Boost For Women's Rights By UN

  • Simon Upton
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The fight to end discrimination against women has been boosted by a new United Nations complaints process, Women's Affairs Minister Hon Georgina te Heuheu and Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Simon Upton said today.

Negotiations at the United Nations last week ended with agreement that an existing committee of women's rights experts could now consider complaints alleging violation of women's rights by states.

These rights are set out by the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the complaints process is covered by an Optional Protocol that states can become party to once the Protocol is approved by the UN General Assembly later this year.

Ms te Heuheu and Mr Upton welcomed the support given to the Optional Protocol, which will be the first treaty on women's rights drawn up by the United Nations in the 20 years since CEDAW was adopted.

The Protocol will give women the right to complain to the CEDAW Committee about breaches of the Convention by their Governments. It will provide for better enforcement of women's rights and will enable the Committee to conduct inquiries into serious or systematic abuses of women's rights in countries that are party to the Protocol.

'It will be an effective tool for women around the world in their efforts to combat continuing widespread discrimination and violations of their human rights,' Ms te Heuheu and Mr Upton said.

New Zealand was represented at the United Nations meeting and took a positive and constructive approach towards concluding the Optional Protocol negotiations.

The Ministers said that New Zealand was an active supporter of CEDAW with Justice Dame Silvia Cartwright being a member of the women's rights committee.