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The Mauritian delegation1 was headed by Honourable Indira Seebun, Minister of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare

and Consumer Protection (MWCDFW), and included an ambassador, other members of the Mauritian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Government officials. On 11 August 2006, Mauritius submitted its combined 3rd, 4th and 5th periodic reports2 under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention) along with written responses3 to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women's (the Committee) list of issues and questions.4 The combined report, covering the period from 1993 to 2003, was prepared by the MWCDFW in consultations with other ministries, labour unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It provides general information on the current situation in Mauritius and outlines progress achieved on each article of the Convention. The economic situation in Mauritius has been dire, mainly due to the negative impact of globalisation and trade liberalisation. The sugar and textile sectors, employing large numbers of women, have been hit the hardest. The State Party therefore launched several initiatives to help women fight poverty and find employment. Governmental agencies like the MWCDFW and the National Women Council assisted in promoting women's rights, notably through education campaigns informing the population about the Convention. To combat violence against women, the State Party passed the Sex Discrimination Act (2002), which deals with abuses and violations of women's rights and provides for police and government officials training. Speech By Hon. Mrs Arianne Navarre-Marie Minister Of Women's Rights, Child Development & Family Welfare at the Launching of Women's Empowerment Year thurs 01 jul 2004 Women's emancipation does not end with the declaration of independence or having a Ministry 'that works for the enhancement of women's status; but it is a process of moving away from being dependent and subordinate to a position of being able to think, work and evolve as a human being what characterized this evolution of women in Mauritius? Ladies and Gentlemen, African countries

have been called upon to report in November next at Addis Ababa on achievements made on the Beijing Platform for Action and there is not doubt that Mauritius has attained substantial progress in the enhancement of women's status. Government's investment in health, education, women's development and poverty reduction has been instrumental in the realization of impressive achievements. Allow me now to mention the 4 areas of concern out of the 12 priority concerns retained at Beijing, to which Mauritius committed itself. These are: (i) The Integration of gender issues into the mainstream of Government and private sector policies (ii) The Development of a holistic approach to the health and welfare of women with special attention to the girl child, women at work both at home and outside home (iii) Enactment of a Domestic Violence Act coupled with Information Education & Communications Campaigns. (iv) Formulation of policies to encourage girls to take up technical and non-traditional subjects so that they engage in professions, which were hitherto ly, the inclusion of gender equality and women's empowerment as the third Millennium Development goal the launching of a Women Empowerment Year, is, therefore of central importance because we are starting a process whereby women must be empowered, elevated and respected as equals. Let me now highlight some of the laudable achievements made over the last decade, more specifically in regard to other commitments at Beijing. the Human Rights Division stipulates that men and women are equals and the Women Empowerment Year is a unique way to remind ourselves that we are indeed equals. Therefore all discrimination disparities and barriers must the condemned and removed. Hence the Ministry's decision to have as slogan " Diferan m egal" which is a way of reaffirming the Human Right Division. The bookmark designed for this launching includes the women and men symbols at par"as equals "and also highlights our priority areas of concern over the next 12 months. The Government, besides increasing its budget allocation to the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare for the implementation of the commitments taken, also took bold initiatives to expand its activities to other areas like economic empowerment of women and poverty alleviation programmes. This was to ensure that all the concerns of the Beijing Platform for Action were effectively transformed into policies and programmes and that it does not remain just a declaration of intent. Gender has emerged as a cross -cutting issue which has now been recognised fully as a key factor to strengthen a country's ability to grow, to reduce poverty and improve its standard of living in Mauritius. An institutional environment has been created which provides equal rights and opportunities for women as well as men. Government's effort to reduce gender inequalities is translated by the enactment of appropriate legislations such as the Protection from Domestic Violence Act in 1997 and the Sex Discrimination Act in 2002; the signature of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2001 as well as the review of other legislations that are discriminatory to women.

Women occupy only 6.6% of the seats in Parliament and out of 24 Ministers there is only one woman Minister. Recognizing the need to address the issue of women in poverty, the Government has set up two specialized agencies viz, the "Trust Fund for the Social Integration of Vulnerable Groups" and the "Anou Diboute Ensam" to provide women in poverty conditions with access to economic resources. Similarly, the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare, with assistance from International Fund for Agricultural Development, provides incentives and financing schemes to develop income generating enterprises to women from low income group. Mauritius committed itself to the formulation of policies to encourage girls to take up non traditional subjects including Science and Technology; as well as choosing careers which have been hitherto considered as male domains. The Government through the Ministries of Women's Rights, Training, Skills Development, Productivity and External Communications are providing various training programmes for empowering women and girls at all levels. A variety of courses including dress-making, homeeconomics, handicraft, adult literacy and Information Technology are offered in the 12 women centers. The number of women currently attending the Adult Literacy Programmes run by the National Women's Council is 680 as compared to 523 in 2003. A total number of about 5000 women received training between the period 1986-2003. Much efforts are being put in to ensure that women around the country become familiar to IT-Under the IFAD Rural Diversification Programme, the Ministry has conducted a Training of Trainers Program for unemployed youth from 24 deprived Village Council Areas, and the trainers have been called upon to conduct Adult Literacy programs in their respective regions. - "Ecole Complementaire" and "Accompagnement Scolaire" set up to provide school drop outs with basic literacy and skills in vocational fields. With the Women Empowerment Year has also emerged the setting up of a "Women's Forum" comprising of women from top level management who have paved their way to the 21st century as role models in various instances. COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN 36TH SESSION (NEW YORK, 7 TO 25 AUGUST 2006) MAURITIUS (3RD, 4TH AND 5TH COMBINED PERIODIC REPORT) Information submitted to the Committee To combat unemployment and poverty, the State Party provided vocational training and facilitated access to loans for women who want to set up their own business. The Committee recommended that the State Party strengthen its efforts to promote equal employment opportunities and reduce the wage gap between the sexes.