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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Third Committee
13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3745
16 October 2003


THIRD COMMITTEE SPEAKERS STRESS IMPORTANCE OF MEASURES TO EMPOWER,
PROTECT WOMEN, AS DEBATE ON WOMEN’S ISSUES CONTINUES

Policy Options Discussed Include Those
Promoting Employment, Economic Opportunities


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its consideration of the advancement of women.

For further background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3744 of 15 October.

Statements

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SEHAAM MEKASHBER (Libya) ...

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She expressed her concern about the situation of women in Africa who were suffering due to poverty, disease, and conflicts.  Despite efforts made, the situation in Africa called for international commitment.  She also raised concern about Palestinian women and women in the Syrian Golan.  The occupation by Israel must be brought to an end since it undermined civil society in the region.

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NADYA RASHEED, Observer for Palestine, said while women throughout the world were making progress towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of Beijing +5, the situation of Palestinian women continued to deteriorate in all respects.  Palestinian women continued in their struggle to achieve freedom, peace and prosperity in the face of the harsh reality of the continuing Israeli occupation.  They also continued to fight inequality and discrimination in order to play an active role within their society.  Basic rights such as the freedom of movement, right to work, right to education, right to a standard of living for the health and well-being of themselves and family, right to medical care, and the right to be treated with respect and dignity, were denied on a daily basis, making any effort for their advancement not only difficult, but impossible.

She said that since 28 September 2000, over 2,570 Palestinians had been brutally killed and highlighted Israeli actions of State terrorism, human rights violations, demolitions, confiscations and restrictions of movement.  This situation had weakened the economic situation, affecting the health of Palestinian women and their children.  Only an end to the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State would allow Palestinian women to pursue initiatives towards their advancement.

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ISMAT JAHAN (Bangladesh) ...

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Globally, there were some areas of concern that required more attention, she said.  Those included the situation of women in armed conflict, including those under foreign occupation, such as in the Palestinian territories, and the issues of violence against women and trafficking in women.  Persistent violence against women was a sad reminder that the true achievement and empowerment of women was yet a long way off.  Multidimensional and multisectoral approaches and strategies were urgently needed to reverse the situation.  Civil society and media could also play an important role by raising awareness on the severe consequences of violence on the physical and mental health of women.

MU’TAZ HYASSAT (Jordan) ...

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The implementation of international obligations, already difficult in times of peace, was even more difficult when women were faced with armed conflict and forced occupation, which gave rise to different forms of violence and abuse.  He called on the international community to help alleviate the suffering of women by ensuring that those who violated humanitarian law were punished.  To increase international cooperation in promoting the rights of women, Jordan hosted, last year, the Arab Summit of Women, which had adopted a coordinated strategy to enhance the capabilities of Arab women.

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Statements in Exercise of Right of Reply

A representative of Israel exercised her right of reply in response to a statement made earlier by the observer of Palestine.  She said the statement had been politically motivated.  The unfortunate condition of Palestinian women was a direct consequence of the unfortunate conditions of Israeli women facing the threats of barbarous Palestinian suicide bombings.  Israeli women carried the brunt of the suffering due to Palestinian suicide-bombings. 

The Israeli Government was forced to defend its population, and regrettably, sometimes, the protection measures caused some difficulty for the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people, she said.  However, the defence measures were a direct result of Palestinian actions.  It was noteworthy and regrettable, that Palestine had made remarkable strides in the advancement of women in the realm of suicide bombers.  There had now been six female suicide bombers, with several other female suicide bombers having been apprehended before they had been able to blow themselves up.  Those women were depicted as heroines in their communities, and, that promotion had led to a string of attacks made by female suicide bombers.  It was unfortunate that summer camps had been named after female suicide bombers as if they were role models.

In response to the Israeli representative’s statement, the observer of Palestine said the Palestinian leadership had repeatedly stated, officially and unofficially, that suicide bombings were wrong.  It had also stated that the killing of innocent civilians, Israeli or Palestinian, were wrong.

All the violence taking place must be put in context, she said, noting that the first suicide bombing did not occur until 27 years after occupation began.  It was also important to bear in mind that these suicide bombings were being committed by individuals, not by the Government.  It was the institutionalized policy of the Israeli government that was the root cause of the suicide bombings taking place today.

The representative of Israel said the promotion of female suicide-bombings was not advancement of the role of women.  It was a strategic and social move on the part of the Palestinian Authority.  It was strategic because they were aware of the reluctance of the Israeli side to investigate and search women.  It was social in the emotional abuse of vulnerable young women, forcing them to kill themselves and civilians –- a vile exploitation of the human rights of women.

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