29 October 2020
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today held an online meeting during which it heard from two of its members as well as a joint statement by non-governmental organizations.
Rhoda Reddock, Committee Member and Chairperson of the Pre-sessional Working Group for the seventy-seventh session, said the Working Group had met from 2 to 6 March 2020 in Geneva. The Working Group had prepared lists of issues and questions with regard to the reports of Azerbaijan, Nicaragua, Senegal, South Africa and Yemen, in addition to lists of issues prior to reporting for Germany, Japan and Ukraine. It had at its disposal the reports of these States parties, with the exception of Germany, Japan and Ukraine, which would submit their periodic reports in response to the lists of issues prior to reporting.
Hilary Gbedemah, Committee Chairperson, said that in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee had decided to postpone the consideration of the States parties referred to in the report of the pre-sessional working group to future sessions.
Lia Nadaraia, Committee Member and Rapporteur on Follow-Up, said that at the end of the seventy-sixth session, follow-up letters outlining the outcome of assessments of follow-up reports had been sent to Barbados, Chile, Guatemala, Montenegro, Oman, Paraguay, Republic of Korea and Rwanda. First reminders regarding overdue follow-up reports had been sent to Fiji, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands and Suriname. For this session, the Committee had received follow-up reports from Burkina Faso with a six-month delay, Costa Rica with an eight-month delay, Cyprus with a one-month delay, Ireland with a fifteen-month delay, New Zealand on time, Saudi Arabia with a two-month delay, the State of Palestine on time, and Thailand with a nine-month delay. First reminders regarding the submission of follow-up reports should be sent to Bahamas, Congo, Mauritius, Nepal, Samoa and Tajikistan. However, the Committee had decided to postpone the assessment of follow-up reports to concluding observations to the seventy-eighth session in February 2021.
Mujer & Mujer Foundation, delivered a joint statement informed by the contributions and inputs of 27 national, regional and international women’s rights defenders, organizations and coalitions whose participation in the current session had been limited due to the postponement of the constructive dialogues. This and other treaty body postponements meant there would be no space for women to discuss their terrible experiences such as torture, inhuman degrading treatment, discrimination and arbitrary arrests for exercising their freedom of expression and challenging the status quo, including reprisals for exposing corruption. Women human rights defenders who were denouncing actions of extractive industries and were facing multiple forms of discrimination faced heightened threats and attacks from both state and non-state actors. The COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated systems of oppression and racism.
Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Rights said a considerable increase in teenage pregnancy was projected due to the COVID-19 emergency, as access to contraceptives, sexual and reproductive health, and sexual education had decreased. Cis and transgender women sex workers were in many countries criminalised, marginalised and in financially precarious situations. They had been severely impacted by the economic fallout of losing their livelihoods during the pandemic, as well as harsh and punitive governmental responses to sex workers during this emergency. Lesbian, bisexual and queer women, as well as trans and intersex persons also faced disproportionate impacts. The missing element in healthcare was access to hormone replacement therapy for the transgender community in rural communities and small towns.
The National Coalition of Women said the decriminalization of homosexuality in some countries had been an important advance in terms of human rights at the global level. The recognition of sexuality in its multiple dimensions as a category that cut across the lives of women had allowed stereotypical ideas and beliefs around gender to begin to collapse in new generations, giving society the opportunity to recognize them in their differences. However, the fulfilment of the social equity required more than the mere recognition that lesbian, bisexual and trans women were subjects of rights. Matters such as the redistribution of resources, political representation and above all the social recognition of their existence still had to be tackled.
The Committee’s session is taking place online from 26 October to 5 November. Dialogues with States parties have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Documentation, including the agenda and the programme of work, can be found at the session webpage.
The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/. Meeting summaries in English and French are available on the Meeting Summaries page of the United Nations Office at Geneva website.
The Committee will reconvene in public at 5 p.m. on Thursday, 5 November, to conclude its seventy-seventh session.
For use of the information media; not an official record