(By Francis Ameyibor, GNA Special Correspondent; Geneva, Switzerland)
Eight Countries including Ghana are appearing before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), at its 59th session from October 20 to November 7, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland to defend gender records.

CEDAWThe other countries are Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, China, Guinea, Poland, Solomon Islands, and Venezuela.

CEDAW is an expert body established in 1982, with a mandate to watch over the progress for women made in countries that are the States parties to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

A country becomes a State party by ratifying or acceding to the Convention and thereby accepting a legal obligation to counteract discrimination against women.

Information obtained by the Ghana News Agency in Geneva indicates that Ghana has submitted response to list of issues and questions in relation to the combined 60th and 70th periodic reports which gives detail national information and policies aimed at gender mainstreaming and elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

Ghana?s responses is focusing on Constitutional, Legislative and Institutional Framework; Access to Justice; National Machinery for the Advancement of Women; Temporary Special Measures; Social Protection Policies; Stereotypes and Harmful Practices; Violence Against Women; The Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732); Challenges and Difficulties; and Trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution.

Other issues are: Participation in Political and Public Life; Affirmative Action; Nationality; Education; Enrolments; Employment; Health; Maternal Mortality and Morbidity; Malaria Control; Fistula; Centre for Health and Social Services (CHSS); Registration of the Aged on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); Permissible Abortion; HIV/AIDS; Rural Women; Disadvantaged groups of women; Marriage and Family Relations; and Child Marriage.

Nana Oye Lithur Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, who is the head of Ghana?s mission, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency said in June 2012, Ghana submitted its 60th and 70th Consolidated Periodic Report to the CEDAW Committee.

She said after reviewing the report, the Committee made some observations and raised them as list of issues to be answered by the Government of Ghana. ?Ghana is therefore in Geneva to provide concise responses to the matters raised by the Committee and also highlights significant efforts made in addressing important needs and concerns of women in Ghana within the reporting period.

According to a programme outlined obtained by the Ghana News Agency in Geneva, the 59th session of CEDAW will officially open today Monday, October 20 with consideration of report of activities undertaken between the 58 and 59 sessions.

CEDAW will consider the reports submitted by States parties under its article 18; follow-up to the consideration of reports submitted by States parties under CEDAW article 18.

In accordance with CEDAW article 22, the specialized agencies of the United Nations have been invited to submit to reports on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of their activities.

There Committee will also hold informal meetings with United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, and with national human rights institutions.

Other issues to be considered are the adoption of the agenda and organization; activities of the Committee under the Optional Protocol; provisional agenda for the 60th session of the Committee and adoption of the report of the Committee on its 59th session.

GNA information indicates that some of the UN bodies invited includes UNESCO who continue to contribute to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information.

In accordance with UNESCO?s Medium-Term Strategy for 2008-2013, gender equality was designated as one of the two global priorities of the Organization and continues to be global priority for the period 2014-2021.

The Priority Gender Equality is pursued through a two pronged approach, gender specific programming and mainstreaming of gender equality perspectives in all of UNESCO?s fields of competence.

UNESCO therefore has a major role and responsibility within the United Nations system for the implementation of the CEDAW as Article 10 of the Convention provides that ?the States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education??. The right to education is at the very heart of UNESCO’s mission and represents an integral part of its constitutional mandate.

The provisions of article 11 of the CEDAW Convention dealt with in a number of International Labour Organisations (ILO) Conventions.

According to information available to the GNA, of the 189 Conventions adopted so far, Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), has been ratified by 171 member States; Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), has been ratified by 172 member States; and Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), which has been ratified by 43 member States.

CEDAW as part of its mandate monitors the implementation of national measures to fulfill its obligation.

At each of its sessions, the Committee reviews national reports submitted by the States parties within one year of ratification or accession, and thereafter every four years.

These reports, which cover national action taken to improve the situation of women, are presented to the Committee by Government representatives.

CEDAW experts comment on the report and obtain additional information and makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention.



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