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UN Independent Experts articulate a vision for women's rights: post Beijing + 15

Statement on the Occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March)

GENEVA – The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, together with the other UN independent experts mentioned herewith, called today for a new vision of women’s rights informed by the lessons learnt from the 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Today International Women’s Day, has a special meaning while governments, civil societies, and UN agencies are gathered in New York at the Commission on the Status of Women to assess the progress made since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted in 1995 at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

“At this juncture in time, understanding where and why we may have failed in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action is as important as understanding where and why we have succeeded,” stated Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women. This review process provides a historic opportunity to develop solid evidence-based approaches and policies for women’s advancement and the protection of their rights.

An impressive 186 States have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The near universal ratification of this key international instrument for women’s rights is a reason for celebration on the occasion of its 30th Anniversary. Violence against women, a critical area in the Beijing Platform for Action, has been increasingly recognised as a key priority in all regions of the world. Many countries have adopted or strengthened legislation on domestic violence, and initiated programmes, policies and awareness raising activities addressing both old and new forms of exploitation and violence against women and girls.

Yet old challenges in the protection of women’s rights remain, such as multiple forms of discrimination. In addition, new challenges have emerged in conjunction with phenomena like the global financial crisis, political violence, displacement and migration, and the acceleration in environmental degradation. The continued use of brutal violence against women, including sexual violence, as a weapon of war in conflict situations also remains a pressing concern. At the domestic level, lack of implementation of laws and other commitments to secure women’s rights, and the lack of gender sensitive budgetary policies, remain chronic problems.

The areas of critical concern for women identified in Beijing such as the economy, the environment, armed conflict, poverty, decision-making and political participation, as well as violence against women, to give only a few examples, appear more pressing than ever in our current economic and political context.

“The lessons learnt from this stock-taking exercise must guide us towards a new framework that provides for more accountability and a fresh vision on women’s rights, and provides the space for negotiating a new social and gender contract,” affirmed the independent experts.

“15 years after Beijing we would like to project a new vision where creative measures ensure the full participation of women from all walks of life. A vision where the participation of women in all contexts, be it in peacetime, conflict or post conflict situations, or during other types of crisis such as natural disasters or financial crises, is a requisite element for the protection of their rights, but also to achieve peace, security and sustainable human development,” concluded the experts.

Learn more about the Beijing +15 review process currently underway at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing15/regional_review.html

The experts are:

Ms. Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences;
Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation;
Mr. Shamsul Bari, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia;
Mr. Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants;
Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children;
Mr. Michel Forst, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti;
Mr. Anand Grover, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
Mr. Okechukwu Ibeanu, Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights;
Ms. Gabriela Carina Knaul de Alburquerque e Silva, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers;
Mr. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
Ms. Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on minority issues;
Mr. Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967;
Ms. Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief;
Mr. Walter Kälin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons;
Ms. M’jid Najat Maalla, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
Mr. Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;
Mr. Vernor Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on the right to education;
Ms. Mirjana Najcevska, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent;
Mr Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment;
Mr. Rudi Muhammad Rizki, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity;
Mr. Jeremy Sarkin, Chairperson of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances;
Mr. Martin Scheinin Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism;
Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;
Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda, Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty;
Ms. Farida Shaheed, Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights;
Ms. Gulnara Shahinian, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences; and
Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia.

For more information and media requests, please write to: vaw@ohchr.org

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