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Iraq must work to protect and promote women's rights, UN expert panel says

Iraq must work to protect and promote women's rights, UN expert panel says

Ayse Feride Acar briefs journalists
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is preparing a statement urging the new Iraqi authorities to ensure gender equality throughout the process of political transition and reconstruction, its chairperson said today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

"We are particularly concerned that the laws that will be developed by the interim Government in Iraq ensure that women's rights, particularly in the family and personal status laws, are protected on the basis of equality with men," Ayse Feride Acar, head of the expert panel, told a press briefing.

She stressed that the authorities must ensure women's participation in the upcoming elections - not just as voters but as candidates - and in all phases of the reconstruction process.

Iraq is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women monitored by the panel, which tomorrow wraps up a three-week session at the UN.

During their meetings, experts considered reports of eight States parties: Angola, Latvia, Malta, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Argentina.

Drawing conclusions from this work, Ms. Acar noted that women everywhere suffer from upheaval. They are "influenced by economic crisis, by political crisis, by conflict and in ways that are different from the way men are impacted," she said.

Some countries were coping with the overarching problems but were not paying due attention to the gender dimension. "For instance, poverty alleviation programmes are there, but unless there are specific measures and a particular perspective that targets women in these poverty alleviation programmes, neither sustainable development nor effective alleviation will take place," she said.

Funding is also critical, she argued. "We found that specific resources need to be earmarked for women's programmes in order to cope with the negative impact of economic crisis."


Video of press briefing [20mins]