The UN Human Rights Council adopted on 1 October 2010 a resolution in which it established for a period of three years a Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice. In the resolution on discrimination against women, the Council called upon States to fulfil their obligations and commitments to revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex and remove gender bias in the administration of justice, taking into account that those laws violate their human right to be protected against discrimination. It decided to establish, for a period of three years, a Working Group of five independent experts on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice. The mandate of the working group would include finding ways to help States to fulfill their commitments to eliminate discrimination against women. The experts will be appointed at the next session of the HRC in March 2011 and the group’s first report is scheduled for the 20th session of the Council in June 2012.
2010 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Platform for Action adopted at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995 where governments pledged to rescind all sex discriminatory laws. In 2000, during the fifth year review of the Conference, governments set 2005 as the deadline for revoking all sex discriminatory laws. However, five years after the deadline, laws continue to explicitly discriminate against women or have a discriminatory impact on women in all spheres. For this reason the women’s organization Equality Now proposed the creation of strong additional measures within the UN whose goal would be to assist elimination of discrimination against women, including in legislation.
The EWL supported the actions of Equality Now for the creation of the new mechanism.