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UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Australian Statement for the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in

 law and in practice and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

21 June 2012


The Australian Government welcomes the first report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. We reaffirm our support for the efforts of the Working Group in seeking to promote, through dialogue with States, good practices that strengthen States efforts to achieve equality and to promote and protect women’s human rights.

Australia remains committed to advancing and promoting gender equality at home and abroad, and promoting and protecting the human rights of women. Continued support for UN Women is essential to achieve this.

Australian society has long valued equality of opportunity, mutual respect, tolerance and fairness. All members of the community must be free from discrimination or harassment on grounds including their race, sex, disability and age. Australia recognises that intersecting forms of discrimination can have a compounding effect. The Australian Government is therefore committed to putting in place a range of legislative, policy and program measures to protect and promote equality and non-discrimination in Australia.

Last year the Australian Government strengthened protections against sex discrimination by increasing protection from discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities, providing greater protection from sexual harassment for students and workers, and including protection from discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding. The Government is also considering existing protections against sex discrimination in the context of work already underway to consolidate federal anti-discrimination law.

Eliminating gender based discrimination in the work-place is essential to ensuring women’s workforce participation. In March this year, the Government introduced legislation to strengthen equal opportunities for women in the workplace. As part of these efforts, relevant non-public sector employers would report annually against gender equality indicators, driving improved outcomes for women including in relation to equal remuneration and flexible working arrangements.

We welcome the Working Group’s efforts to promote the elimination of discrimination against women and its recognition of violence against women as an abuse of women’s human rights. We look forward to continuing to engage constructively with the Working Group.