Minister Says Challenges Remain in Achieving Gender Equality

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Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi on Tuesday defended the government’s policies on promoting gender equality and preventing discrimination against women, but conceded that challenges remain in achieving principles set out in the U.N.’s convention to stop discrimination against women. Speaking in Geneva to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Ms. Kantha Phavi presented details on what the government has done over the past 10 years in order to make pro­gress on the targets expressed within the convention. “The Rectangular Strategy reiterates that women are the backbone of the country,” Ms. Kantha Phavi said, referring to the government’s broad-ranging policy on how to promote equality, employment and economic growth. … She [Ing Kantha Phavi] also said that the Law on Monogamy as well as provisions inside the penal and civil codes all serve to protect women’s rights. But she defended the government’s refusal to draft a law that specifically deals with discrimination, insisting that the article in the Constitution on the rights of citizens already does enough. She said that women make up 49.2 percent of the agricultural sector, 47.6 in industry and 47.5 in services, but while “gender gaps are improving, attention is needed in the service sector where wages [are still] low.”