GENEVA, Switzerland (Kurdistan24) – The United Nations’ Economic and Social Council elected Saudi Arabia to the Commission on the Status of Women amid outrage from a human rights group.
In a vote late last week, Saudi Arabia was given a seat on the UN women’s rights commission for a four-year term beginning in 2018.
In a statement following the decision, director of the Geneva-based UN Watch Hillel Neuer expressed his concerns regarding the result.
“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” Neuer said.
The director added the vote was “absurd” considering Saudi Arabia’s reputation for violating women’s rights.
“Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a women’s life from her birth until death,” Neuer continued.
The country has a controversial state policy which segregates men and women who are not related.
Additionally, it is also the only state which does not allow women to drive or carry a driving license.
According to the UN, Saudi Arabia is now one of 45 countries on a panel “promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
Meanwhile, the former administrator of the UN Development Programme Helen Clark supported the decision.
“It’s important to support those in the country who are working for change for women,” Clark said.
“Things are changing, but slowly,” she added.
The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 141 out of 145 countries for gender equality.
The Gulf country was elected onto the panel by at least five European Union states.
Editing by G. H. Renaud