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Women's day challenge on CEDAW.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA WEDNESDAY 8 MARCH 2006

SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA

AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS STATUS OF WOMEN SPOKESPERSON

WOMEN'S DAY CHALLENGE ON CEDAW

On International Women's Day 2006, the Australian Democrats have called on the Government to back up its purported commitment to women by signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Democrats will test the Government's commitment to CEDAW and women when the Senate returns on March 27, with a vote on a motion calling on the Government to immediately address concerns raised by the CEDAW Committee at its recent 34th session in New York.

“Australia has a long way to go before equality for women is achieved,” Democrats’ Spokesperson for the Status of Women Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

“Signing the Optional Protocol to CEDAW would be a symbolic way of backing the Government’s rhetoric of support for women in Australia. It would also set an example for other countries that have yet to sign the Optional Protocol.

“International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate what has been achieved for women’s rights around the world but also a time to assess the campaigns ahead of us.

“The CEDAW Committee’s 34th session examined the Australian Government’s fourth and fifth periodic reports, as well as the Australian NGO Shadow Report on the Implementation of CEDAW.

“While the Shadow Report acknowledged ‘clear improvements in the status of women’ during the last reporting cycle, it also found a number of outstanding challenges for women in Australia, from violence against women, to leadership and political participation, law and justice, housing and utilities, health, education, economic security, and employment,” Senator Stott Despoja said.

Other key issues for women in Australia on IWD include: • the gender pay gap; • work and family reforms, such as Government-funded paid maternity leave; more affordable and accessible childcare; the right to return to work part-time; flexible working hours; and, breastfeeding breaks; • the removal of the GST from lactation devices; • the lack of regulation of pregnancy counselling and the lack of Government funding for pro-choice

pregnancy counselling; and, • removing ministerial discretion over the export of embryos.

Media contact: Raina Hunter - 0417 085 260