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Bahá’í delegates prepare for UN Commission on women

The Director for the Advancement of Women for the Bahá’í Community of Canada, along with two Bahá’í girls, are set to attend this year’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The Commission on the Status of Women, which is the principal United Nations agency dedicated to promoting equality between women and men, has focused each year on areas of concern that were identified at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Its theme this year is the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.

In support of the theme, two Canadian Bahá’í girls, one from les Îles de la Madeleine, Québec, and the other from Westbank, British Columbia, will accompany Director for the Advancement of Women Élizabeth Wright as the Canadian Bahá’í delegates to the Commission, which hold its sessions at UN headquarters in New York.

The girls will be joining hundreds of other youth from around the world to discuss ways of eradicating violence against girls and women.

“With the Bejing Platform for Action, Resolution 1325, and CEDAW [Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women], the UN has several instruments at its disposal to combat violence against women,” says Wright. “And yet, we are now seeing an increase in such violence. So the challenge is to see how we can implement these internationally binding instruments.”

The UN Secretary-General, in his 9 October 2006 study on the issue, notes that human trafficking, domestic violence, and “honour” crimes are among the most serious expressions of violence against women occurring worldwide.

In one section of the study, the Secretary-General places responsibility for upholding the full and inalienable rights of women partly on the shoulders of religious leaders:

“The emergence in many places of a backlash against advances in the status of women has increased the difficulty of changing sociocultural attitudes that perpetuate impunity for violence against women,” the study says. “In some contexts, organized political forces, including different forms of cultural or religious ‘fundamentalisms,’ have put pressure on Governments to reverse advances in women’s rights. Previous gains by women have been eroded or are under threat in some countries around the world.”

Earlier in 2006, the Bahá’í International Community submitted a statement to the United Nations recommending ways of building on the instruments at the UN’s disposal. The statement notes that, “In order to deliver on its many commitments, the international community needs to dramatically increase the power, authority and resources dedicated to women’s human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

The Commission on the Status of Women will convene for its 51st session on February 26th and run for a week and a half. This is the tenth year that the Bahá’í Community of Canada is participating in the Commission.

Read the Bahá’í International Community’s statement “Beyond Legal Reforms.”

Visit the Commission on the Status of Women website for further information.

Read the UN Secretary-General’s “In-depth study on all forms of violence against women.”