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International community urged to revoke remaining sex discriminatory laws against women at UN commission

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 — Non-governmental organization (NGO) Equality Now launched its Beijing+15 campaign here on Friday, which urged governments all around the globe to revoke any remaining sex discriminatory laws against women.

The campaign here at the UN Headquarters in New York also marked the 15th anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) to guide the actions of the world on women today.

Part of the launch included the release of a report titled "Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing + 15 Review Process," where Equality Now called on the UN to appoint a special mechanism within the Human Rights Council to monitor equality before the law.

The report, which is the latest of a series of three reports, covers 36 countries from different regions of the world and highlights such discriminatory laws in regards to marriage, economical status and violence against women.

At the fifth year review of the World Conference on Women in 2000, governments had set 2005 as the deadline to revoke all sex discriminatory laws. The report warns that the follow-through in this still has not been achieved.

"Woman and girls can no longer wait," Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of Equality Now, warned at a press conference here at the launch here Friday. "Too many discriminatory (laws) still exist."

Such laws can "endorse and actively perpetuate gender inequality," Bien-Aime said, singling out the Afghan Shia Personal Status law of 2009 as a key discriminatory law which establishes men as heads of households.

The report sounded the alarm on countries such as Algeria, Israel, Japan, Mali and Yemen, where women hold the secondary status role in marriages. This in turn allows polygamy, authorizes male guardianship over women and provides unequal rights within marriage and to divorce.

The report also commended several countries, such as India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Serbia and Montenegro, which have recognized a women's personal right to not be raped.

The launch was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations and also included remarks from Kenyan Minister of Gender Esther Murugi Mathenge and French Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cecile Sportis.

Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls all around the world.

The event was held in parallel with the two-week-long 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting, in which more than 2,000 representatives of women's groups and UN officials gather and discuss goals of gender equality, development and peace, and set priority actions to achieve these goals. (PNA/Xinhua)


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