Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights

Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights

Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights

Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights


The Jakarta Declaration for the Advancement of Women in Asia and the Pacific adopted in June 1994, and the Beijing Platform for Action adopted in September 1995, identified the protection and promotion of the human rights of women as an issue of critical concern. As part of its role in setting international standards for the recognition of the human rights of women, the United Nations produced and adopted the Convention on the elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979. To follow up these developments the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) organised an Expert Group Meeting on Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights which was held in Japan from 7-9 August 1996. This is the report of this expert group meeting. It reviews the progress achieved in the ESCAP region in treating women's rights as human rights. It formulates recommendations on women's legal rights and the elimination of violence against women.


The adoption of a human rights framework to improve the status of women in the public and private spheres has led to some progress in the last two decades in the promotion of the equality of women and men. However, women and men still face differences in the realization of their human rights. These differences are often the result of prevailing cultural and social values and of legal traditions which maintain discriminatory practices, thereby diluting the hard-fought gains made.

The Fourth World Conference on Women, held at Beijing in 1995, reaffirmed that women's rights are human rights. It provided the momentum needed to focus global attention on achieving the objectives of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women before the year 2000.

The Expert Group Meeting on Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights was organized by ESCAP in collaboration with the National Women's Education Centre of Japan. It was held at Saitama, Japan from 7 to 9 August 1996. The Meeting brought together experts from the Asian and Pacific region to review critically the progress made in the ESCAP region towards women's equality with men in the field of human rights. The discussions led to the completion of an ESCAP study, Human Rights and the Legal Status of Women in the Asian and Pacific Region, which was published as the first in a series entitled Studies on Women in Development.

The present publication has three parts. Part one presents the report of the Expert Group Meeting. Part two contains the general statement of the Expert Group, their recommendations and the follow-up actions proposed to realize the recommendations. Part three contains the background country papers presented by the participants at the Meeting.

It is hoped that this publication will be disseminated widely to enable women in Asia and the Pacific to discuss the commonality of the problems faced by them and to share positive developments and experiences in order to strengthen their efforts to achieve human rights and the equal legal status of women in civil and private life.

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