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WORKING GROUP II

IV. GENDER EQUITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN

A. Empowerment and Status of Women: Canada and Japan asked to revise the title by substituting equality for equity. Bolivia and Honduras disagreed and said that equity implies a sense of fairness with regard to the same rights for men and women. The Chair agreed to bracket the term for further discussion. In 4.4.c (barriers against women's rights), Iran asked for the deletion of cultural barriers. Sierra Leone, Malawi and Zimbabwe called for its retention and added religious barriers as well. The Holy See disagreed with religious barriers. Cuba included political barriers. A tentative conclusion was reached to state "all forms of discrimination" without specification. The Holy See, Guatemala, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Honduras asked to bracket "sexual and reproductive health", since no consensus had been reached on its definition. The Chair reminded delegates of the WHO's definition. Botswana, the EU and Jamaica asked for its retention, since it connotes a broad range of issues. In 4.3.f (elimination of gender discrimination), Indonesia said that some forms of gender discrimination are justifiable. Most countries disagreed. In 4.5 (laws against discrimination and harassment), it was agreed that where such laws do not exist they should be ratified. In 4.5.a (on women's property rights), Malaysia, supported by most Muslim delegations, objected to the equal inheritance for women, since it opposes the Sharia. After informal deliberation with the Vice-Chair, Muslim countries agreed that women could "receive" property on an equal basis with men. In 4.7 (elimination of different forms of exploitation), Kenya and Peru objected to the inclusion of forced prostitution. Norway was concerned that deletion of the word "forced" would imply total prohibition of prostitution. It was agreed to keep "forced" and reword the rest of the sentence. In 4.8 (gender division of labor), countries agreed to use "household work" instead of "household chores," as the word implies drudgery and discourages male participation.

B. The Girl Child: In 4.19 (prohibition of female genital mutilation), China and the Holy See asked to include the practice of prenatal sex selection. The Philippines emphasized the role of religious leaders. Based on Pakistan's suggestion, it was agreed that governments are the only legal body who can prohibit such practices. In 4.15bis (measures to keep girls in school), Bolivia and Brazil asked for special programs to educate pregnant adolescents. The US agreed but objected to educational segregation of pregnant adolescents.

C. Male Responsibilities and Participation: In 4.22 (objective), Finland, Australia, and Bangladesh emphasized male "sexual and reproductive behavior" instead of "fertility." In 4.24 (men's shared responsibilities), Nicaragua objected to the prevention of "unwanted pregnancies," since it implies that abortion could be relied on as a solution. Sweden and Finland asked to keep the text and pointed out that abortion implies termination and not prevention. In 4.25 (government role in ensuring protection for women), the US and Canada highlighted battered women. Bangladesh called for protection for "families" instead of "the family unit," which implies the concept of the nuclear family.

V. THE FAMILY, ITS ROLES, RIGHTS, COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE

A. Diversity of Family Structure and Composition: In 5.2 (objective), the Holy See and Malta objected to the plurality of family. Finland and Switzerland emphasized the importance of the concept of plurality and called for protective laws. Honduras and Hungary requested brackets around the term. India and Australia stated that the costs of child-rearing are increasing for couples as well as for women. In 5.3 (governments' and employers' responsibilities toward families), Senegal, Malaysia, Burkina Faso and the US included maternal and health services. Reproductive health was bracketed as part of services provided by governments and employers. In 5.4 (efforts to increase women's economic earnings), Indonesia, Finland, the Holy See and the US agreed that efforts should ensure that poor women are able to earn "at least" minimum wage. In 5.5 (elimination of discrimination against families), it was agreed that disabled families should have the same "family and reproductive rights" as others, and that these rights should not be limited to marriage and childbearing as is suggested by the text.

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