7 August 2006

Background Release

Women's Anti-Discrimination Committee Meets on Country Reports, 7 - 25 August

To Consider Reports by Cape Verde, Chile, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, DR Congo, Denmark, Georgia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines, Moldova, Uzbekistan

NEW YORK, 4 August (Division for the Advancement of Women) -- The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women convenes its thirty-sixth session next week at United Nations Headquarters.

Countries that are party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, sometimes referred to as the international bill of rights for women, legally commit themselves to ending all forms of discrimination against women, be they political, economic, social, cultural, civil or of any other type.  The Convention defines discrimination against women and sets an agenda for action at the national level to end all its forms. 

The Committee, which is made up of 23 independent experts in the fields covered by the Convention who are elected by States parties to serve a term of four years, monitors implementation of the Convention in States parties.  Periodically, the Committee considers the reports of States parties, and evaluates how each State is meeting its obligations under the treaty to eliminate discrimination against women.

From 7 to 25 August, meeting in parallel chambers for the first time ever, the Committee will examine periodic reports of 14 States parties -- Chile, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Georgia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines, Republic of Moldova and Uzbekistan -- and the combined initial and periodic report of one State party, Cape Verde, which will be examined in plenary on 18 August.

At a typical session, the Committee considers individually each State in a process called "constructive dialogue", which is open to the public.  It recognizes progress a State has made in implementing the Convention, identifies concerns about limited or insufficient adherence to the provisions of the Convention and offers suggestions and recommendations to address such challenges in applying the Convention fully and consistently at the national level.  Journalists interested in covering the session are encouraged to attend the constructive dialogue sessions.

Based on their consideration of reports and constructive dialogues, the Committee presents "concluding comments" to each State individually, and, as they become available, they are immediately posted on the Committee's website at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/36sess.htm .  The comments are also incorporated into the Committee's final report on the session.

Non-governmental organizations, which may submit alternate, or "shadow" reports, also have an opportunity to address the Committee on Monday, 7 August and Monday, 14 August.  These sessions are also open, and interested media are encouraged to attend.  More information on participation by non-governmental organizations can be found at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw36/infonote36final.pdf .

The Committee also has responsibilities under the Optional Protocol to the Convention.  Of the Convention's 183 States parties, 79 are also party to the Protocol, which provides those parties with a significant additional incentive to intensify their efforts to eliminate and prevent discrimination against women, in both law and in practice.

For individual women, if they are living in a State that is party to both the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Protocol provides for a petition process and an inquiry procedure into situations of grave or systemic violations of women's rights.

The provisional agenda, including the schedule of meetings, and other background documents for the thirty-sixth session, including the reports of the fifteen States parties and information on the Committee, can be found online at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/36sess.htm .

For further information, please contact  Ellen McGuffie, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel: 212 963 0499 or Wenyan Yang, United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, tel: 212 963 4714

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