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Human Rights Council holds Annual Panel Discussion on the integration of a gender perspective in its work

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON

15 September 2015

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held its annual panel discussion on integrating a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms, with a focus on gender parity.

Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, noted that women represented 3.5 billion citizens on the globe, or more than 50 per cent of the population.  Yet in many countries they faced a wide range of constraints to effective and equal participation in political, public and economic life.  The panel discussion would thus focus on gender parity with a particular focus on analysing the main challenges to achieving parity in international human rights bodies, in particular the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and on identifying key measures to improve gender balance. 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the equal representation of women and men in all levels of decision-making, employment, and education was a crucial indicator of progress towards gender equality.  It was a fundamental matter of rights: women and men had to be able to participate equally in all spheres of life.  They had to be equally empowered to voice their opinions and argue for their needs.  The world had to stop regarding parity as a token exercise, and grasp that equal representation of women and men across themes and bodies, not only embodied, but also built more just societies.

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians noted that women and men experienced different situations of equality which had great repercussions on human dignity, social cohesion, economic growth and competitiveness.  It was therefore only right that the Human Rights Council should conduct annual questioning of its functioning so as to achieve full equality between women and men.  An essential stage in achieving women’s rights had been the 1995 Conference in Beijing which demonstrated that allowing women to be actively involved in decision-making at the highest level changed mentality and promoted equality in economic, social and cultural life.

Patricia Schulz, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, reminded the Council of the legal framework in which the discussion would take place, including the Council’s resolution 6/30 of 2007 which dealt with gender parity in treaty bodies and mechanisms, and the hard law framework in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  She stressed the need for clear and coherent legal terms to improve the situation of under-representation of women.

Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, announced the launch of a new leadership network, International Geneva Gender Champions, which aimed to enhance synergies and broaden the mainstreaming of gender equality in the work across international Geneva and beyond.  If the effort to include women in the implementation of global policies was serious, they should be included in defining policies and actions.  The new initiative thus aimed to reinforce the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations System-Wide Policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN SWAP).

Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity and Member of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, noted that since 2011 there had been a gradual but steady decline in the appointment of female mandate holders.  The most drastic decrease had taken place in 2014 when the terms of a significant number of mandate holders had ended and new experts had been appointed.  Women were traditionally appointed as mandate holders in areas that focused on women’s rights, namely violence against women or trafficking.  Some mandates were traditionally seen as reserved for men along the stereotype that women were usually qualified to deal with women’s issues, and that as care givers they had less time to devote to mandated activities and less flexibility travelling around the globe. 

Tracy Robinson, Rapporteur on Women’s Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, drew attention to the underrepresentation of women in most regional human rights bodies, such as the Organization of American States, which had an all-male human rights court in the Inter-American system.  There was a lack of commitment and action of the Member States of the Organization of American States in securing gender parity.  States had to care not just what human rights bodies looked like, but how they worked and under which terms of work.

Subhas Gujadhur, Director and Senior Analyst at the Universal Rights Group, recommended that States make better use of item 5 to report on the implementation of resolutions dealing with gender parity, as well as to make more specific and action-oriented recommendations during the Universal Periodic Review.  States had to also make more efforts to nominate women candidates for election and appointment to the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.  He reminded that due to the non-binding nature of the resolutions adopted by the Council, there was no way to assess how States were implementing thematic resolutions, including those dealing with the issue of gender parity.

In the interactive discussion that followed, speakers agreed that much remained to be done in achieving gender equality and parity and stressed the prime responsibility of States in combatting discrimination against women in practice and in law.  Evidence showed that gender equality was both the right thing and a smart thing to do.  Training in gender should be mandatory for all United Nations staff, including the leaders.  Some States asked about the possibility of introducing a gender quota system for appointments in the United Nations bodies and mechanisms.  Some speakers spoke of the necessity to culturally deconstruct gender in order to remove prejudices.  It was also noted that indigenous women and girls were highly vulnerable to violence and discrimination, and that migrant women needed to have access to more opportunities, such as education, in order to fully realize their potential. 

Participating in the discussion were the European Union, Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Arab Group, Sweden on behalf of Nordic countries, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Ecuador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey, Brazil, Kuwait, Montenegro, Canada, Sierra Leone, Croatia, India, Cuba, Switzerland, Nicaragua, Spain, Portugal, Paraguay, Chile, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Colombia, Poland, El Salvador, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Bolivia.

Also speaking were Action Canada, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Journalists and Writers Foundation, Indian Law Resource Centre, Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace, and Agence pour les Droits de l’Homme. 

The Council will next meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 16 September for a full day of meetings.  It will first continue the clustered interactive dialogue on enforced and involuntary disappearances and on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence.  It will then begin a clustered interactive dialogue on the rights of older persons and the use of mercenaries. 
 
Opening Statement

Joachim RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, opened the annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council and its mechanisms, focusing on parity, by stating that women represented 3.5 billion citizens on the globe (more than 50 per cent), yet in many countries they faced a wide range of constraints to their effective and equal participation in political, public and economic life.  Opportunities between men and women still differed.  This discussion would therefore focus on gender parity with a particular focus on analysing the main challenges to achieving parity in international human rights bodies, in particular the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and to identifying key measures to improve gender balance as well as existing initiatives and successful practices in order to make concrete recommendations.  Mr. Rücker saluted the work of all those who strove for greater gender parity, and in particular the women Ambassadors in Geneva in bringing the necessary attention to gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

Keynote Statements

ZEID RA’AD Al HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that in defiance of the Universal Declaration’s simple and resonant statement, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights,” no country had yet achieved full equality between the sexes.  The equal representation of women and men at all levels of decision-making, employment, education and gender parity went far deeper than the simply symbolic and visible advancement of specific individuals.  It was a crucial indicator of progress towards gender equality.  And more importantly, it was a fundamental matter of rights: women and men had to be able to participate equally in all spheres of life.  They had to be equally empowered to voice their opinions and argue for their needs.  Gender parity meant visible equality, and this profoundly influenced the unspoken notions that had for centuries underpinned discrimination against women and girls.  The opportunities that were open to all, and their choices, were severely limited by gender stereotypes, long-standing and widely held views about the appropriate roles and characteristics of each gender. 

Women were 40 per cent of the experts seated in the treaty bodies, but one-third of those women were seated on the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and many of the others were on the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  As for Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council mandate-holders, the appointment of female experts had steadily declined over the past 10 sessions.  It almost appeared as though some mandates were reserved to men, including mandates as obviously relevant to women as torture and summary execution, while specific mandates involving children were viewed as almost women-only domains.  The lack of gender parity in United Nations human rights bodies could indeed be symptomatic of the under-representation of women in Member States.  But the Human Rights Council needed to do better than societies.  It needed to lead by example and show that everyone’s voice and interest were equal in human rights work.  Actions had to be undertaken at the national and international level, to address discrimination, combat stereotypes, and promote equality.  The world had to stop regarding parity as a token exercise, and grasp that equal representation of women and men across themes and bodies, not only embodied but also built more just societies.

QUEEN MATHILDE OF THE BELGIANS noted that today women and men experienced different situations of equality which had great repercussions on human dignity, social cohesion and economic growth.  It was therefore only right that the Human Rights Council should conduct annual questioning of its functioning so as to achieve full equality between women and men.  Twenty years had passed since the Beijing Conference in which the world had reaffirmed the importance of equality in access to education, employment and political decision-making.  Progress had been achieved and in many countries the legal framework had evolved or was moving towards greater equality.  But challenges remained both in prosperous countries and in disadvantaged ones.  Women remained the first victims of armed conflicts; unfortunately, recent events had given many examples of combatants who preyed on women and girls and considered them as bounty of war.  Women were often victims of exploitation and trafficking and in certain situations traditions perpetuated suffering, such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages or so-called crimes of honour.  The principle of equal work for equal wage was still not fully implemented; many women suffered discrimination in employment and had to suffer sexual harassment and denigration.  No country had achieved the perfect balance and efforts must be redoubled without delay.  An essential stage in achieving women’s rights had been the 1995 Conference in Beijing which had demonstrated that allowing women to be actively involved in decision-making at the highest level changed mentality and promoted equality in economic, social and cultural life.  Men had an important role to play too, including in combatting stereotypes.

Belgium was playing its part in strengthening equality between women and men by integrating this dimension in all its public policies; since 2013, gender dimension must be reflected in all interventions of the Belgium Development Cooperation.  Equality between men and women would be recognized in the development goals to be adopted in two weeks’ time in New York, for there would be no development without women’s full participation, and no human rights without respect for women’s rights.

Statements by Moderator and Panellists

PATRICIA SHULZ, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, in her opening remarks, reminded the Council of the legal framework in which the discussion would take place, including the Council’s resolution 6/30 of 2007 which dealt with gender parity in treaty bodies and mechanisms, and the hard law framework in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  Ms. Shultz stressed the need for clear and coherent legal terms to improve the situation of under-representation of women, the need to recognize the great variety in the special measures that State parties could take to support equal representation of both sexes, and the proper financial, human and technical resources for the measures for gender parity.

Turning to Mr. Møller, the moderator asked about the need for the Geneva Champion’s Initiative, its expectations and how it was different from other initiatives.

MICHAEL MØLLER, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that with the aim to generate concrete, measurable action, he had decided to launch a new leadership network of International Geneva Gender Champions.  All members of the network committed to three specific annual activities aimed at bringing greater gender equality in their work.  All commitments under the initiative would be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and trackable (SMART).  A great interest among Permanent Missions in Geneva had already been registered.  Mr. Møller expressed hope that all heads of Permanent Missions would join the initiative for a truly global Geneva impact.   One of the actions that members of the initiative committed to was the Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge.  Mr. Møller underlined that if the effort to include women in the implementation of global policies was serious, they should be included in defining policies and actions.  Accordingly, there should be parity on panels and there should not be any panels made up of solely one gender.  Only 30 per cent of the senior leaders across the United Nations system were women.  Therefore efforts to include women should be more intense.  The Gender Champions Initiative thus aimed to reinforce the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations System-Wide Policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN SWAP).  The Initiative would start reaching out to civil society from January 2016 onwards.  Mr. Møller said he expected to see a broader implementation of the many good ideas and steps to encourage gender parity.  At the Geneva level, the International Labour Office was the first to monitor the representation of women and men within delegations.  The aim of the network was to enhance synergies and broaden the mainstreaming of gender equality in the work across international Geneva and beyond. 

PATRICIA SCHULZ, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, asked for an update and analysis of gender parity and balance in the Council’s mechanisms and treaty bodies.

VIRGINIA DANDAN, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity and Member of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, said that at the time of the Council’s establishment, a principle of full integration of a gender perspective was included.  Gender balance was given primary consideration in the selection and appointment of mandate holders, including Special Procedure mandate holders.  Since 2011 there had been a gradual but steady decline in the appointment of female mandate holders, from 44 per cent to 39 per cent as of August 2015.  The most drastic decrease took place in 2014 when a significant number of terms of mandate holders ended and new experts were appointed.  As for thematic mandates, those focusing on women’s rights, such as violence against women or trafficking, had been solely held by female mandate-holders since their establishment.  On the other hand, seven thematic mandates had been held from their establishment solely by male mandate-holders, namely health, counter terrorism, torture, foreign debt, racism, freedom of opinion, and internally displaced persons.  Some mandates were traditionally seen as reserved for men along the stereotype that women were usually qualified to deal with women’s issues and less so with torture and counter-terrorism.  Another assumption could be made that women were traditionally considered as care givers and that thus they had less time to devote to mandated activities and less flexibility travelling around the globe.  The Council’s Consultative Group should continue taking special measures to achieve gender parity in relation to the appointment of mandate holders through outreach, selection, retention and encouraging experts of both sexes to integrate a gender perspective in their work.  

PATRICIA SCHULZ, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, asked Ms. Robinson to share the perspective of regional human rights mechanisms on gender parity and how they had or had not contributed to gender equality and parity in their work.

TRACY ROBINSON, Rapporteur on Women’s Rights at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, stated that as in the United Nations, women were underrepresented on most regional human rights bodies.  The Organization of American States had an all-male human rights court in the Inter-American system, and would be marginally improved in 2016 by the inclusion of one woman.  What was missing was both  the commitment  and action of the Member States of the Organization of American States in securing gender parity.  In its over half a century of operations, only 17 per cent of the Commissioners in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had been women.  There were many lessons for the Inter-American system.  There was a problem of sustainability of the presence of women in high-level positions.  States had to make a commitment to undertake measures, and they had to care not just what human rights bodies looked like, but how they worked and under which terms of work.  This included having unpaid or marginally paid human rights commissioners and judges.

PATRICIA SCHULZ, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, asked Mr. Gujadhur to present an analysis on how the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review had addressed the issue of parity.  What were some practical recommendations that could be implemented by the United Nations human rights system?

SUBHAS GUJADHUR, Director and Senior Analyst at the Universal Rights Group, stated that over the nine years and twenty-nine regular sessions since its creation, the Human Rights Council had adopted around 825 texts.  Out of these over 55 per cent of the resolutions were of a thematic nature, however a mere 4 per cent of these made mention of women or girls.  Out of the 33 resolutions dealing with women’s rights over the last four years, 25 of them made reference to gender equality and 23 of them mentioned women’s empowerment/participation.  On the bright side, from the period 2012 to 2015, there had been a slight increase in the percentage of resolutions mentioning gender equality.  Mr. Gujadhur also noted that over 67 per cent of the resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council called on all States or the international community to take a specific action on a specific issue; however, due to the non-binding nature of these, there was no way to assess how States were implementing thematic resolutions, including those dealing with the issue of gender parity.  Mr. Gujadhur recommended that States make better use of item 5 to report on the implementation of resolutions dealing with gender parity, as well as make more specific and action oriented recommendations during the Universal Periodic Review.  States had to also make more efforts to nominate women candidates for election, and appointment to the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.  Best practices had to be identified.

Discussion

European Union said that it would soon adopt the Gender Equality Action Plan and asked about the key challenge to ensuring gender equality among Special Procedure mandate holders and if the problem could be overcome?  Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that much remained to be done in achieving gender equality and parity and stressed the prime responsibility of States in combatting discrimination against women in practice and in law.  Sweden, speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries, said that the evidence showed that gender equality was both the right thing and smart thing to do and said that training in gender should be mandatory for all United Nations staff, including the leaders.  Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that parity was a key element of gender equality and reiterated the resolve to promote the role of women and girls in all areas.  Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that 20 years after the Platform of Beijing, the progress had been slow and parity in gender did not mean only parity in numbers but also the inclusion of women in decision-making, including in the United Nations.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that most of its members had achieved gender parity and gender equality, particularly in education, but equal participation in the economic sector remained a challenge.

Turkey said ensuring gender parity was a key component in all areas of life, and actively supported initiatives to ensure gender equality throughout United Nations activities, including with regard to the nomination of treaty body experts.  Brazil underlined the importance of mainstreaming women’s rights throughout the United Nations’ work as a whole, and encouraged governments to put forward candidatures of women to the treaty bodies and to consider gender balance during the nomination process.  Kuwait said women in Kuwait had achieved much since the independence of the country, and that their role in society had been strengthened, including in terms of labour market integration and access to decision-making positions.  Montenegro commended efforts made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ensuring that women’s rights remained high on the United Nations’ agenda, and encouraged States to nominate women to treaty body experts and other positions within United Nations mechanisms.  Canada stated its commitment to protect the rights of women, especially women belonging to vulnerable groups, and said it would continue to give priority to combat violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, and to promote the full participation of women in public life.  Sierra Leone welcomed achievements relating to the increased representation of women in national parliaments, and insisted that the imposition of quotas was indispensable to address inequalities between women and men. 

Action Canada for Population and Development welcomed the work on gender parity and was deeply concerned about the gender imparity in the United Nations  system.  Perhaps one of the reasons of this underrepresentation was due to professions traditionally seen as female or male.  Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that sex trade should not have a place in the world today.  The treatment of women under ISIS rule was a tragedy as was the systematic rape of women of Yezidi origin.  Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi said that women were subject to gender based violence, including rape and enforced slavery.  In order to be effective, humanitarian action had to explicitly emphasize gender sensitivity.  Croatia said that it had recently elected a female as President of the country, and 20 per cent of all members of Government in Croatia were women.  These changes were underpinned by the mandatory inclusion of women in candidate lists for parliamentary elections.  India welcomed the holding of this annual discussion with a focus on gender parity.  The principle of gender parity was firmly enshrined in the Indian Constitution and 1.3 million grassroots women had been brought into the decision-making system.  Cuba said that gender parity had not been achieved in the United Nations system, and recommended that States parties undertake the necessary measures to achieve parity.  Cuban women represented 48.6 per cent in Parliament and Cuba was the third leading country to achieve gender parity in government structures. 

Switzerland remained concerned at the constant underrepresentation of women in  human rights bodies and said that specific measures must be taken to establish balance between sexes in treaty bodies.  Nicaragua stressed the importance of training, empowerment and leadership and said that policies were needed to promote education on  human rights.  Spain said that gender equality was a fundamental pillar of its public policies and the vision of the country, and one of the six priorities of the Government.  Portugal asked the panellists about the possibility of introducing a gender quota system for the appointments in the United Nations bodies and mechanisms.  Paraguay urged States to present women as candidates for mandate holders and the Council to keep women in mind when selecting successful candidates.  It was not possible to construct a fair world without gender parity.  Chile said that cultural deconstruction of gender was crucial in removing prejudices and said that the Council could play an important part in this.  Republic of Korea said that the commitments made in relation to gender equality must be fleshed out in concrete action in order to achieve the goals of several initiatives, such as the Beijing Declaration and Programme for Action.  Russia agreed that much remained to be done to implement the Beijing Platform of Action and said that achieving gender equality in the Human Rights Council should not be achieved at the detriment of professionalism.  Colombia said gender equality and empowerment should continue to be a crucial theme for the Human Rights Council, and regretted that there was a gender imbalance within the treaty bodies.  

Indian Law Resource Centre said indigenous women and girls were highly vulnerable to violence and discrimination, including in the United States, and recommended that the Council invite the Secretary General to issue a report on this issue.  Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace said refugees from the Middle East, particularly women, needed social protection, and underlined the importance of international cooperation to ensure that the needs of women were met.  Agence pour les droits de l’homme said giving migrant women the opportunities to fully realize their potential was paramount, and said States had to take all appropriate measures to ensure access to education for women. 

Poland said that currently 39.6 per cent of its civil service was occupied by women and asked the Human Rights Council what administrative measures were being taken to effectively promote the participation of women in the decision-making process and did this change the existing practices?  El Salvador stated that certain situations had created inequality between men and women.  Since 2014, there was a law on development and  protection of micro and small enterprises to promote greater access for women to entrepreneurial work.  Bulgaria said that it was fighting gender stereotypes through the National Action Plan.  The Agenda Equality Act was currently under preparation and would ensure gender equality in all institutions and at all levels.  Ireland said that the equal participation of women from all communities was essential for their proper functioning.  Ireland actively promoted the inclusion of women in all levels, including in peace processes.  Bolivia shared its satisfaction on the adoption of a resolution by the United Nations on public services that recognized the values of the Andean people.  Bolivia had undertaken many measures to promote the participation of women, and in 2008 Bolivia became free of illiteracy.

Concluding Remarks

PATRICIA SCHULZ, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, asked Mr. Gujadhur to elaborate on the measures that could be taken to ensure that gender parity was incorporated in mechanisms for securing economic, social and cultural rights in the work of the Human Rights Council.

She asked Ms. Robinson to elaborate on institutional culture and gender parity.

Ms. Dandan was asked about how to make the consensus on gender parity among mandate holders concrete, and what links were necessary to make between Geneva and New York when appointments were made.

Mr. Møller was asked to elaborate on the possibility of introducing a quota system to increase women’s participation in the United Nations system.

SUBHAS GUJADHUR, Director and Senior Analyst at Universal Rights Group, said the adoption of development goals had led to better recognition of the necessity to ensure gender equality.  Regarding United Nations human rights mechanisms, rules had been adopted to promote gender parity, and voluntary pledges had been made by some States.  The integration of men into efforts to promote gender-parity efforts had to be done in a holistic manner, and civil society had an important role to play in this regard. 

TRACY ROBINSON, Rapporteur on Women’s Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said some women faced additional hindrances against participation, including for reasons of poverty, race or other criteria.  She encouraged evaluations of practices and policies, and their impact on women’s empowerment, and underlined the importance of early accountability.  As part of the Inter-American System, she made a call for a replication of today’s discussion at the regional level, and encouraged commitments made at the international level to be reflected within regional organizations as well. 

VIRGINIA DANDAN, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity and Member of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, said that concretizing meant that the question had to go back to the national level.  Gender equality and parity could not reach the halls of the United Nations unless they came from the national level.  It was related to how New York made appointments.  Very often in the decision-making at that level, gender equality unfortunately became mere rhetoric.  National Governments must give political commitment to gender equality.  Gender equality commitment made at the level of the United Nations could not be reflected unless it first was made at the national level.  As for the European Union’s question about the greatest challenge to achieving gender parity, it lay in the stereotypes that came from national cultures.  There was a need for initiatives reaching out to women, tapping into existing women’s networks, and giving a chance to qualified women.  In that case, there would be a chance for gender equality.

MICHAEL MØLLER, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, responded to the question about gender quotas, noting that some quotas already existed within the United Nations system.  There was a need to defer responsibility to Member States, and have some sort of accountability on that.  All sorts of measures were in place and the United Nations was close to achieving 50 per cent of female representation.  However, female representation at the senior level still remained problematic and much more had to be done to achieve gender balance.  Mr. Møller encouraged the exchange of ideas and he urged Member States to look at their own recommendations.  It took a little bit of will and imagination to achieve a lot more to move the issue further. 

PATRICIA SCHULZ, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and panel moderator, in concluding remarks said that practical measures could be undertaken, as in the example of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women where Nordic countries had provided good male candidates.  She encouraged States parties to start discussing together to ensure that they would come up with candidates, female and male, where they were underrepresented.  In the field of gender equality and the fight against discrimination, the female only composition for bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reinforced the idea that these were simply women’s issues and should only be dealt with by women.  For example, security was an issue in which women had a huge stake, but they were very rarely at the negotiating table.  The world had to stop making statements and undertake concrete actions.  The Geneva Champions Initiative was a very valuable initiative, for example, and was sure to bring results.  Responsibilities had to be placed where they belonged, namely with States bodies, Treaty bodies, heads of United Nations  agencies, and the non-governmental organizations in Geneva.  There were possibilities of action.  Some designation systems had to be revised in order to be capable to deliver gender diversity.   One thing that could improve gender balance was to stop nominating the same candidates for years.

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