Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session

Interactive dialogue with the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice

Statement by Australia, 3 June 2013

Australia welcomes the report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. And we endorse the Working Group’s focus on the participation of women in political and public life.

We reaffirm our support for the efforts of the Working Group in seeking to promote, through dialogue with States, good practices that strengthen efforts to achieve equality and to respect, protect and fulfil women’s human rights. We agree that achieving improved social and economic participation is critical to securing women’s financial wellbeing, protecting women and their families against poverty, and breaking down entrenched prejudice and attitudes that prevent women and girls from participation in public and political life.

Supporting women’s economic participation is especially critical in order to ensure that women and girls have equal opportunity for full and meaningful engagement in work, in the community and the economy more broadly.

To this end, we have implemented legislation in Australia which ensures protection for women in the workplace, including strengthened protections against discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities for both women and men. We are also delivering paid parental leave and dad and partner pay schemes and investing in the development of new flexible child care services that better meet the needs of modern families.

Reflecting our support for women’s active and equal participation, we have also introduced a range of measures to promote women’s leadership in public sector bodies, including a commitment to achieving a minimum of 40 per cent women and 40 per cent men on Australian Government boards by 2015.

We are also working to address women’s participation internationally to support, including through our aid program, gender equality and the empowerment of women. A key part of this is support to empower women economically, improve their livelihood security, and promote women’s participation in decision-making and leadership. Our 10-year $320 million initiative to help improve the political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific women –Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development – is a case in point.

We agree with the Working Group’s observation on the importance of National Human Rights Institutions in the promotion of women’s participation and protection against discrimination. We would welcome the Working Group providing any examples it has of best practice in this space.