General Comment on the HRC Resolution "Elimination of Discrimination Against Women"

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Geneva, October 1, 2010

The United States and the international community have long recognized that discrimination against women is a global problem, which needs to be tackled wholeheartedly and head on. In creating a strong mechanism to combat such discrimination, this resolution will create a powerful new tool for use in this effort.

Therefore, we are pleased to cast our vote for this resolution and strongly urge other states to do the same. It has long been recognized that women and men are equally entitled to all human rights and fundamental freedoms. While the rights of women have advanced since the founding of the United Nations, more work remains to be done.

As President Obama recently reminded us, “fifteen years after the world gathered in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women, far too many women around the world still lack access to basic education and economic opportunity, face gender-based violence, and cannot participate fully and equally in their societies.” The1995 Beijing Platform for Action called upon all relevant UN bodies to give “full, equal and sustained attention to the human rights of women.”

This resolution reinforces the role States play in taking appropriate measures to address the problem of discrimination against women and calls upon States to revoke laws that discriminate on the basis of sex. It stresses the need to promote equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, which the United States interprets as calling for non-discrimination in terms of remuneration.

Support of this resolution moves the international community a step closer to realizing the goal that women everywhere enjoy all human rights without prejudice or discrimination. That “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights” is at the core of this powerful mandate.

With UN Women becoming operational in January 2011, this resolution is also extraordinarily timely. That body “will enhance, not replace, efforts by other parts of the UN system,” as it is geared toward mainstreaming gender throughout the UN system. UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council “will continue to have a responsibility to work for gender equality and women’s empowerment.” In fact, UN bodies are expected to redouble their efforts to do so.

By creating this mechanism, the Council would serve as an example within the UN system for striving toward these goals. Every state has an interest in eliminating discrimination against women. As Secretary Clinton has stated “The evidence is irrefutable. When women are free to develop their talents, all people benefit: women and men, girls and boys. When women are free to vote and run for public office, governments are more effective and responsive to their people…When women are given the opportunity of education and access to health care, their families and communities prosper. And when women have equal rights, nations are more stable, peaceful, and secure.”

We therefore wholeheartedly support this historic resolution, and echo the call of Colombia and Mexico in urging other states to join us.

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