Mongolia Cultural influences on population`s state

Mongolia Cultural influences on population`s state

The United Nations Population Fund UNFPA presented its annual The State of World Population 2008 report, themed "Reaching Common Ground: Culture. Gender and Human Rights," on 12 November 2008. In Mongolia, on same day, a meeting was held to review the report and the state of the local population. B. Oyun, UNFPA national program officer on population and development briefed the meeting about "The State of World Population 2008" report, saying that the report endorses culturally sensitive approaches to development and to the promotion of human rights, in general, and women's rights including reproductive rights, in particular. Culture is and always has been central to development. As a natural and fundamental dimension of people's lives, culture must be integrated into development policies and programming and this report therefore shows how this process works in practice.

Attendees at the meeting stressed that considering human rights, gender inequality, poverty and reproductive rights and integrating these with culture and traditions would be an effective strategy to promote human tights and find proper solutions for such issues. Mongolia had previously gained good experience in ending harmful practices against reproductive health within the framework of the UNFPA program in Mongolia. For instance: maternal mortality had been high in Bayan-Olgii Aimag, a far western province of Mongolia, due to a local tradition requiring brides do all their housework during pregnancy and immediately after the delivery, besides, having to contend with a heavy work-load to prepare a celebration for the new-born child right after the delivery. A project to do away with such practices had therefore been implemented in Bayan-Olgii. in collaboration with religious organizations, as a way to influence to peoples" minds. This showed great results with the lowest mortality rates in last 50 years. At the report-launch meeting, Ts. Tsogzolmaa, head of the Secretarial at the National Gender Equality Committee spoke about the current gender equality situation in Mongolia, citing as example women's participation at decision-making levels.

Ms. Tsogzolmaa had observed women's participation during the recently-held Parliamentary Elections and Local Elections, wherein 3 women were elected as MPs in the June 29 Parliamentary Elections, reducing female MP's by 2 from 5 in the previous Parliament. She said, ""Although the election law confirms that 30 percent of candidates from political parties must be women, the law was amended before the Ejection, placing a barrier for women candidates." The 356 Parliamentary Election candidates included 65 women or 15.6 percent of total candidates and 15 out of 45 independent
candidates were women. Women candidates from political parties included 10 from the MPRP, 12 from the DP, 6 from the Civil Coalition, 4 from the Republican Party, 4 from the National New Party, 2 from the Motherland Party, and 6 from the Civil Will Party.

However, women candidates were more successful in the Local Elections compared to previous elections, with 36.5 percent of the total of 641 candidates for elections in aimags and districts being women. This included 60 female candidates in Ulaanbaatar city where 10 were elected in Sukhbaatar District. 9 Women candidates were elected in Zavkhan Aimag and 5 in Bayan-Olgii Aimag, the first time that so many women were elected to local legislative bodies. Ts. Tsogzolmaa notes that this success will be a foundation for Mongolian women to show more successes during the next elections provided they work hard. Ms. Tsogzolmaa also said. "According to a survey, 50-60 percent of voters responded that they considered gender when voting. This shows that we should change voters" perceptions of women and create right attitudes toward women in society. She appealed for women's organizations to cooperate to strengthen women's positions in political parties and have the provision on the quota of women re-included in the Election Law as it is difficult for women to be independent candidates.

She continued. "Active participation by women at decision-making levels will change legislation to be more friendly for women. One major concern in this year's report "human rights", raised by P. Oyunchimeg, a member of the Human Right Commission, described a human rights situation in Mongolia, giving an example of human trafficking, women in particular. She claimed that, although the first case of human trafficking had been recorded in Mongolia in 1999, these crimes appeared to be escalating in Mongolia. P. Oyunchimeg commented on the many obstacles to preventing such serious organized crimes against women, uncovering these crimes, protecting victims' reputations, and imposing legal punishment for offenders. She said the National Human Rights Commission focused on increasing law practitioners' awareness in this regard. According to her information, 6 people were serving prison sentences of 10 to 15 years on human trafficking charges. Increasing public awareness and providing information to the public will be crucial to prevent human trafficking. Meeting participants gave some suggestions, including forming real conditions to realize the Law on Family and promoting good practices in various cultures and traditions. Some claimed that sending men abroad as labour forces had also negatively influenced the population policy.

B. Ooluun

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