Australia refuses to sign UN International Women's Day statement

Australia has refused to sign on to a UN International Women’s day statement that called for stricter enforcement of “policies and legislation that respect women and girls' right to bodily autonomy”. The statement also proposes improved access to abortion for women, a point of conflict for the Morrison government.

Other aspects of the statement included a guaranteed protection of sexual and reproductive health for women and improved sex education. Fifty seven countries signed on, led by Finland and Mexico.

Australia has long boasted it’s support for human rights, particularly the rights of it’s female citizens. When asked by SBS for statement, a DFAT spokesperson said that “Australia consistently advances gender equality across a numbers of areas”.

HRLC Legal Director Edwina MacDonald highlighted her disappointment, stating that “No government can truly support gender equality and human rights without supporting access to safe abortions and reproductive rights...The Morrison Government holds a really important role on the Human Rights Council, it should be using its voice at the UN to stand up for the rights of women all around the world”.

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Sonja Duncan