Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Vice-president Kamala Harris to make UN debut at women’s rights conference

The US has often pushed against the promotion of women’s sexual and reproductive rights because it sees that as code for abortion rights, an inflammatory subject in America.

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Kamala Harris is due to make her United Nations debut as US vice-president next week when she addresses the annual UN meeting on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Harris will speak at the virtual 65th Commission on the Status of Women, on March 16, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday.

The priority theme of this year’s meeting is: Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

Harris and other Washington representatives will join the UN “Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls”.

“We all believe and understand that when women do better, countries do better,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “It is time we translate our noble commitments into concrete action.”

She said the US would take a leading role to combat sexual and gender-based violence around the world and to push for more women to be included in peace talks globally.

Under former president Donald Trump’s administration, the US led a push at the UN against the promotion of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health because it saw that as code for abortion rights, an inflammatory subject in America. The US has often opposed such language in UN resolutions.

In May, the Trump administration accused the UN of using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to promote access to abortion through its humanitarian response to the pandemic. The UN rejected the accusation.

The Trump administration also cut funding in 2017 for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) because it said it “supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation”. The United Nations said that was an inaccurate perception.

Current US President Joe Biden intends to restore UNFPA funding.

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