Ambassador Mamabolo highlighted the South African constitution’s provisions on gender equality, and detailed the extent to which provisions are translated into practice. One novel practice is the impending legislation that mandates the government and private institutions to achieve a 50:50 gender ratio in the makeup of the employees, especially those at the decision-making level. Another practice is the establishment of specialized Sexual Offences Court, which provides expedient judicial process with regards to gender-based crime.
Dr. Hofmeister celebrated the Austrian accomplishments in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and also listed the domestic reform on family, labour and criminal law that give effects to the convention. However, she also cautioned the audience that the Fritzl case of a girl being locked in a basement reminds us not to be complacent in ensuring women enjoy their full rights. Dr. Hofmeister highlighted the positive role of women jurists in advancing women’s access to justice, a point which Ms. Duncan expanded on when explaining the importance of involving women in the justice chain.
Ms. Duncan commended the practices in judicial reform tailored for women in Austria and South Africa, and explained how these policies are reformulated and emulated elsewhere around the world. She added that UN-Women and other organizations focus on helping countries to undergo gender-based judicial reform, develop legal aid, train judges to be gender-sensitive, and cultivate effective informal dispute resolution mechanisms. In reminding the audience that the work on women’s access to justice is unfinished, she said that a number of countries still allow customary laws to prevail over women’s fundamental entitlement to inheritance, marriage and employment.
Ambassador Sajdik concluded by urging the audience to passionately champion for women, “for not a single country can claim that it has achieved gender equality between women and men” yet.
Meeting Title: 12th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Speakers: H.E. Dr. Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representatives of Austria to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Jeremiah Nyamane Kinglsey Mamabolo, Permanent Representatives of South Africa to the United Nations; Dr. Lilian Hofmeister, Substitute Judge at the Constitutional Court and CEDAW-candidate, Austria; Ms. Beatrice Duncan, Justice and Constitutional Advisor, UN Women.
Location: Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: June 23th, 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark