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AGENDA ITEM 95: ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (continued)
AGENDA ITEM 96: FORWARD-LOOKING STRATEGIES FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN TO THE YEAR 2000 (continued)
AGENDA ITEM 97: INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH AND TRAINING INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL (continued)
Ms. AL-HAMMAMI (Yemen), confining her statement to item 95 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, said that the pace of development of Yemeni society could be measured by examining women's role in Yemen today. Women enjoyed all rights in accordance with article 34 of the Constitution, which stipulated that women had a right to a life of dignity and to equality with men. Women participated constructively in economic development and offset the reduction in human resources resulting from the emigration of large numbers of Yemeni men.
The role of women was not restricted to participation in economic development but extended to the political and social spheres. Women had exercised their right to stand for election to the municipal councils, whose basic task it was to supervise development in the various parts of the country. Women had also participated as members in the People's Congresses. Proof of the existence of those rights was contained in the National Charter, which stipulated that all citizens, both men and women, were accorded complete freedom within the law and the right to vote, to express their opinions, to participate in public life, to enjoy all political and civil rights and to stand for election. Such achievements had encouraged women to participate more actively in the economic, social and political development process.
In the context of the agenda item under consideration, it was fitting to consider the situation of women in occupied Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories as well as in Namibia and South Africa. Those women, subject to death, torture and oppression at the hands of the Zionist and the criminal apartheid régime, had been deprived of their fundamental human rights and even found themselves without a shelter in which to live a stable and peaceful family life. Women in Palestine, the occupied territories, Namibia and South Africa must receive support in order to create a climate in which future generations could live free of deprivation and secure against dispersal.
Ms. BARGHOUTI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) said that the uprooting by the Zionist State of Israel of over 600,000 Palestinians from their homeland had imposed brutal exile on Palestinian women, who, like their counterparts in South Africa and Namibia, had nevertheless continued to confront their oppressors with courage, strength and determination. The emergence of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its integral component, the General Union of Palestinian Women, had been a turning point in the struggle of the Palestinian people in general and Palestinian women in particular. The latter, having twice undergone separation from their families as a result of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and other Arab territories, had resisted the sub-human conditions, developed strategies for social and national liberation and played a major role in preserving their people's heritage. In the refugee camps in Lebanon, they had defended their people and national identity. During the siege of Beirut in 1982 they had cared for the wounded, fed the hungry and borne arms to resist the Zionist force.
The destruction of Palestinian institutions and records in the aftermath of the war had hampered the efforts to obtain help, diminished employment opportunities and pension benefits and hampered the operation of bodies such as the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and Samed Institutions. The continuous attacks on the refugee camps added further misery to the already harsh existence of Palestinian women. who were deprived of food, electricity, gas and medical supplies. Doctor Pauline Cutting, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in the Gaza hospital during the time of siege, had testified to the dreadful insanitary conditions, aggravated by lack of water and power supplies and the bombing.
In the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian women had suffered from brutal Israeli attacks on their people. They continued to he tortured in prisons, killed during peaceful protests and subjected to arrests. She recounted cases of Palestinian wives and mothers who had been killed or seriously injured without pretext, such accounts, far from being isolated incidents, were part of a record which had become the subject of growing international concern, especially since the beginning of the United Nations Decade for Women. After the florid Conference of the International Women's Year, special attention had been paid to the specific needs of Palestinian women and children and measures to assist them. In addition, the General Assembly, in resolution 38/18 had stated that the World Conference to review and appraise the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace should pay particular attention to the problems of women in territories under racist colonial rule and in territories under Israeli occupation. In fact, the condition of Palestinian women had been noted in the Forward-looking Strategies.
Palestinian women, despite the brutal conditions imposed on them, including the constant threat to their children, had not been deterred, in defiance of their refugee status, from becoming a real force in the revolutionary process. In the occupied territories, where the General Union of Palestinian Women was banned by the Israeli authorities, women had formed organizations, charitable societies and committees to face the harsh realities and had become an integral part of the Palestinian struggle for national liberation.
Ms. BARGHOUTI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that no matter how hard Israel tried to conceal the facts of the impact of its occupation of the Palestinians, concerned agencies of the United Nations could always reveal atrocities inflicted on the Palestinians by the occupying authorities. It could not he claimed that occupation was enhancing the situation of Palestinian women when they were subjected to torture, imprisonment, confiscation of land, collective punishment, deportation and denial of their human and legal rights. Freedom of movement was restricted and almost all Palestinian women were locked in or out of their homeland. Palestinian women under house arrest were prohibited from leaving their towns or refugee camps by day, or leaving their homes at night. Some had not been allowed to see their children for years. Millions of Palestinians had been prevented from returning to their country; some had been expelled for political activities and many had been forced out of the country in 1948 and 1967. Any improvement in the educational and health situation of Palestinian women was not attributable to the Israeli Government but to their struggle and determination to work for national liberation and social freedom.