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Human progress can't come with submission of women:UNHRC chief

Press Trust of India  |  Geneva 

Human progress comes from self- expression, free exchanges of ideas and clang of argument, not from societies that impose submission on women, said the United Nations' human rights chief.

"In cultures that value obedience above all, women are usually required to be the most obedient of all. But human progress, innovation and development do not come from societies that impose submission.

"They spring from self-expression, free exchanges of ideas, the flash of criticism and the clang of argument," said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at a panel discussion on 'realising the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl' at the 29th session of the UNHRC.

"Stubborn stereotypes such as the notion that women's sexuality needs to be controlled by others, or that women are more caring than men, have profound impact on girls' health, self-confidence, subjection to violence, and every other aspect of their human rights," Hussein said.

"One-third of girls in developing countries are married before they are 18, and millions give birth while they are still in their teens; most of these young women are prevented from continuing their education," he added.

A recent paper by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on attacks against girls seeking to access education, between 2009 and 2014, shows that thousands of such attacks took place on schools in at least 70 countries-many aimed at girls and teachers for advocating girls' education.

The UN rights chief said access to education that sharpens critical skills and builds competence is a right in itself but also a multiplier right.

Speaking at the panel discussion, Ajit Kumar, Permanent Representative of India to the UN Office at Geneva, said the Indian government has launched 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana' (Save Girl Child, Educate Girl Child) that adopts a "multi-sectoral approach to education for girls.

Barbara Bailey, Chair, CEDAW Working Group on the Rights of Girls and Women to Education said "education is not very transformative as it is offered now" - there is a need for re-socialisation of both the sexes.

There are deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes that "women take primary responsibility for caring for the family (unpaid work) whereas men tend to be associated with paid work outside of the home," Bailey said.

First Published: Tue, June 16 2015. 22:42 IST