UN officials stress gender equity as women's anti-discrimination panel opens session

UN officials stress gender equity as women's anti-discrimination panel opens session

A United Nations committee dealing with discrimination against women opened the first part of its 2003 session today with UN officials stressing the importance of promoting gender equity as part of government policy.

A United Nations committee dealing with discrimination against women opened the first part of its 2003 session today with UN officials stressing the importance of promoting gender equity as part of government policy.

In her welcome to the 23 independent experts charged with monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Angela E.V. King, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that ratifications to the Convention and its Optional Protocol had been continuing at a steady pace.

"There are now a total of 170 States parties to the Convention and 49 States who had ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol," she told the opening of the twenty-eight session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in New York.

Carolyn Hannan, Director for the UN Division of the Advancement of Women, added that since the Committee's inception and throughout the 1990s, there had been a steady evolution in its relationship with the intergovernmental process in the promotion of gender equality. And today, when the international community and national governments are focused on the Millennium Development Goals, the organic link between the legal framework for the protection and promotion of women's rights and the policy process is even more crucial, she said.

"It is important to ensure that gender equality remains a critical priority and is pursued not only as a goal in its own right, but also as a means to achieve poverty eradication and sustainable development goals," Ms. Hannan said. The interaction between the Committee, the Commission on the Status of Women and the UN General Assembly had become more important then ever.

The 23 experts of the Committee, who serve in their personal capacities, have met twice annually since 1997. For their opening meeting this year - set to run through 31 January - they are scheduled to review the compliance reports of Albania, Switzerland, Canada, Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Kenya, Luxembourg and Norway.