Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council – 26th Session

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women and Special Rapporteur on right to education.

Australian Statement
16 June 2014

Australia welcomes the report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice, and its focus on the economic crisis. Discrimination prevents women’s economic participation to the detriment of individuals, communities and economies.

We are committed to improving women’s access to employment, including through our aid program. For example, our support for UN Women’s Safe Cities Programme in Papua New Guinea is making markets safer for conducting business.

In Australia, anti-discrimination legislation and policies uphold our commitment to equal rights for women. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 makes discrimination against women unlawful. The Fair Work Act 2009 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees on grounds including sex, pregnancy and family or carer responsibilities.

We agree with the Working Group that gender-based violence against women can severely impact and restrict women’s economic and social potential, including access to education and employment. Keeping women and their families safe is the most fundamental step towards ensuring their security and prosperity.

We agree with the Working Group that informal barriers continue to reduce economic opportunities for women. The Australian Government has funded the Australian Human Rights Commission to undertake research into the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination during pregnancy or on return to work following parental leave.

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on right to education for his report.

Through our development assistance program, Australia supports access to quality learning for all, with a special focus on gender equality and assisting the most disadvantaged, including people with a disability, find pathways out of poverty.

We note the Special Rapporteur’s comments on the importance of including measures of conformity and understanding of human rights, for students and schools, in their education assessments. We would be interested in the Special Rapporteur’s views on identifying practical opportunities for teaching human rights-related content as part of curriculums.