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Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice

Last updated: 28.06.2012 // Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice. Statement by Norway.

In some regions of the world 70 percent of children that don’t go to school are girls.  By mid 2011 only 28 countries had reached parliamentary representation for women of 30% or more. Less than 10% of peace negotiators are women and globally 50 % of women are in vulnerable jobs. Women are often the main food producers, often the main bread-winners, but lack access to land, credit and services.

These are numbers from UN Women’s annual report. Even though progress has been made, this is a reality facing millions of girls and women.  It is called discrimination and is one of the most serious and widespread human rights problems in our time.

Whether we speak of poverty, safety from violence, allocation of resources, property or access to health and education, women and girls enjoy fewer rights than men and boys.  No society is completely free from such discrimination. This Council must play an important role in changing this reality and the Working Group was set up to give further impetus to our work.  Allow me to thank the WG on discrimination against women for their interesting presentation and for its first report. We agree with the analysis, priorities and the methodology set forth in this report.

We note with interest the view that progress is not linear and that new political openings and transition can bring backlash and even produce new forms of discrimination.  We commend the fact that WG will focus on these situations with a focus on good practices. We would like to ask the working group to share their view on what is needed in order to have the ability to avoid or overcome such backlash and establish sustainable progress for women in complex and transformative political and social processes. 

It is indeed important that the WG examines discrimination both in law and in practice. To have the laws in place, but weak or non-existent implementation is an insult to women and lip service to international human rights. When discrimination against women is embedded in the law itself, women are left with no legal recourse as it is in fact legal to treat women as lesser human beings. In both cases women are faced with persistent stereotypes that hinder them from enjoying fully their human rights. We would like to underline the importance of empowerment of women both politically and economically as an important factor for changing this and putting an end to discrimination.  We are therefore pleased that the working group underlines the importance of women as agents of change. In our view men and boys are also victims of these gender stereotypes, in that they continue to perpetuate patterns that are negative not only to women, but also to themselves and society as a whole.

We would like to ask the WG of their view on the importance of involving men and boys in this work, and how this can be done? 

The WG will complement the work of CEDAW and other mechanisms, such as the CSW, to follow-up on the many cases of laws and practices that are discriminatory. We are very pleased that the Working Group will closely cooperate with these fora, as well as with UN Women, and would like the WG to elaborate on the way in which they will develop constructive cooperation and how to obtain synergies in this important field of work.

Allow me to stress that not only does discrimination against women constitute a human rights violation, but it is also not sensible politics. Could the WG elaborate on the relation between equality of rights and opportunity between men and women and a country’s economic and social development?

Let me conclude by saying that we agree that effective elimination of discrimination against women requires the consistent political will of states. The WG also stresses the need for broad based consensus of whole societies. We do agree, but would like to underline that States must take an active responsibility for contributing to such consensus, for eliminating resistant stereotypes and creating a conducive environment for non-discrimination, equality and full respect of women’s human rights .

See the statement as a webcast

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