Press Release by United Nation's Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today (October 15, 2012) to begin its consideration of the advancement of women. For its discussion, the Committee had before it a number of reports, the first of which was the Secretary-General's report on Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women (document A/67/220), detailing State measures and United Nations activities to address violence against women. The report recommends, among other things, more focus on the protection of victims/survivors, and services provision to reinforce the message that violence against women must not be tolerated. The prevalence of violence against women worldwide is still high, with challenges ranging from the underreporting of incidents, to barriers to justice, protection and services, and insufficient enforcement of legislation. States are encouraged to adopt a systematic approach based on human rights and gender equality, and to adopt legislation that not only criminalizes such violence, but also mandates prevention and protection for victims/survivors.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General, transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Rashida Manjoo, (document A/67/227) who provides an overview of her work and discusses the issue of violence against women with disabilities. The report notes that while ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international law instruments is widespread, it has been difficult to assess implementation of those instruments with regard to preventing and responding to violence against women with disabilities. Most States lack a specific and comprehensive law, policy or programmes on persons with disabilities in general or on women with disabilities in particular. States that have a disability law do not specifically address the rights of women with disabilities.As such, States should ensure an empowerment perspective, as opposed to a vulnerability perspective, the report says, and apply a social model of disability, as opposed to a medical or charity model, within prevention and response work on violence against women with disabilities. Among other things, the report also recommends that States should revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex/gender against women with disabilities and address gender bias against those women in the administration of justice. They should improve and expand disaggregated data collection, including on the prevalence, manifestations, causes and consequences of violence against women with disabilities.
The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretariat on ending female genital mutilation (document A/C.3/67/L.2), by which the Committee would take note of the Secretary-General's report on that topic and decide to consider the issue of ending female genital mutilation at its sixty-seventh session under the agenda item “Advancement of Women”.The report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (document A/67/38) summarizes that body's work during the forty-ninth session, held from 11 to 29 July 2011, as well as the fiftieth session, held from 3 to 21 October 2011, and the fifty-first session, held from 13 February to 2 March 2012.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on Trafficking in women and girls (document A/67/170), which details efforts by States and the United Nations to tackle that issue. It recommends that States ensure that laws criminalizing trafficking in persons, especially women and girls, are developed in line with standards set by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols. States also should create specialized investigation units, prosecution offices, judges and/or courts to increase the number of investigations and prosecutions.Updated gender-sensitive national plans were also needed, the report says, as were national, multisectoral coordination mechanisms. The report also recommends that States implement bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements to ensure action in all areas, including law enforcement and prosecution, prevention and victim support. They should take more action to deal with the issues that make people vulnerable to trafficking, notably poverty and educational access.The Secretary-General's report on Supporting efforts to end obstetric fistula (document A/67/258) outlines efforts made at the international, regional and national levels, and by the United Nations, to end that childbirth injury. It offers recommendations to intensify efforts, within a human rights-based approach, to end obstetric fistula as a key step towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 5, by improving maternal health, strengthening health systems, reducing health inequities, and increasing the levels and predictability of funding.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's note (document A/67/261) transmitting the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ezeilo, which covers the 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012 period. It contains a thematic analysis of human trafficking in supply chains, in which the Special Rapporteur examines the international legal framework and standards applicable to States and businesses, as well as non-binding codes of conduct and principles adopted by businesses. It also offers examples of public-private partnerships.Among her recommendations, the Special Rapporteur notes wide international consensus that businesses have responsibilities to respect human rights and are uniquely positioned to prevent trafficking risks in their supply chains. The companies should become signatories to the Global Compact and the Athens Ethical Principles, assess their production chains and adopt company-wide policies to eliminate risks. For their part, States should ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Person, Especially Women and Children, and ensure the enforcement of relevant laws.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on Measures taken and progress achieved in follow-up to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (document A/67/185), which focuses on the extent to which gender perspectives are reflected in selected intergovernmental processes of the United Nations. Among its conclusions, the report notes there was little evidence that a gender perspective was integrated into the General Assembly's work in the areas of disarmament and related international security questions, administrative and budgetary issues and international legal matters. In addition, the Economic and Social Council and its functional commissions should more systematically integrate a gender perspective. It recommends the Assembly reiterate its call to all intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations to fully mainstream a gender perspective into all issues under their consideration and within their mandates.The Secretary-General's report on the improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system (document A/67/347) provides information on the status of women in the 32 funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations for the 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2011 period. It contains statistics, information and analysis on progress made and obstacles encountered in achieving gender balance and improvement in the status of women.It notes that, notwithstanding progressive trends, there remains both an inverse relationship between the level and the representation of women (except the ungraded level) and a slowing in the overall rate of growth. The proportion of women stands at 60.2 per cent at the P-1 level and 27.4 per cent at the D-2 level, and the growth rate in women's overall representation slowed from 1.5 percentage points in the previous two-year reporting period to 0.8 percentage points in the current reporting period. At the present rate of change, the General Assembly mandate to achieve gender parity by 2000, now 12 years past due, will not be achieved for 102 years at the higher levels (D-1 to ungraded) and 20 years at all Professional levels. Heads of department and senior managers should prioritize women's representation at both those levels across functions. Temporary special measures for women's advancement should be used for the placement of women candidates who are equally or substantially better qualified, and should be introduced or restored in entities where progress is slow.