UN: UN official says no country has achieved gender parity

New York, US (PANA) - Stating that no country to date has achieved full equality between the sexes,  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein on Tuesday urged the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council "to do better than our societies and make a real difference in achieving gender parity."

"Very frequently, we see a preponderance of women experts on panels that discuss issues
specific to women and children, as if such issues could not be of deep concern to men,"
Al Hussein said in his opening remarks to a panel discussion on gender equality held by
the Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

A UN statement obtained by PANA in New York on the panel discussion, quoted him as saying: "Conversely, discussions on situations of armed conflict, on counter-terrorism, on sanctions regimes, and on the death penalty almost seem as though they are reserved for men.

"The lack of gender parity in UN human rights bodies may indeed be symptomatic of the under-representation of women in UN member states, and we need to do better than our societies."

Al Hussein also spoke of the importance of "visible equality", noting that, "girls may stay away
from computer technology or engineering because beating the boys in maths is seen as somehow 'unfeminine' and girls who grow up seeing only male presidents or ambassadors may develop a belief that power is essentially male."

"Quotas and other temporary efforts to achieve parity can help to bring women’s voices into legal and political systems, the corporate boardroom, the workplace and higher education, also leapfrogging a process that might otherwise take generations," he observed.

Urging action to address discrimination, combat stereotypes, and promote equality at the international and national levels, the UN human rights chief stated: "We must stop regarding parity as a token exercise, and grasp at last that equal representation of women and men, across themes and bodies, not only embodies but also builds more just societies."

Al Hussein disclosed that he would no longer take part in any panel discussion that does not include women experts, and committed to improving gender parity within his office.

At its 6th session, the UN Human Rights Council encouraged States to promote gender balance by taking all the necessary measures, including budgetary and institutional measures, and to guarantee the full participation of women in medium- and high-level ranks.

-0-  PANA  AA/AR  15Sept2015

15 september 2015 18:27:26

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