Morrison Government missing in action at UN on International Women's Day

Morrison Government missing in action at UN on International Women's Day

The Morrison Government has failed to sign on to an International Women’s Day statement at the United Nations calling for access to safe abortions, comprehensive sexuality education and sexual reproductive health.

As recently as last week, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, said the number one guiding principle for the Government's time on the Council was "gender equality". Yet when 57 countries came together on International Women's Day to support a motion proposed by Finland and Mexico, the Morrison Government chose not to back it.

Edwina MacDonald, a Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, who is attending the session in Geneva, said it was extremely disappointing to see the Australian Government once again fail to live up to its promises at the UN.

“Being able to make choices about our own bodies and access reproductive health are absolutely essential to achieving gender equality. No government can truly support gender equality and human rights without supporting access to safe abortions and reproductive rights," said Ms MacDonald.

In Australia, abortion is still in the criminal statute books in New South WalesSouth Australia and Western Australia. This is a recognised form of sex discrimination in international human rights law. The criminalisation of abortion harms women by making it harder to access safe and compassionate reproductive healthcare.

"The Morrison Government holds a really important role on the Human Rights Council, it should be using its voice at the UN to stand up for the rights of women all around the world. Instead we get hollow words here in Geneva and a failure to lift its game back home. It's so disappointing," said Ms MacDonald.

Australia was elected for a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Council in October 2017. 

For further information, please contact:
Edwina MacDonald (in Geneva) on +41 779 531 557 or
Tom Clarke (in Melbourne) on 0422 545 763

Photo credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré