Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

UN Agency to Defend Women’s Rights

As reported by the Toronto Star’s Olivia Ward, the United Nations (UN) special envoy for HIV/AIDS, Stephen Lewis, is determined to create a UN agency that specializes in defending women’s rights, health and security. “I am completely consumed by this,” Lewis says. Ward reports that Lewis plans to take the proposal to Geneva next week, where a UN high-level panel is “studying ways to make the world body’s development, humanitarian assistance and environment sectors more coherent.”

Lewis says his “experience with AIDS accentuated the need for an agency completely devoted to women.” He continues: “In the midst of this carnage of women—who are losing their lives in such heartbreaking numbers—there has to be something in the world that has a voice for them, and an operational force on the ground that can resound.”

According to Ward’s article, if the plan passes, “the new women’s agency would be on the agenda for 191 member countries when the UN General Assembly opens in September.” According to the reports, the women’s agency would cost about $1 billion a year and will employ several thousand staff. Lewis has already approached leaders of many European, Latin American and African countries to support the proposal.

Graca Machel, a prominent children’s advocate and wife of Nelson Mandela, also supports the proposal. Ward reports that Machel “traveled to Britain to convince finance minister Gordon Brown to join the campaign.”

Continuing to get the program off the ground, however, is not going to be easy. Ward reports that “many of the world’s countries are dominated by conservative men who oppose women’s autonomy, although they pay lip service to women’s rights.”

To read this article in full click here.


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