August 7, 2006

Tibet Raising Women's Voice at the International Level

As Dr. B. Tsering was on her way to New York to represent Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), at the UN Conference on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), due to start from Monday 7 August; phayul interviewed her on the subject and other wide ranging issues related to Tibetan women both inside Tibet and in exile As Dr. B. Tsering was on her way to New York to represent Tibetan Womens Association (TWA), at the UN Conference on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), due to start from today; phayul.com's Correspondent, Phurbu Thinley interviewed her on 1st August on the subject and other wide ranging issues related to Tibetan women both inside Tibet and in exile.

Mrs. B. Tsering is presently serving her second consecutive term since she was first elected in 2002 as the President of TWA, headquartered in Dharamsala, India. Formerly a teacher of Tibetan Children's Village for 20 years, Mrs. B. Tsering has a Doctorate's degree from the University of Virginia, US. Today, with over 13,000 members and 47 branches worldwide, TWA is one of the most prominent Tibetan non-governmental organizations committed to the Tibetan struggle for freedom and the only Tibetan organization dedicated to the issues of Tibetan women in exile.

Can you please outline the details of the forthcoming Conference on CEDAW and TWA's program during the conference?
UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and is often described as an international bill of rights for women. It is one of the series of conventions on weak and vulnerable groups concluded under the auspices of United Nations to protect the rights of women. The Convention came into force in 1981.

Consisting of a Preamble and 30 Articles, it defines what constitute discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.To date, the convention has 183 States parties and, China signed it in 1980. China is presenting its periodic report on the 10th of August to the CEDAW. The 36th Session of CEDAW will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 7th to 25th of August.

How did the opportunity to participate in the Conference come about for TWA and what is the scope of your participation in the said conference?

TWA knew the fact that China will be presenting its 5th and 6th periodic report to the CEDAW this year at the 36th Session. Accordingly TWA updated its Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan women in Tibet and had submitted to the CEDAW members well in advance so that they will have a chance to look at it before they actually come to the conference. TWA made contacts with the International Womens Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific and through them we submitted our report.

I have been told that TWA is going to submit a comprehensive report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. What are the main concerns raised in the report?
The Alternative Report of TWAs main concerns are Discrimination against Tibetan Women in general Human Rights, in Education, in Health, and Employment in Tibet. Under the above headings, we have sub-headings that cover issues such as rise in prostitution, religious persecution and lack of reproductive rights.

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