UN Committee stands with women and girls in global anti-racism protests

GENEVA (10 July 2020) The UN women’s rights committee has called for a new era of human rights and gender justice, stressing that the lives of black women and girls also matter.

In a statement issued today, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said it stood in solidarity with the millions of women and girls who joined the protests after the killing of George Floyd, insisting that their voices calling for an end of racism be heard. 

The violence inflicted on George Floyd by four police officers in the United States in May has generated anti-racist protests and solidarity movements throughout the world.

“At the most vulnerable moment, Mr. Floyd called for his mother, as have other victims before him, reminding us of the great loss, pain and economic dislocation that women experience in losing their children, spouses and partners, siblings and other family members in this unrelenting cycle of racist violence,” the Committee said.

While the majority of killings have been of African American men, African American women, including Yvonne Smallwood, Aiyana Jones, Sandra Bland, and Breonna Taylor, have also been victims of police brutality. Taylor was a 25-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot in her bed when police raided the wrong house in March 2020.

The Committee affirms that women and girls are also victims of racism and are directly and indirectly affected by racial injustice and discrimination. While African descendants are especially affected, the Committee is also concerned about systemic racism and discrimination against indigenous/aboriginal and Roma women and girls throughout the world.

“The Committee recognizes this legacy (of racism) and the imperative to add our voices to those calling for justice and human rights for all,” CEDAW said in its statement.

In this International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015–2024, declared by the United Nations, the Committee said it stood in solidarity with the family, friends and community of all victims of systemic racism and racist violence globally, and all who have risen in justifiable indignation.

The full statement is available online.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which to date has 189 States parties. The Committee is made up of 23 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

Learn more with our videos on the Treaty Body system and on the Human Rights Committee.

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