Thursday, July 17, 2003

CEDAW in Morocco

The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. CEDAW is often described as an international bill of rights for women that defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations.

According to the Convention, discrimination against women is "... any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."

Having ratified CEDAW, Morocco (as any country that has ratified the Convention) is legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.

Following this committment:

Presenting Morocco's second periodic report on the implementation of the convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, Morocco's ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Bennouna, underlined that this process is being conducted in Morocco "within the respect of our religion, culture, and civilization."

He also detailed Morocco's moves to materialize the convention, underlining that Morocco is keen on having women play an important role in various walks of life.

In 2002, the scope of responsibilities taken by women was enlarged, he said, citing as an example the 30 seats reserved to women at the House of Representatives.

The diplomat also recalled that micro-credits allocated by the government and that benefited mainly to women part of a policy to help poor populations, adding that substantial progress was achieved regarding women access to education, health and labor.

As to the national strategy to fight violence against women, it includes several axes that deal most importantly with legislative reforms, extending assistance to violence-victim women and developing infrastructures, financial resources and human resources development.

All of this is, of course, great news. But it just ads to the sadness and anger inherent in knowing that the US refuses to ratify CEDAW. According to the United Nations Department of Public Information, 22 countries have not yet ratified CEDAW. The US is the only Western country not to do so. Among others who have not yet ratifed: Afghanistan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates.

No comments: