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Dialogue on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice and on the Right to Education
June 16, 2014

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice (Frances Raday) and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (Kishore Singh)

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

UN Human Rights Council – 26th Session
Geneva, June 16, 2014

As Delivered by Kevin P. Whelan

Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice
We strongly support the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice. While we don’t agree with everything in the Working Group’s latest report or all of the recommendations, we believe it makes an important contribution to our understanding of this important issue and appreciate many of its recommendations.

The United States commends the Working Group for its decision to focus its research in 2013 and 2014 on discrimination against women in economic and social life.
A nation cannot move forward with half its population left behind.  The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law report indicated that out of 143 economies surveyed, 128 have at least one legal differentiation that impacts women’s ability to participate in the economy.  Discriminatory legislation, and the lack of application of anti-discrimination measures, can have a negative impact on the growth of a nation.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that if developing countries removed constraints that prevent equal yields of land farmed by women and men, they could boost their agricultural output by enough to pull 100 to 150 million people out of hunger.  It is to the benefit of all nations to remove legal barriers on women’s equal economic and social participation.

The United States also appreciates the Working Group’s recognition of the importance of providing girls with access to a high-quality primary and secondary education.  Preparing girls to participate in the labor force and increasing the percentage of girls who attend and complete school will drive economic growth and deliver a basic human right. Although significant progress has been made, education—particularly the provision of a safe and high-quality secondary education—remains another important factor to consider in any discussion on economic and social participation.

We appreciate the Working Group’s recognition of the severe impact violence against women can have on their economic and social potential.  Survivors may experience isolation, inability to work, lack of participation in regular activities, and limited ability to care for themselves and their children.  Violence against women is an important factor to consider in any discussion on economic and social participation.

When the rights of women and girls are respected and properly acknowledged in legislation; when they are able to actively participate in economic and social spheres to improve their lives and the lives of their families; then we as an international community will come one step closer to a future of gender equality.

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education
The United States thanks Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh for his May report on the Right to Education.  The United States strongly supports the right to access to education, and this resolution’s focus on assessments.

Although the United States does not have a national curriculum, we regularly implement assessments, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which implements NAEP, is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the United States and other nations.  This center fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.  These assessment initiatives have informed policy changes and improvements on the local, state, and national level for decades.

In addition, individual states within the United States do assessments on their content standards.  Individual states and communities, as well as public and private organizations, establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation.  Furthermore, we support the Special Rapporteur’s continued commitment to the comprehensive training of teachers and thank him for his continued advocacy that the right to education should not be implemented in a discriminatory fashion.

Thank you.