A United Nations (UN) special committee will on January 29 evaluate Botswana’s progress in meeting its obligations under a treaty that requires the country to eliminate discrimination against women.
The UN committee opens its three-week forty-fifth session, scheduled to run from 18 January to 5 February, next week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and will review reports from Botswana, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Malawi, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Egypt and Panama.
Botswana as a state party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has legally committed itself to ending all forms of discrimination against women, be they political, economic, social, cultural, civil or of any other type. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a 23-person expert body established to monitor compliance with the treaty, will be considering state party reports required under the Convention to assess to what extent each state is meeting its obligations, and making recommendations aimed at implementation of the provisions of the convention.
The committee will also consider, in private, communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of their rights under the convention by states that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
Representatives of non-governmental organizations will be expected to submit their own reports and present information to the Committee.
Non-governmental organizations will have the opportunity to address the Committee on Monday, 18 January and Monday, 25 January, in the afternoon. National human rights institutions may also present reports to the Committee and address it orally in separate meetings convened on those days.
At the time of going to press, Sunday Standard had not established if any NGO or private citizen will make a representation to the committee.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979, and entered into force on 3 September 1981. Often described as an international bill of rights for women, the convention contains a preamble and 30 articles in which it defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Since its entry into force, the Convention has achieved near-universal acceptance, with 186 States parties.
The Convention defines discrimination against women as “… any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”. By accepting the convention, Botswana committed itself to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including by incorporating the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system; abolishing all discriminatory laws and adopting appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women; establishing tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and ensuring elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.