Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
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Statement to the Human Rights Council

AUSTRALIA

Item 3 General Debate

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

Australia welcomes the presentation by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the thematic reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner. We highly value the work of the Office in responding to the mandates given by this Council and have carefully read the reports provided. We welcome the focus of this Council session on women’s rights and gender equality.

Australia reaffirms its unwavering commitment to promoting and protecting women’s human rights. We are strongly committed to realising gender equality, both domestically and internationally. Australia recognises that both women and men have an equal role to play in all aspects of society.

Women’s human rights are critical to achieving gender equality. However all too often women’s rights are not seen as central to the achievement of human rights. If we are to achieve gender equality, the international community must fully respect women’s rights as human rights.

There is a strong international framework underpinning global efforts to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women. 2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Along with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the UN Millennium Declaration, these documents form the international framework for the empowerment of women and the advancement of gender equality that have seen women’s rights better recognised and implemented in national policies and legislation.

National human rights institutions play a critical role in promoting women’s rights and achieving equality at a local, national and international level. They are also crucial to promoting understanding and acceptance of the notion that human rights apply equally to all people.

For these reasons, Australia played a leading role in the development of a joint statement distributed on behalf of human rights institutions in eleven countries at the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The statement calls for greater participation of and independent status for national human rights institutions in the deliberations of the Commission consistent with the role they play here at the Human Right Council and other UN bodies.

Australia will continue to support efforts, both nationally and internationally, to promote gender equality and ensure that women’s human rights are fully realised and respected.