna (1993-2003)" (2003), "For the Health of Women, For the Health of the World: No More Violence," (2004-2005), "Celebrate 16 Years of 16 Days: Advance Human Rights ‹—› End Violence Against Women" (2006), "Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women!" (2007), "Human Rights for Women ‹—› Human Rights for All: UDHR60" (2008), and in 2009:

2008 Campaign Theme : "Dont Look Away - Act Against Abuse"


The Objectives of the Campaign are to:
•Increase the level of awareness amongst South Africans on the high incidence of violence committed against women and children, how it manifests itself within South African society and the negative impact on these vulnerable groups

•Challenge perpetrators to change their behaviour.

•Enhance and increase partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society, organised labour, sectoral groups, the faith based organisations, the media (electronic and print) and the diplomatic community in an effort to spread the message

•Align with events and themes in both the national and international programme, which focuses on matters relating to Women’s Human Rights

•Raise funds for NGOs that work within the sector, providing invaluable support to the victims and survivors of violence;

•Communicate through the most effective and appropriate channels aiming to reach the maximum number of people across the country, articularly women and children residing in rural areas;

•Engage actively (re-educate, resocialise) with men and boys in the discourse on combating violence in our homes, our communities and in the workplace; and

•Highlight the stories of survivors of gender-based violence and the impact that the campaign has had on their lives.

•Strengthen relationships beyond the South African borders around the elimination of violence against women and children;

•Create awareness of the link between HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.




 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

INTRODUCTION


On 18 December 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It entered into force as an international treaty on 3 September 1981 after the twentieth country had ratified it. By the tenth anniversary of the Convention in 1989, almost one hundred nations have agreed to be bound by its provisions.

The Convention was the culmination of more than thirty years of work by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a body established in 1946 to monitor the situation of women and to promote women's rights. The Commission's work has been instrumental in bringing to light all the areas in which women are denied equality with men. These efforts for the advancement of women have resulted in several declarations and conventions, of which the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is the central and most comprehensive document.
Among the international human rights treaties, the Convention takes an important place in bringing the female half of humanity into the focus of human rights concerns. The spirit of the Convention is rooted in the goals of the United Nations: to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity,v and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women. The present document spells out the meaning of equality and how it can be achieved. In so doing, the Convention establishes not only an international bill of rights for women, but also an agenda for action by countries to guarantee the enjoyment of those rights.
In its preamble, the Convention explicitly acknowledges that "extensive discrimination against women continues to exist", and emphasizes that such discrimination "violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity". As defined in article 1, discrimination is understood as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made o.1 the basis of sex...in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field". The Convention gives positive affirmation to the principle of equality by requiring States parties to take "all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men"(article 3).

The agenda for equality is specified in fourteen subsequent articles. In its approach, the Convention covers three dimensions of the situation of women. Civil rights and the legal status of women are dealt with in great detail. In addition, and unlike other human rights treaties, the Convention is also concerned with the dimension of human reproduction as well as with the impact of cultural factors on gender relations.

The legal status of women receives the broadest attention. Concern over the basic rights of political participation has not diminished since the adoption of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women in 1952. Its provisions, therefore, are restated in article 7 of the present document, whereby women are guaranteed the rights to vote, to hold public office and to exercise public functions. This includes equal rights for women to represent their countries at the international level (article 8). The Convention on the Nationality of Married Women - adopted in 1957 - is integrated under article 9 providing for the statehood of women, irrespective of their marital status. The Convention, thereby, draws attention to the fact that often women's legal status has been linked to marriage, making them dependent on their husband's nationality rather than individuals in their own right. Articles 10, 11 and 13, respectively, affirm women's rights to non-discrimination in education, employment and economic and social activities. These demands are given special emphasis with regard to the situation of rural women, whose particular struggles and vital economic contributions, as noted in article 14, warrant more attention in policy planning. Article 15 asserts the full equality of women in civil and business matters, demanding that all instruments directed at restricting women's legal capacity ''shall be deemed null and void". Finally, in article 16, the Convention returns to the issue of marriage and family relations, asserting the equal rights and obligations of women and men with regard to choice of spouse, parenthood, personal rights and command over property.

Aside from civil rights issues, the Convention also devotes major attention to a most vital concern of women, namely their reproductive rights. The preamble sets the tone by stating that "the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination". The link between discrimination and women's reproductive role is a matter of recurrent concern in the Convention. For example, it advocates, in article 5, ''a proper understanding of maternity as a social function", demanding fully shared responsibility for child-rearing by both sexes. Accordingly, provisions for maternity protection and child-care are proclaimed as essential rights and are incorporated into all areas of the Convention, whether dealing with employment, family law, health core or education. Society's obligation extends to offering social services, especially child-care facilities, that allow individuals to combine family responsibilities with work and participation in public life. Special measures for maternity protection are recommended and "shall not be considered discriminatory". (article 4). "The Convention also affirms women's right to reproductive choice. Notably, it is the only human rights treaty to mention family planning. States parties are obliged to include advice on family planning in the education process (article l O.h) and to develop family codes that guarantee women's rights "to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to hove access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights" (article 16.e).

The third general thrust of the Convention aims at enlarging our understanding of the concept of human rights, as it gives formal recognition to the influence of culture and tradition on restricting women's enjoyment of their fundamental rights. These forces take shape in stereotypes, customs and norms which give rise to the multitude of legal, political and economic constraints on the advancement of women. Noting this interrelationship, the preamble of the Convention stresses "that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality of men and women". States parties are therefore obliged to work towards the modification of social and cultural patterns of individual conduct in order to eliminate "prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women" (article 5). And Article 1O.c. mandates the revision of textbooks, school programmes and teaching methods with a view to eliminating stereotyped concepts in the field of education. Finally, cultural patterns which define the public realm as a man's world and the domestic sphere as women's domain are strongly targeted in all of the Convention's provisions that affirm the equal responsibilities of both sexes in family life and their equal rights with regard to education and employment. Altogether, the Convention provides a comprehensive framework for challenging the various forces that have created and sustained discrimination based upon sex.
The implementation of the Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Committee's mandate and the administration of the treaty are defined in the Articles 17 to 30 of the Convention. The Committee is composed of 23 experts nominated by their Governments and elected by the States parties as individuals "of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention".
At least every four years, the States parties are expected to submit a national report to the Committee, indicating the measures they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the Convention. During its annual session, the Committee members discuss these reports with the Government representatives and explore with them areas for further action by the specific country. The Committee also makes general recommendations to the States parties on matters concerning the elimination of discrimination against women.

The full text of the Convention is set out herein

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CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
The States Parties to the present Convention,

Noting that the Charter of the United Nations reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women,

Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex,

Noting that the States Parties to the International Covenants on Human Rights have the obligation to ensure the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights,

Considering the international conventions concluded under the auspices of the United Nations and the specialized agencies promoting equality of rights of men and women,
Noting also the resolutions, declarations and recommendations adopted by the United Nations and the specialized agencies promoting equality of rights of men and women,
Concerned, however, that despite these various instruments extensive discrimination against women continues to exist,
Recalling that discrimination against women violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity, is an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their countries, hampers the growth of the prosperity of society and the family and makes more difficult the full development of the potentialities of women in the service of their countries and of humanity,
Concerned that in situations of poverty women have the least access to food, health, education, training and opportunities for employment and other needs,

Convinced that the establishment of the new international economic order based on equity and justice will contribute significantly towards the promotion of equality between men and women,

Emphasizing that the eradication of apartheid, all forms of racism, racial discrimination, colonialism, neo-colonialism, aggression, foreign occupation and domination and interference in the internal affairs of States is essential to the full enjoyment of the rights of men and women,
Affirming that the strengthening of international peace and security, the relaxation of international tension, mutual co-operation among all States irrespective of their social and economic systems, general and complete disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control, the affirmation of the principles of justice, equality and mutual benefit in relations among countries and the realization of the right of peoples under alien and colonial domination and foreign occupation to self-determination and independence, as well as respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, will promote social progress and development and as a consequence will contribute to the attainment of full equality between men and women,

Convinced that the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields,

Bearing in mind the great contribution of women to the welfare of the family and to the development of society, so far not fully recognized, the social significance of maternity and the role of both parents in the family and in the upbringing of children, and aware that the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination but that the upbringing of children requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society as a whole,
Aware that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men and women,
Determined to implement the principles set forth in the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and, for that purpose, to adopt the measures required for the elimination of such discrimination in all its forms and manifestations,

Have agreed on the following:

PART I Article I
For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Article 2

States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake:

(a) To embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle;

(b) To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women;
(c) To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination;
(d) To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation;
(e) To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise;
(f) To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;
(g) To repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.
Article 3

States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to en sure the full development and advancement of women , for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.

Article 4

1. Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.

2. Adoption by States Parties of special measures, including those measures contained in the present Convention, aimed at protecting maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.
Article 5

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

(a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women;

(b) To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all cases.
Article 6

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.

PART II Article 7

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:

(a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies;

(b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;
(c) To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.

Article 8

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.

Article 9

1. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon her the nationality of the husband.

2. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.
PART III Article 10

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

(a) The same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to studies and for the achievement of diplomas in educational establishments of all categories in rural as well as in urban areas; this equality shall be ensured in pre-school, general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training;

(b) Access to the same curricula, the same examinations, teaching staff with qualifications of the same standard and school premises and equipment of the same quality;
(c) The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods;


(d ) The same opportunities to benefit from scholarships and other study grants;


(e) The same opportunities for access to programmes of continuing education, including adult and functional literacy programmes, particulary those aimed at reducing, at the earliest possible time, any gap in education existing between men and women;


(f) The reduction of female student drop-out rates and the organization of programmes for girls and women who have left school prematurely;


(g) The same Opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education;
(h) Access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning.
Article 11

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

(a) The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;

(b) The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment;
(c) The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training;

(d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;
(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave;

(f) The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction.


2. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:

(a) To prohibit, subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and discrimination in dismissals on the basis of marital status;

(b) To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances;
(c) To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities;
(d) To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful to them.


3. Protective legislation relating to matters covered in this article shall be reviewed periodically in the light of scientific and technological knowledge and shall be revised, repealed or extended as necessary.

Article 12

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.



Article 13

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

(a) The right to family benefits;

(b) The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit;



(c) The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.



Article 14

1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the present Convention to women in rural areas.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:



(a) To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;

(b) To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counselling and services in family planning;



(c) To benefit directly from social security programmes;



(d) To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, including that relating to functional literacy, as well as, inter alia, the benefit of all community and extension services, in order to increase their technical proficiency;



(e) To organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self employment;



(f) To participate in all community activities;



(g) To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;



(h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.



PART IV Article 15



1. States Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law.

2. States Parties shall accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity. In particular, they shall give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property and shall treat them equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals.



3. States Parties agree that all contracts and all other private instruments of any kind with a legal effect which is directed at restricting the legal capacity of women shall be deemed null and void.



4. States Parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose their residence and domicile.



Article 16

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

(a) The same right to enter into marriage;

(b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;



(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;



(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;



(e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;



(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;



(g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;



(h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.



2. The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.

PART V Article 17

1. For the purpose of considering the progress made in the implementation of the present Convention, there shall be established a Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) consisting, at the time of entry into force of the Convention, of eighteen and, after ratification of or accession to the Convention by the thirty-fifth State Party, of twenty-three experts of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention. The experts shall be elected by States Parties from among their nationals and shall serve in their personal capacity, consideration being given to equitable geographical distribution and to the representation of the different forms of civilization as well as the principal legal systems.

2. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by States Parties. Each State Party may nominate one person from among its own nationals.


3. The initial election shall be held six months after the date of the entry into force of the present Convention. At least three months before the date of each election the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a letter to the States Parties inviting them to submit their nominations within two months. The Secretary-General shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all persons thus nominated, indicating the States Parties which have nominated them, and shall submit it to the States Parties.
4. Elections of the members of the Committee shall be held at a meeting of States Parties convened by the Secretary-General at United Nations Headquarters. At that meeting, for which two thirds of the States Parties shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those nominees who obtain the largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the representatives of States Parties present and voting.
5. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years. However, the terms of nine of the members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two years; immediately after the first election the names of these nine members shall be chosen by lot by the Chairman of the Committee.
6. The election of the five additional members of the Committee shall be held in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of this article, following the thirty-fifth ratification or accession. The terms of two of the additional members elected on this occasion shall expire at the end of two years, the names of these two members having been chosen by lot by the Chairman of the Committee.


7. For the filling of casual vacancies, the State Party whose expert has ceased to function as a member of the Committee shall appoint another expert from among its nationals, subject to the approval of the Committee.
8. The members of the Committee shall, with the approval of the General Assembly, receive emoluments from United Nations resources on such terms and conditions as the Assembly may decide, having regard to the importance of the Committee's responsibilities.

9. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary staff and facilities for the effective performance of the functions of the Committee under the present Convention.
Article 18

1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for consideration by the Committee, a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the present Convention and on the progress made in this respect:

(a) Within one year after the entry into force for the State concerned;

(b) Thereafter at least every four years and further whenever the Committee so requests.

2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations under the present Convention.

Article 19

1. The Committee shall adopt its own rules of procedure.

2. The Committee shall elect its officers for a term of two years.
Article 20

1. The Committee shall normally meet for a period of not more than two weeks annually in order to consider the reports submitted in accordance with article 18 of the present Convention.

2. The meetings of the Committee shall normally be held at United Nations Headquarters or at any other convenient place as determined by the Committee. (amendment, status of ratification)
Article 21

1. The Committee shall, through the Economic and Social Council, report annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations on its activities and may make suggestions and general recommendations based on the examination of reports and information received from the States Parties. Such suggestions and general recommendations shall be included in the report of the Committee together with comments, if any, from States Parties.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit the reports of the Committee to the Commission on the Status of Women for its information.
Article 22

The specialized agencies shall be entitled to be represented at the consideration of the implementation of such provisions of the present Convention as fall within the scope of their activities. The Committee may invite the specialized agencies to submit reports on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of their activities.

PART VI Article 23
Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions that are more conducive to the achievement of equality between men and women which may be contained:

(a) In the legislation of a State Party; or

(b) In any other international convention, treaty or agreement in force for that State.
Article 24

States Parties undertake to adopt all necessary measures at the national level aimed at achieving the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

Article 25

1. The present Convention shall be open for signature by all States.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is designated as the depositary of the present Convention.

3. The present Convention is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
4. The present Convention shall be open to accession by all States. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Article 26

1. A request for the revision of the present Convention may be made at any time by any State Party by means of a notification in writing addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2. The General Assembly of the United Nations shall decide upon the steps, if any, to be taken in respect of such a request.

Article 27

1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession.

2. For each State ratifying the present Convention or acceding to it after the deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession, the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of ratification or accession.
Article 28

1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall receive and circulate to all States the text of reservations made by States at the time of ratification or accession.

2. A reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be permitted.

3. Reservations may be withdrawn at any time by notification to this effect addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall then inform all States thereof. Such notification shall take effect on the date on which it is received.

Article 29

1. Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present Convention which is not settled by negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute of the Court.

2. Each State Party may at the time of signature or ratification of the present Convention or accession thereto declare that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph I of this article. The other States Parties shall not be bound by that paragraph with respect to any State Party which has made such a reservation.
3. Any State Party which has made a reservation in accordance with paragraph 2 of this article may at any time withdraw that reservation by notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 30

The present Convention, the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed the present Convention.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Women’s rights around the world are an important indicator of understanding global well-being. Many may think that women’s rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Or even worse, some may think this is no longer an issue at all. But reading this report about the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty and how an increasing number of countries are lodging reservations, will show otherwise.

You would think that as time goes on, there would be more equality between men and women. Unfortunately, trends are moving in the other direction.

A report from Human Rights Watch also describes how women’s rights have not been observed in some countries as much as expected; in some places claims are made that women’s rights will be respected more, yet policies are sometimes not changed enough—or at all—thus still undermining the rights of women.
In some patriarchal societies, religion or tradition can be used as a barrier for equal rights. For example, as Inter Press Service reported, the Bangladesh government tried to hide behind laws to deny women equal rights. In Pakistan for example, honor killings directed at women have been carried for even the slightest reasons.

As Amnesty International also points out, “Governments are not living up to their promises under the Women’s Convention to protect women from discrimination and violence such as rape and female genital mutilation.” There are many governments who have also not ratified the Convention, including the U.S. Many countries that have ratified it do so with many reservations.
Despite the almost universal ratification of the Convention (second only to the Convention on the Rights of the Child), a number of countries have still not signed or ratified it. The handful of remaining countries are: USA (signed, but not ratified), Iran, Qatar, Cook Islands (a Non-member state of the United Nations), Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Somalia, and Sudan.
To see the US on this list may seem surprising to most, and Human Rights Watch is critical of the delay in getting a ratification, noting that this treaty has been in limbo in the U.S. Senate for decades. It was sent it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a vote in 1980. The first hearing on it was 10 years later. After a vote mostly in favor for it by the Foreign Relations Committee in 1994, some conservative senators blocked a US Senate vote on it. In 2002 the Foreign Relations Committee again voted that the treaty should be ratified, but the 107th Congress ended, so it requires a vote again in favor of sending the treaty to the full Senate for ratification!
Some opponents of the treaty have raised fears that it would undermine US law, but Amnesty International USA shows that such fears of the treaty are based on myths.
The US of course has a decent record when it comes to women’s rights, so this may not seem a concern immediately. However, as Amnesty International USA further argues not only would ratification for the US be straight forward (for US laws in this area are already consistent with the CEDAW treaty), but it would also help to increase their credibility when raising these issues worldwide.

(There are different types of problems all over the world that women face, from the wealthiest countries to the poorest, and it isn’t the scope or ability of this site to be able to document them all here, but just provide some examples. Links to other sites on this page document more thoroughly the actual instances, cases and situations around the world.)

The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.— Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 354


WOMEN: Reservations Grow Over UN Women's Treaty


By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS Mar 15 (IPS) - A U.N. body dealing with women's rights is seriously concerned at the growing list of formal reservations lodged by member states - even as they sign and ratify an international treaty to eliminate gender discrimination.

Of the 161 countries ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, about 44 have said they will not implement certain provisions of the treaty on political, constitutional, cultural or religious grounds.
Some of the countries that have ratified the Convention have objected to Article 2 which compels them to enter into a contractual obligation with the United Nations to take all necessary measures to ensure equality of women.

''If a country enters a reservation on the very basis of the convention - which guarantees the general principle of equality - then it really becomes a matter of concern,'' says Salma Khan of Bangladesh, head of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). ''So when you enter a reservation on Article 2, you are violating and nullifying the whole concept and sense of the Convention.''

Equally strong objections, she says, have also been raised against Article 16, which concerns equality in family life.
Angela King, U.N. Special Adviser on Gender Issues, says despite 161 ratifications, ''there was no cause for complacency since the Convention remained plagued by a large number of reservations'. Ratification, she points out, had not necessarily meant policy and legal changes in some states parties.

Under-Secretary-General Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said two of her priorities this year would be a campaign for the universal ratification of the Convention and the removal of substantive reservations.
Adopted by the General Assembly in December 1979, the Convention has been described as ''the most comprehensive, legally binding treaty on women's human rights.'' The first 16 Articles call on states to take appropriate measures to ensure women's civil, political, economic and cultural rights, and their legal equality.
The rights of women to take part in the political and public life of their countries, and to perform all functions at all levels of government are also guaranteed by the Convention. The treaty also calls for eliminating discrimination in the field of education, employment, health and other areas of economic and social life.
The 44 countries expressing ''reservations'' and ''objections'' to the some of the Articles in the Convention include Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.
The United States, which signed the Convention in July 1980, has not ratified it because of right-wing Congressional opposition to a treaty what is virtually a Bill of Rights for Women. But there are several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, which have neither signed nor ratified the Convention. They have ignored the Convention -- in its entirety.
Khan said that some of the opponents of the treaty cite ethnic, cultural and religious reasons for their objections. Most of the Islamic countries, including Egypt, have said that they are only willing to comply with Article 2 ''provided such compliance does not run counter'' to Islamic Sharia laws.

Algeria has said it is prepared to apply the provisions of Article 2 ''on condition they do not conflict with the provisions of the Algerian Family Code.''

Australia has pointed out that it is presently not in a position to take measures, as required by the Convention, to introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits throughout Australia.
Singapore says that in the context of its multi-racial and multi-religious society - ''and the need to respect the freedom of minorities to practise their religious and personal laws'' - it reserves the right not to apply certain provisions of the Convention where compliance with these provisions would be contrary to religious and personal laws.
India, while agreeing with the principle of compulsory registration of marriages, says that ''it is not practical in a vast country like India with its variety of customs, religious and level of literacy.''
The rash of reservations has evoked strong reactions from human rights and women's organisations. The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing reiterated the need for all 185 member states to ratify the Convention.

''We demand the universal ratification of the Convention and the removal of all limiting reservations, as the Beijing Platform directs, by the year 2000,'' a coalition of women's organisations said last week. The coalition, which included the Women's Right Division of Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Women Lawyers, said that all governments must outlaw discrimination against women, ''in line with their international human rights obligations.''
The European Union said last week that it ''remains seriously concerned at the number of reservations'' by State Parties to the Convention ''which are incompatible with its object and purpose.''
Speaking on behalf of the EU, Britain's Joan Ruddock said that according to the Convention itself, ''such reservations are not permitted and should be withdrawn.''
''The European Union calls on states to formulate their reservations as precisely and as narrowly as possible, and in accordance with international treaty law,'' she told the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women which concluded a two-week meeting Friday. Furthermore, Ruddock said, member states should review the reservations they have made with a view to their early withdrawal. (END/IPS/td/mk/98)

Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.