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UN calls for rights for women during political transitions

The UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice [official website] released a report [text, PDF] Monday calling for a focus on advancing women's rights during political transitions. The group's priorities are discrimination against women in political and public life and discrimination in the economic and social setting. The report includes suggestions such as routine country visits and open communication to help establish good practices and to better understand the context in which discrimination is occurring. The group was concerned by reports that women democracy supporters were excluded from the decision-making process once the drafting of new state constitutions began. Kamala Chandrakirana, head of the group, stated [press release], "Women's full and equal participation in ongoing political transitions in many regions of the world is a prerequisite for any democratic and lasting change, and is critical to sustainable development, peace, and progress." She went on to encourage states to "step-up" their efforts in order to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals [official website] of 30 percent women in decision making positions. The group will present updated reports to the Human Rights Council [official website] in 2013 and 2014.

Securing equality for women is a pressing global concern affecting both women and all members of a community. In June, Egypt elected a second panel [JURIST report] to draft its new constitution. Unlike the first panel, the newly elected 100-member panel represents all Egyptian groups, but still faced criticism for under-representing women, intellectuals and Christians. In May, Moldova was urged to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination laws [JURIST report] to ensure the equal treatment of men and women. The UN working group on discrimination against women in law and in practice pointed out the inefficiency of allowing practices that subject women to discrimination and that special measures should be taken to overcome the under-representation of women in decision-making positions at all levels.

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