x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UN calls for rethink on women's rights

The head of a UN anti-sexism committee urges the Government to "revisit" laws that do not grant women the same rights and privileges as men.

NEW YORK // The head of a UN anti-sexism committee has urged the Government to "revisit" laws that do not grant women the same rights and privileges as men. The call comes in the run-up to the UAE's first assessment under the UN's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw). Naela Gabr, the chairman of the 23-member committee that monitors the treaty's implementation, urged officials to reconsider their formal objections to Cedaw before sending representatives to Switzerland for the inquiry.

Delegates from Abu Dhabi will travel to Geneva for the January 26 meeting. It is the first assessment of the country since it ratified the treaty in 2004. By accepting the convention, countries commit themselves to undertake measures to end discrimination against women in all forms Next month's day-long session is expected to focus on "reservations" made by the Government upon accession. Then, officials stated that the UAE "does not consider itself bound" by some of the convention's articles - particularly those that could contravene Sharia law.

The main points of contention centre on Emirati women having the same rights as men regarding their nationality status, passing that status on to their children, and having the right to conclude legally-binding contracts. "Other Arab countries have changed," Ms Gabr said. "I hope things can be revisited in the United Arab Emirates. "The question is to make sure that the spirit and aim and goals of the convention are de facto implemented. If this is done, I am very pleased."

jreinl@thenational.ae