Thursday, 6 November 2014

Review of Australia’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women

Not only is next year the 20th anniversary of the UN’s 4th World Conference of Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995, but we have been engaged this year in the lead up to periodic review of Australia’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women.

For this reason we have been looking carefully at the Beijing Platform for Action including the section on the needs of young women – the Girl Child. A number of strategic objectives were identified in 1995 including to eradicate violence against the girl-child and to promote the girl-child's awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.

As part of the review process there has been a series of relevant speakers at NCWV meetings including
  • Erin Wicking, Girl Guides Victoria, on their new initiatives including the PLAN international  ‘Because I Am a Girl’ partnership and focussing on International Day of Girl Child October 11;
  • Christine Carolan, Project Officer, ACRATH, on forced and early marriage;
  • Lisa Wilson, River Nile Learning Centre, on off-campus re-engagement for young African women; and then
  • at the 111th AGM on  September 4, Dr Debbie Ollis, Deakin University,  delivered a thought provoking address on the experience of boys and girls in a school setting as the basis for 'Building Respectful Relationships in Schools – from research into practice'.
Taking this as a starting point, it seems timely to use the October meeting of Council – always devoted to a  UN related topic - to complete this series of talks by looking at  the earliest years of children’s lives. Next year is also the 20th Anniversary the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Australia is a signatory. See

NCWA supported calls for Australia to have a Children’s Commissioner, and applauded Commissioner Megan Mitchell’s first report released in 2013 that highlighted key themes for work with young children, subsequently adopted by the peak body Early Childhood Australia: the right to be heard; freedom from violence, abuse and neglect; the opportunity to thrive; engagement round  civics and citizenship; action and accountability.

The October 2 meeting of Council is an opportunity to look at current issues that have drawn fresh attention to some of the Articles of the Convention for example;
Article 7 - Children have the right to a legally registered name and nationality. Children also have the right to know their parents and, as far as possible, to be cared for by them.
Article 8 - Governments should respect a child’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties.
Article 9 - Children should not be separated from their parents unless it is for their own good. … if a parent is mistreating or neglecting a child. Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might harm the child.
Article 20- Children who cannot be looked after by their own family must be looked after properly by people who respect their religion, culture and language.
Article 21- When children are adopted the first concern must be what is best for them. The same rules should apply whether children are adopted in the country of their birth or if they are taken to live in another country.
Article 22- Children who come into a country as refugees should have the same rights as children who are born in that country.
Article 29 - Education should develop each child’s personality and talents to the full. It should encourage children to respect their parents, their cultures and other cultures.