The UN Commission on the Status of Women - a body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women – has been the subject of massive criticism for its recent decision to elect Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for its rampant violation of women’s rights, as its member. Press TV has talked to Catherine Shakdam, director of Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, as well as Lawrence J. Korb, former US assistant secretary of defense, to get their opinions on this issue.
Catherine Shakdam believes that the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN women’s rights commission is not only an “insult” to women across the world, but also to humanity.
She also said given the fact that Saudi Arabia has been promoting the “objectification of women in the most despicable manner,” the idea of having it decide or even debate women-related issues is “completely ludicrous.”
The analyst also emphasized that the very ideology of Wahhabism “profoundly rejects" women and their rights.
Shakdam further stated that electing Saudi Arabia to any council discussing human rights or women-related issues is “criminal” and “dangerous,” adding that it should be banned and criticized to the highest degree.
“The United Nations is no longer an institution that people can back and recognize as being legitimate,” she said, claiming that the world body is being “bought” and “owned” by Saudi Arabia.
The analyst further expressed hope that the United Nations would wake up and decide not to be owned by Riyadh and to remember the oath it took when it was created which is to protect the innocent, and to stand for international law and human rights.
Meanwhile, Lawrence J. Korb, the other panelist on the program, said that electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights does not make a great deal of sense, adding that it is going to “hurt the credibility of the UN.”
However, according to Korb, countries which voted for Saudi Arabia to be elected to the UN Women’s Rights Commission were possibly hoping that “once the Saudis got on there, they would begin to move in the right direction”.
The analyst also agreed that the Saudis’ attitude towards women is not something to be very proud of, but predicted that given the higher percentage of educated women in Saudi Arabia today, it is going to be very hard for Riyadh to continue its current practices.
Korb further expressed hope that getting on the UN council would help the Saudis realize what a “foolish” and “counterproductive” policy they are embracing with regard to women.