UN Human Rights Council Discusses Violence Against Women, Maternal Mortality and Human Rights of Women
Monday, June 23, 2008 2:37 PM

The Human Rights Council of the UN held two panel discussions on women's human rights on June 5th. The first met to discuss priorities in dealing with violence against women. The second discussed maternal morality and women's human rights.

The first panel met to continue the Council’s consideration of a study released in 2006 by the Secretary-General. The study found violence against women to be "one of the most serious challenges of our time." Members of the panel cited existing cultural norms as a root of the problem, and highlighted the need for legislation to change these norms. They also placed importance on the need for leadership and political commitment from all countries to combat violence against women, and on the need for sufficient data to properly characterize the problem. Significantly, “It was noted that a comprehensive approach towards empowerment of women remained the most effective instrument to counter violence against women.”

The second panel mainly discussed maternal mortality, or the death of a woman during childbirth. Women living in poverty or in extremely rural areas often die or become disabled in childbirth since it is difficult and sometimes impossible for them to access health care during pregnancy. The panel stressed the fact that maternal mortality and infant mortality are human rights issues, since deaths during childbirth are largely preventable. The need to educate both men and women on sexual health and access to health care was a primary concern in the discussion. The panel also called for further data, and for the accountability of the international community on the issue.  

For the full report on the panel discussions, including a complete list of the delegations present, please click here.

Compiled from: "Human Rights Council Discusses Violence Against Women, Maternal Mortality and Human Rights of Women," The United Nations Office at Geneva, 5 June 2008.