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Women's rights body reviews reports from 8 States - United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
UN Chronicle. 1987 Aug; 24: p..LEGAL, judicial and administrative measures taken to guarantee equality of women's rights in political, economic, social and cultural fields in eight countries were reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at its sixth session (Vienna 30 March-10 April). Bangladesh, Colombia, France, Greece, Poland, Republic of Korea, Spain and Sri Lanka reported to the 23-member expert Committee and responded to their comments and questions. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, approved by the General Assembly in 1979, requires the 92 States parties to guarantee a just distribution of rights and obligations among men and women. Among principles enunciated in the Convention are those relating to affirmative action, maternity protection measures, abolition of prostitution, rights of rural women and de facto equality in family relations, employment, education and cultural and political life. States parties are also asked to report periodically on action they have taken to give effect to the Convention's provisions. (excerpt)
Monday Developments. 2004 Jan 12; 22(1):7.The Bush administration has continually paid lip-service to international women's rights during its tenure, with little or no action to back up its words. In this past year alone, numerous issues that have a tremendous impact on women's lives around the world have been dismissed with sugar-coated words about U.S. concern and support. The most obvious examples of this are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush ad- ministration has repeatedly touted its support for women's rights, but these rights are not possible without security and legal guarantees. Equal rights for Afghan women must be specifically guaranteed in the new constitution. In Iraq, there were no women on the constitutional committee and only three women on the U.S. appointed Governing Council, one of whom was assassinated because of inadequate security. In both of these situations the United States has the ability to back up its rhetoric on women's active political participation but has so far failed to do so. (excerpt)
Guttmacher Report on Public Policy. 2003 Aug; 6(3):4-5, 14.In the United States and other developed countries, where Pap tests are widely available and easily accessible, deaths from cervical cancer have plunged in recent decades, even in the presence of high HPV rates. Death rates remain high in developing countries because women lack access to Pap tests or other effective screening programs. The evidence strongly suggests, then, that while keeping the focus on HPV and its sexual transmission may be politically useful in advancing a morality-based, abstinence-until- marriage agenda, a more realistic campaign against cervical cancer deaths would focus on increasing access to cervical cancer screening among women around the world. (excerpt)
New York, New York, Human Rights Watch, 2002 Dec. 50 p. (Afghanistan Vol. 14, No. 11)Recommendations sections immediately following and toward the end of the report set out in more detail how the process of promoting human rights, including rights for women and girls, can be put back on track. This report is based on more than 120 interviews conducted in Herat city and Kabul between September and November 2002. Names and identifying details of many of those interviewed cannot be printed here because of concerns for their security. After Human Rights Watch visited Herat in September 2002, Ismail Khan ordered his security forces to identify and interrogate people who spoke with us. We have also received reports that Ismail Khan’s forces have threatened women whom they believe spoke with us—an indication of the level of intimidation and repression in western Afghanistan. (excerpt)
[Unpublished] 1997 Sep 12.  p.On December 1, 1997, the Sudanese Women Association and the Mothers of the Sudanese Students Union marched silently to UN headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, to protest the forcible conscription of students and to deliver a memorandum to the UN representative. When this delegation arrived, however, Cristopher Jaeger, the UN representative refused to meet with them or to receive the memorandum. Instead he called police who beat and arrested the women. A judge summarily sentenced the women to 10 lashes and a fine. The arrested women included a university lecturer, a nurse, and several lawyers. One of the women was in critical condition after the arrest with internal bleeding; another suffered a broken arm. One woman was sentenced to 40 lashes because she was wearing trousers. The judge also fined and imprisoned a male lawyer defending the women and expelled another from the courtroom. This article ends by asking readers to take action by writing to Sudanese authorities urging them to protect the women and their lawyers, order their immediate release, end corporal punishment, guarantee an impartial enquiry into this case, and respect human rights.
LINKS. 1997 Jun; 1-2.Under the Taliban, which took control of Kabul in Afghanistan in October 1996, Shari's law has been interpreted strictly; women cannot work outside the home, cannot be educated, and must wear the burkha. Professional and educated women have moved to Pakistan. According to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 1995 figures, the literacy rate among women is 15%; among men it is 45%. This will only worsen if the education of girls is banned. International nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) report that interpretation of the law varies with district; girls under 10 years of age can attend school in some areas, and some Taliban commanders are more liberal than others. The 30,000 households headed by women will fall into poverty if the women cannot work and have no other means of support. Women's relationships outside the home will be determined entirely by men. Gender roles will change because men will now have to take over jobs women formerly performed outside the home: taking children to clinics, shopping, and collecting water. Women's support groups will collapse because visiting will be difficult and hospitality will be too expensive. International agencies have distributed food and provided work to women in their homes; men are used to communicate with the women. This has been done at risk. Oxfam UK/I, which cannot deliver quality humanitarian aid without working with both women and men, will attempt, through a witnessing and influencing strategy, to persuade the Taliban to become more moderate.
Development. 1994; (1):10-3.Women involved in the population debate and in preparations for the 1994 UN Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) are forming a dangerous liaison with environmentalists and population planners. Current models of development growth fail in having the power and resource distribution potential to change sources of poverty and unsustainable environmental practices. Good government may be a solution, but environmentalists must be aware of gender issues outside the local domain. The population establishment hurts women's groups by marketing the language of empowerment of women as an object of population target setting, which has been linked with coercion and violence and not with improvement in the quality of life of women. The various political perspectives use the same language of empowerment, rights, justice, poverty alleviation but the meanings are not the same. A positive consequence of the joint discussion is the worldwide focus on understanding social differences and man's relationship to man and man's relationship to the natural world. An important objective is to be involved in the development of a complex expression of the issues. The rightness or wrongness of postures is out of place. Arturo Escobar has coined the strategy "cultural hybridization" or development of alternative strategies from the ongoing economic and technological changes occurring during the 1990s. The mainstream discourse of ICPD focuses on women's rights, overpopulation and unsustainable development. UNFPA in roundtable discussions endorsed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The US position is gender sensitive. The second preparatory committee recommends family planning which encompasses sexual and reproductive health and links education with women's status as a means of achieving socioeconomic development. The mainstream has been asked about the contradictory practices of international development programs. Balancing individual rights and social responsibilities has both opportunities and potential dangers, if decisions are made for quantification by technical experts, for control of wombs by the medical establishment, or for stringent control of economic programs by governments under threats by multinationals.
Development. 1994; (1):50-5.Feminists view the UN Conference on Population and Development scheduled for September 1994 in Cairo as a process of negotiation among self-interest groups in a specific political climate. A political setting among conference feminists should be conducive to increasing support for women's self determination. Successful advocacy may depend on the accuracy of assessment of the political climate and of the skills of power and persuasion. The world population conference's agenda and plan of action are the targets of negotiation. Self interests are represented, for instance, by those who advocate for poverty issues as a replacement for population growth arguments. Past conferences have identified key players as the US, developing country governments, and the Vatican. Population groups have joined with environmentalists to promote demographic target setting and have been able to achieve publicity for this position. The UNCED official statement does not include target setting, but the Secretary General of the UN Fund for Population Affairs hopes that quantifiable and attainable population goals aiming for a low population projection would be adopted. The problem with adopting a population framework is that the emphasis is on the population side of the equation, with little recognition given to the issues of reproductive rights, health, and empowerment of women. Women's issues are not likely to be advanced because historically population control has emphasized quantification and management of people, without care or concern for rights. Population concepts also have interfered with a holistic and honest approach to volatile issues. Preoccupation with the "population explosion" has diverted attention from other urgent issues. Population ideology has been harmful to women's human rights and control over their own body. Advances have been made in giving women access to contraceptives but without an increase in their decision making authority. Population policy should reflect the stated desires of women and couples in a family planning structure with a "triple agenda" and not demographic targets. Feminists must direct energies also to the forthcoming Social Summit in Copenhagen and the Beijing Women's Conference.
Development. 1994; (1):56-8.The expected Cairo conference on population and development, scheduled for September 1994, generated some preconceptions, such as competing self-interests vying for key roles in determining rights, desires, and concepts. The conference constituencies include national governments, international donors, family planning agencies, UN and affiliate agencies, environmentalist groups, churches, the Vatican, researchers, physicians, industry, and women's health advocates. Historically, population has been the domain of "quantitative, interventionist perspectives" and has been reflected in the writings of Hobbes and Malthus. The Malthusian notions of spiralling population increases and resource needs for survival have dominated. The uniqueness and abilities of individuals to be able to make responsible decisions about reproduction has frequently been lost in population policies. There has been a lack of consideration of the personal rights and social inequalities within diverse classes, races, ethnic groups, gender designations, and economic classes. Prior population conferences have neglected the issue of development. The forthcoming conference will bring together diverse actors and their postures on population policy, equality and social justice, reproductive health and rights, and development. Women have been in the past absent from discussions, which has resulted in harmful decisions for poor women of the South. Family planning groups have claimed success, but as in the case of Brazil, there have been prices paid. The feminist perspective for the forthcoming conference has enlarged the concept of democracy and individual rights and the issue of control over one's body. Education, information, employment, and social welfare are argued as necessary for empowerment of women and responsible fertility decisions. Women's groups at the Cairo conference will try to make the principles of equity, social dignity, and women's rights and autonomy central to the discussion and included in national plans and international treaties. There is an awareness that population, development, and women's groups must work together toward a common agenda.
Family Planning Perspectives. 1995 Nov-Dec; 27(6):254-8.This article is a reflection on the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995, including its preparatory meetings. Delegates from 187 nations negotiated and decided on the disputed passages of the draft Platform of Action, which comprised 40% of the 150 page document. The atmosphere prior and during the conference was not peaceful. The UN and China disputed over the location of the nongovernmental organizations' (NGO) forum that took place at the same time of the conference. The US and Chinese governments squabbled about China's detention of a Chinese-American human rights activist. The US First Lady attended the conference and the NGO forum, promoting human rights. Most delegates had decided that this conference would not be a retreat from the Cairo conference. In comparison to Cairo, the Vatican delegation had toned down its opposition. US based antiabortion groups and conservative women's groups arrived in greater numbers in Beijing than in Cairo, in hopes to reverse actions taken in Cairo. They had few victories. A contentious issue was parental rights and responsibilities, specifically adolescents' access to confidential health services. Compromise wording was worked out in two paragraphs. All other references to parental rights were deleted or there was a reference to the compromise wording. The Beijing platform was the first universal document recognizing the right of a woman to say no to sexual intercourse. The references in the Beijing document recognizing sexual rights as human rights were a major accomplishment. Debates over the issue of abortion took place: the proposed conscience clause and a call for the review of laws containing punitive measures against women who have had an illegal abortion. The vocal delegates from developing countries are silencing the accusation that radical Western women are thrusting women's rights on the rest of the world.
POPULI. 1994 Jul-Aug; 21(7):4-6.An agenda for significant change is proposed for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Current progress toward the agenda is viewed as insufficient unless there are resource reallocations, political will, vision, and the adoption of the agenda at the ICPD. The ICPD goals also should be accepted by the World Summit for Social Development and by the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 in order to achieve human security and development. Population agencies must 1) increase investments in health, education, water, sanitation, housing, and social services; 2) enact and enforce legislation empowering women in sexual, social, and political ways; 3) provide credit, training, and income development so women can have decent lives; 4) involve women's advocates at all levels of decision making; and 5) eliminate the gender gap in education, prevent violence against girls, and eliminate sex role stereotypes. The literature in the population field has neglected sexuality, gender roles, and relations and has concentrated on unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraceptive efficacy. Many family planning (FP) programs reinforce gender roles. Improvement in the quality of services must be a top priority for FP programs. Quality of care is conceptualized differently by FP providers and women's health advocates. Basic program management and logistics systems could be changed with modest investments in staff motivation and revised allocations of human and financial resources. Clients must be treated with dignity and respect. Programs should not concentrate on married, fertile women to the neglect of adolescents and other sexually active women. Preventive health should include those sexually active beyond the reproductive age. Men's responsibility in FP is viewed as fashionable but problematic in terms of actual program change.
ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY. 1994 Aug 20; 29(34):2,201-4.The aim of US-promoted population policies is maintaining and securing the economic and political dominance of capitalist states. Governments of developed countries blame overpopulation in developing countries for destroying the planet and those of developing countries blame overconsumption, waste, and industrial pollution in the capitalist countries to be responsible. Developed countries and the UN profess that population control is in the interests of development and for the sake of women's rights. Many women's groups protest planned and already existing population policies and bear witness to the suffering women from developing countries experience, raising the question of choice of these policies. Sexism served as the smokescreen behind which US strategies of population control were implemented. The concept of sustainable development is also used to advance population policies in developing countries. Developed countries use this concept to maintain the status quo, agricultural countries as such, cash crop economies, dependency on food, foreign aid, and loans and to continue their exploitation in developing countries. USAID, UNFPA, and the World Bank are the major moneylenders for population control. The US targets Africa for population control because it produces 90-100% of four minerals vital to US industry. The new phase of capitalist development has shifted the state's role from its function as a nation state to facilitator of global capital. Population control policy, national security laws, and anti-trade union laws are used to create a docile and immobile pool of labor. The World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO, through their structural adjustment policies, provide the infrastructure to implement population policies and targets. Population policies focusing on targets take control away from women. People in developing countries will not accept these population policies until they have control of their lives. They need assurance of child survival and to be in a position to plan their future. The population control lobby now uses deception to thwart resistance.
International Family Planning Perspectives. 1993 Jun; 19(2):61-6.The constituents of women, population, and the environment proved to be explosive when representatives from the 3 groups came together during preparations for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. In its aftermath, feminists, population planning advocates, and environmental activists were concerned about the direction of their respective movements and the future of cooperative ventures. The key parties desire reconciliation, as time is approaching for meetings sponsored by the UN: the International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo in 1994, and the next international women's conference, in Beijing, China, in 1995. Representatives of a wide array of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) confronted the government delegations during the final governmental preparatory committee meeting in New York just prior to UNCED. The draft of the meeting's official document, known as Agenda 21, made a compelling case for the population-environment link. The US delegation sent by the Bush Administration insisted on deleting from Agenda 21 any references to changes in behavior aimed at reducing consumption in the industrialized world. The Vatican's goal was to deemphasize the population issue in the global environmental debate and to eliminate any mention of family planning (FP). In Rio at UNCED, many prominent government delegates addressed population stabilization for sustainable development. Population planning and environmental activists insisted that rapid population growth is a critical international issue and that FP can be perceived as a social and individual good. Many feminists would prefer that the world debate about population focus less on fertility-related phenomenon and more on how population size and growth affect a particular community and lifestyle. The National Wildlife Federation observed that environmentalists must devote more attention to the consumption issue in the industrialized world.
WOMEN 2000. 1992; (2):1-23.The UN Division for the Advancement of Women publication has devoted an issue to the role of women in public lie based on an analysis of women's status in industrialized countries presented in Vienna, Austria, in May 1991. Women already contribute to political life and make a difference in politics, but societal institutions and government processes have not yet adapted to this fact. Women's nongovernmental organizations promote women's interests at the governmental level, but often do not have the economic or political power as do other interests groups such as trade unions. Women often participation public life via their membership in women's organizations, community action groups, voluntary organizations, and other close to home groups. They prefer to participate in activities which are problem solving rather than institution building. These activities and groups operate outside established political institutions and are not considered as part of public and political life. Society's exclusion of women from leadership positions in public life keeps it from benefiting from the special contributions that women bring to decision making. Women show a tendency to have different leadership styles than men (e.g., ability to relate to people affected by their decisions), which are most needed for the modern world. They often do not campaign just for women's issues, but, once in office, they do tend to become more involved in women's issues. Women have affected positive changes in career and child care, often on a non-Socialist agenda, in various countries (e.g. Norway). This effect is referred to as the politics of motherhood. More access to politics and public life calls for removal of structural and situational barriers including the glass ceiling, discrimination, insufficient funds, and bearing most of the responsibility for child care. The UN women's groups has drafted a platform for interregional consultation on women's role in public life and scheduled the 4th world conference on women for 1995.