NGO's call on delegates at WCAR to make a difference

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- As delegates Saturday worked to complete final documents on the last day of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, dozens of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have urged them to address a range of issues to improve the situation of the millions of victims of daily discrimination.
The 29 speakers addressing the plenary meeting covered a number of national concerns, as well as addressing more general subjects, including the double discrimination which affects black women, discrimination in the workplace, and identifying the root causes of racism.
Those issues and others, the speakers insisted, should be included in the Conference's Declaration and Programme of Action.
Several NGO representatives spoke about the double discrimination faced by women, with some saying that certain groups of women even suffered further forms of discrimination.
The Women's National Commission described the plight of AIDS widows.
In some areas of the developing world, 92 percent of those who lost a spouse were women and were subject to a wide range of discrimination and loss of rights.
Several speakers talked about the effect racism had on women's health.
The representative of Women's Health in Women's Hands said racism has established barriers to health-care access.
The impact of racism on the health of black women, in particular, is apparent in the cases of HIV/AIDS.
Black women make up 23 percent of AIDS-related deaths, and have the fastest growing rate of infection after homosexuals and intravenous drug users.
In addition, speakers from the African and African Descent Women's Caucus said the specific discrimination suffered by black women often gets lost because human rights' agencies treat anti- black racism and anti-women discrimination as mutually exclusive.
Such discrimination also affected the world of work, others said.
According to the World Confederate of Labour, black women were paid 55 percent less than white women, who already received less pay than men.
A speaker from the Roma Centre for Public Policies "Aven Amentza," called attention to the situation of the Roma people, who, she said, have suffered centuries of discrimination and abuse by European countries.
The speaker said the UN should recognise the Roma non- territorial nations and provide for adequate Roma representation in its fora.
NGO's from all regions of the world have been a vocal presence in Durban since the Conference opened last Friday.
Last weekend, they approved an NGO Declaration and Programme of Action, which were presented to the Conference.
But some NGO's expressed regret about the process of adopting those documents.
The United Nations Association of China said Chinese NGO's were discriminated against and not listened to in the drafting process.

08 september 2001 11:25:00

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