Discrimination against women exists in most countries: UN

March 7th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by admin  

Geneva, March 7 (DPA) Laws that discriminate against women still exist in almost every country in the world, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said Friday. Speaking on the eve of the International Women’s Day, Arbour said the failure to create true legal parity between men and women was having “a detrimental effect on women in many countries, sometimes to a devastating degree.

“Rape is recognized as a crime in most legal systems, but even when it is (so), inadequate legislation or local traditions often mean laws are not properly enforced,” she added.

According to a report published by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), discriminatory laws were found on almost every statute book and repeated promises by states to revise or repeal them had not been honoured.

In some countries women had no right to own land or inherit property, they could only move around if accompanied by a man, or their educational and career prospects were extremely limited.

Arbour said: “What is clear is that many states are failing to live up to their promises to review their laws and root out institutional discrimination, and millions of women continue to suffer grave injustices as a result.

“Until states take their commitments seriously, investing in women and girls would remain a matter of rhetoric,” she added.

Meanwhile, gatherings and celebrations were held in many countries to highlight the achievements of women in various fields.

Xinhua reported from Kabul: Hundreds of Afghans Friday joined the UN in events across the war-torn country to call for greater investment in women-related developmental projects ahead of the Women’s Day Saturday.

In the Afghan capital, women and children streamed into the women’s garden where a fair is being organised by a UN agency to mark the day. A film highlighting the realities of the daily lives of Afghan women and children was screened.

Bo Asplund, special representative for the UN Secretary-General in Afghanistan, said in a statement Friday that despite the progress made in Afghanistan, violence against women continues. Many women continue to die from complications during childbirth and many remain illiterate.

According to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), women represent 27 percent of the National Assembly in Afghanistan and account for 25.9 percent of all civil servants.

However, only 38 percent of women in Afghanistan are economically independent. Women receive three times less wages than most men and the average life expectancy for women is only 44 years.

In Cambodia, the UN office in collaboration with several organisations urged the youths to send short messages through their mobile phones to promote awareness on women issues.

The message with the theme “Strong Women, Strong Country” is being sent to people across the country to mark the Women’s Day.

According to the International Labour Organisation, women make up 75 percent of the country’s labour force, the highest among the Southeast Asian countries.

In the Chinese capital Beijing, nearly 1,500 people gathered at the Great Hall of the People Friday to highlight progress of women in Chinese society.

Addressing the gathering, Gu Xiulian, president of the All-China Women’s Federation, said the past year witnessed fresh developments in the cause of Chinese women.

Progress has been made in women’s participation in politics, economy, education, health and legal protection, she said.

China now has 347 million female employees, accounting for 45.4 percent of the people with jobs, according to Gu, who is also vice-chairwoman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“The proportion of women who have jobs is rising steadily and the structure of employment is getting more reasonable,” she said.

Senior Chinese officials including vice-chairman of the NPC standing committee Wang Zhaoguo, women representatives from various circles and foreign women diplomats and experts also attended the meeting.

First observed in 1909 following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, International Women’s Day is a celebration every year on March 8 to highlight economic, political and social achievements of women the world over.

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