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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 666 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

poverty. Approximately 1.2 million working households are currently suffering financial stress.

The contribution made to this debate by the Labor state and territory governments is a step forward. The minister, Mr Corbell, the government and the Australian Labor Party are making sure wage justice is secured for deserving and hardworking families in the ACT.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Discrimination against women

MS DUNDAS (4.39): I move:

That the Assembly:

(1) believes that every woman should be free from discrimination on the basis of gender;

(2) endorses the role of international conventions in protecting human rights, including the right to be free from discrimination; and

(3) directs the Chief Minister and Minister for Women to write to the Prime Minister and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women calling for Australia's ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as soon as is practicable.

This motion expresses and gives substance to the principle that no woman should have to experience discrimination on the basis of her gender, a principle that I hope and trust is fully accepted by this Assembly.

Members are probably aware that this Friday is International Women's Day, a day devoted to celebrating the achievement of important gains for women but also a day to express our anger and frustration at the discrimination and misogyny that still exist. In the spirit of International Women's Day, this motion is an opportunity for the Assembly to show that it is serious about women's human rights.

This motion simply calls on the ACT government to write to the Prime Minister and to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, who is a female, calling on the Australian government to ratify the optional protocol to the Convention on Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination against Women. While this might sound complicated, it is quite simple. The optional protocol is a mechanism which enables women to access justice in the international arena when they cannot achieve it domestically.

By ratifying the optional protocol, a state recognises the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which is the body that monitors state parties' compliance with the convention and receives and considers complaints from individuals or groups within its jurisdiction. The optional protocol also establishes an inquiry procedure under which the committee is able to investigate serious and systemic abuses of women's human rights.

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