HC Deb 11 December 1972 vol 848 cc23-4
28. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the United Kingdom abstained from voting on the resolution of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly which concerned the status of women.

Mr. Amery

We abstained on the proposal to designate 1975 as International Women's Year because we had doubts both about its timing and about the desirability of singling out women for this kind of special attention. All the same, in view of our general sympathy with the objectives of the year we shall vote for the proposal in plenary session.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the Government's attitude on the matter has been reactionary and timid, in sharp contrast to that of most countries at the United Nations, which were progressive and brave on the matter? His statement today has shown how totally illogical and uncertain the Government's mind is on the question. If they support the declaration on discrimination against women passed at the General Assembly in 1967, how can they fail to support the resolution, which deals with the same matter?

Mr. Amery

On the general question, it has been our view that if discrimination against women is to be eliminated we must stop singling out women for special treatment. To turn to the particular, we doubt whether international years are an effective method of promoting human rights. The choice of 1975 is a little unwise, because the Status of Women Commission will not complete its examination of the implementation of the declaration on discrimination against women until 1976.

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