IWTC WOMEN’S GLOBALNET #346
ACTIVITIES & INITIATIVES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE

NGOS USE 42ND CEDAW SESSION TO UNDERLINE BARRIERS CONFRONTING WOMEN IN THEIR COUNTRIES
10 December 2008
Helena Gronberg

 

1.  VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND OBSTACLES TO PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC LIFE ARE
DOMINANT THEMES IN NGO SNAPSHOTS SHADOW REPORTS TO CEDAW

- BURMA/MYANMAR

- CANADA

- ECUADOR

- KYRGYZSTAN

- MONGOLIA

- SLOVENIA

- URUGUAY

2.  USING CEDAW TO MONITOR IMPLEMENTATION OF SCR 1320 AND 1820

3.  43rd AND 44th SESSIONS

 

1. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND OBSTACLES TO PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC LIFE ARE DOMINANT THEMES IN NGO SNAPSHOTS SHADOW REPORTS TO CEDAW

Women’s and civil society organizations in Burma/Myanmar, Canada, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovenia and Uruguay used the CEDAW space and process to bring onto the international arena major obstacles confronting women in their respective countries through the preparation of shadow reports. The purpose of the shadow report is to provide the CEDAW Committee with information on the substantive rights outlined in the CEDAW Convention. (Guidelines for writing a shadow report can be found on the IWRAW Asia-Pacific website at http://www.iwraw-ap.org/using_cedaw/sreport_guidelines.htm.)

 

Despite the broad political spectrum of countries reporting, violence against women - in all its manifestations - was a re-occurring theme throughout all the Shadow Reports.  Obstacles thwarting women’s participation in the public and political arena were also frequently noted in the majority of reports. 

 

Because NGO shadow reports offer unique “snapshots” of women’s issues at community and country level at a particular point in time, IWTC is presenting a synopsis of shadow reports presented at the recent CEDAW session held in Geneva 20 October through 7 November 2009.  It should be noted that in some instances, more than one NGO or coalition of NGOs in a country has prepared a Shadow report.  Information as to where to access the full shadow report is indicated at the end of each country synopsis.

- Burma/Myanmar
The Women’s League of Burma expressed concern that no evidence can be found in the Burmese military regime’s report that it understands either the definition of gender discrimination or the purpose of CEDAW. Further, none of the country’s laws have been revised to address direct and indirect discrimination nor have the principles of CEDAW been incorporated into domestic legislation. Customary laws, emphasizing women’s roles as child-bearers and homemakers while giving men greater economic and decision-making power in domestic affairs, are still utilized in marriage, adoption, property ownership and inheritance cases. According to the group, the regime publicly supports traditional values and women’s inferior position in society, describing women’s abilities as limited. In the conflict zones of eastern Burma, health services are so limited that almost a quarter of children will die before the age five and one in twelve women will lose her life as a result of pregnancy-related causes. The systematic violation of human rights, including gender-based violence, by the regime in the rural ethnic areas, have driven many people to become internally displaced, or to flee as refugees and undocumented migrant workers to neighboring countries. Further, because of the regime’s failure to acknowledge discrimination and violence against women, there is a climate of impunity for military rape. There is mounting evidence of military rape against women and girls. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/
BURMA_SR_WLB.pdf

- Canada
Canadian women’s organization’s submitted three shadow reports. A report from women in British Columbia concluded that “women in British Columbia are marginalized and politically disempowered, that women in the province face increasing social and economic deprivation, and that issues of women’s equality are erased from the political agenda.” The report asked the committee to hold the Government of British Columbia accountable for each of the specific breaches of the convention and for its failure to implement programs and policies that “have the goals of changing cultural attitudes and social patterns that foster, minimize or ignore women’s inequality in British Columbia.” For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Canada_SR_BC_CEDAW_Group.pdf

The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) in its report concluded that “Canada is in violation of the rights set out in the CEDAW convention.” For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/
Canada_SR_FAFIA.pdf

An additional report highlighting effect-based discrimination and torture by non-state actors in the private sphere was submitted by Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, members of NGO Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW). For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Canada_SR_Voice_of_Women_for_Peace.pdf.

- Ecuador
The shadow report by the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM) highlighted increasing inequity and spirals of violence, which have lead to increasing violations against women. The report raised concerns regarding women who have no constitutional guarantees to personal freedom or lives free of violence; domestic violence; the situation of foreign refugee women and of migrant women workers; the right to fair participation of women in politics, socio-cultural stereotypes; state weakness to combat crimes of human trafficking and sexual exploitation; persistent discrimination against women in the exercise of their rights to education, employment and health; and restrictions in the use of emergency contraception. For full report and recommendations see http://www.iwrawap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Ecuador_SR_CLADEM_
combined_Eng_Spa.pdf

Alternative shadow reports were also prepared by Corporacion Humanas http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Ecuador_SR_Humanas.pdf

 

Organizacion Ecuatoriana de Mujeres Lesbianas - OEML (Spanish) http://www.iwrawap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Ecuador_SR%20_
OEML_Spanish.pdf

- Kyrgyzstan
The shadow report prepared by the Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan highlighted the issues of domestic violence and political participation. In 2003 Kyrgyzstan adopted the Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence of the Kyrgyz Republic to address the problem of domestic violence. Law enforcement and government officials have however failed to integrate the law into their work. There are no statistics on domestic violence but Kyrgyz NGOs, as well as a 2006 Human Rights Watch Study State Failure to Stop Domestic Abuse and Abduction of Women in Kyrgyzstan report that domestic violence in the country is increasing. Forum of Women’s NGOs recent study Monitoring of Violence against Women in all regions of Kyrgyzstan for the period of September 2006 – May 2007 shows lack of enforcement of the Domestic Violence Law.

The report further highlighted the lack women’s political advancement. Lack of women in decision-making bodies, according to the report, indicates serious problems in the State’s attitude towards gender equality in political processes. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Kyrgyzstan_SR_%20Forum.pdf

The shadow report submitted by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Organisation, Labry, focused on the issue of forced marriages, and violence and prejudice among social institutions, such as media, civil society and state. The report had a specific focus on the rights of transgender people who need special attention due to high level of violence and discrimination against them. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Kyrgyzstan_SR_Labrys.pdf

The report by Tais Plus brought attention to the rights of sex workers. For full report see
 http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Kyrgyzstan_SR_TaisPlus.pdf

- Mongolia
The Mongolian shadow report prepared by representatives of the Coalition of Mongolian LGBT Rights Activists called for new laws and legislations that would ensure human rights and dignity for sexuality minorities. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Mongolia_SR_Coalition_of_
Mongolian_LGBT_Rights_Activists.pdf

The parallel shadow report submitted by the Mongolian Gender Equality Center highlighted two predominant forms of trafficking of women in Mongolia; sexual exploitation, which includes forced prostitution; and servile marriages to foreign nationals. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Mongolia_SR_MGEC.pdf

- Portugal
The Portuguese shadow report, prepared by the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights, emphasized the lack of visibility of CEDAW despite its status as national law of 30 years, and urged the government to reinforce partnerships with Women’s Rights NGOs in order to strengthen the implementation of the convention. The report stated that although there are no discriminatory laws in place there is a gap between equality as defined by law and equality in reality. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/ShadowReport_42CEDAW_Session_
PORTUGAL_PPDM_final.pdf

- Slovenia
This shadow report prepared by NGOs and independent experts focused on political representation of women, violence against women and violence in the family, elimination of prejudices and stereotypes, implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, women’s reproductive health and rights, and other areas of economic and social life. The report concluded that economic and social status of women in

Slovenia is deteriorating. The lack of women’s representation in decision making bodies with executive power is especially discouraging. For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Slovenia_SR_combined.pdf.

- Uruguay
In its shadow report CLADEM Uruguay, Mizangas and RUDA emphasized the need for protection measures for victims of domestic violence and urged the government to modify existing discriminatory legislation regarding prostitution and trafficking. The report demanded the State equal the number of women with that of men in decision-making positions in executive positions and promote the participation of afro-descendant women in the political activity and the access to decision-making positions.

For full report see http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/pdf/42_shadow_reports/Uruguay_SR_CLADEM_combined_
English_Spanish_with_annex.pdf.

 

2. USING CEDAW TO MONITOR IMPLEMENTATION OF SCR 1320 AND 1820

Increasingly, women are using CEDAW to strengthen other international mechanisms.  Of particular interest for groups working on peace and security issues, is the use of CEDAW to monitor action and accountability on Security Council Resolution SCR 1325 and SCR 1820. In addition to reference to SCR 1325 in the NGO Shadow Report of Slovenia, in the concluding remarks recently released of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women regarding the 12 countries that reported at the 42nd CEDAW session (Oct 20 to Nov 7, 2008) the committee referenced UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 as well as SCR 1820 in its commentary on Myanmar. It requested that the Myanmar government take account of both resolutions and encouraged it to “put in place an action plan for the full implementation of these resolutions. It further recommended that the government include information on steps taken to eliminate sexual violence in Myanmar, including the results achieved, in the next periodic report.  For references to SCR 1325 made in the concluding remarks of the Committee in previous sessions, please https://www.iwtc.org/cedaw.doc

 

The full text of the concluding observations for the reporting countries, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar, Portugal, Slovenia and Uruguay,  are now available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws42.htm

3. 43rd AND 44th SESSIONS

The 43rd CEDAW session will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from January 19 to  February 6, 2009. Reporting countries include Armenia, Cameroon, Dominica, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Libya Jamahiriya and Rwanda. NGOs are encouraged to submit shadow reports. The 44th CEDAW session will take place in New York from July 20 to August 7 with the following countries scheduled to report: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Guinea Bissau, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Japan, Liberia, Spain, Switzerland, Timor Leste, and Tuvalu. Please be advised that countries reporting are subject to change.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IWTC Women's GlobalNet is a production of:
International Women's Tribune Centre
777 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017, USA
Tel:  (1-212) 687-8633; Fax: (1-212) 661-2704
Email: iwtc@iwtc.org
Web: https://www.iwtc.org

PLEASE NOTE:
For back issues of IWTC Women's GlobalNet, go to our WEBSITE AT <iwtc.org> and click on GlobalNet. To subscribe, please send your e-mail address and the name of the country where you work to joey@iwtc.org

WOMEN, INK.
For publications on women and development by, for and about women worldwide, write for Women, Ink's   catalogue, or view it at http://www.womenink.org Contact Women, Ink. at 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA.  Tel: 1.212.687.8633 ext. 204. Fax: 1. 212.661-2704. E-mail: wink@iwtc.org. To subscribe to the Women, Ink. monthly bulletin "BookLink", which features new titles constantly being added to the Women, Ink. collection, write to: wink@iwtc.org

WOMEN, INK. IS A SERVICE OF IWTC