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From male-monopoly of top leadership to ethnic discrimination in Tibet, UN Committee criticizes China’s women’s rights record

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(TibetanReview.net, Jun02’23) – The committee which monitors the UN member-countries’ adherence to the world body’s treaty on the rights of women has raised a number of concerns on China after examining its record on the issue in a report May 30. They ranged from the absence of women among China’s top leadership to discrimination against women in Tibet. The report was published alongside findings on Germany, Iceland, Sao Tome and Principe, Slovakia, Spain, Timor-Leste and Venezuela as well.

Making a series of recommendations on China with the aim to improve the situation, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has called on China to adopt statutory quotas and a gender parity system to quicken equal representation of women in government.

Noting that women only represented 26.54% of deputies to the 14th National People’s Congress, the committee has urged China to increase the number of women in all government bureaus including the judiciary and foreign service, particularly at decision making levels.

In particular, it has noted: “Since October 2022, there have been no women among the 24 members of the politburo of the Communist party of China for the first time in 20 years, and no women among the seven members of the standing committee of the politburo.”

The committee was also concerned about the excessive restrictions on the registration of non-governmental organisations as well as reports of intimidation and harassment against women human rights defenders.

Feminist voices have also been muzzled and in recent years, the government has increasingly emphasized the value of traditional roles for women as mothers and carers, noted Reuters May 31.

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On Tibet, the committee, which examines the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), has raised a series of concerns over issues affecting the life of Tibetan women, including barriers to access to Justice; closure of Tibetan-medium schools; forced residential Chinese school enrolment for them; denial of access to education in Tibetan language; confiscation of passports; forced labour & forced marriages; undermining linguistic and cultural identity of Tibetan women.

The committee has spoken of being concerned over China’s labour transfer and the so-called vocational training programmes under which Tibetan women are forced to train in low-skill jobs by discarding their unique skills and urged its immediate stoppage.

Further, the committee has urged China to respect, preserve and promote the cultural identity of Tibetan women and eliminate “intersecting” forms of discrimination against women belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, including Tibetan women.

The committee has called on China to abolish its residential school system imposed on Tibetan girls and instead give them access to instructions in Tibetan language by allowing establishment of and subsidizing private Tibetan schools.

Raising concern over reports of the confiscation of passports from Tibetans, the committee has urged China to ensure passports are not confiscated on the basis of ethnic minority status and that national security legislation is not arbitrarily used in confiscating passports.

In terms of access to justice and gender bias on the part of many judges, the UN committee has referred to economic and linguistic barriers faced by disadvantaged groups of women, including Tibetan women, in accessing justice.

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