World YWCA attends the 48th session of CEDAW
The 48th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is being held from January 17 to February 4 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. Bangladesh, Belarus, Israel, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Sri Lanka and South Africa will submit their reports during this session. The World YWCA is following the meeting, specifically the country reports from Kenya, South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Belarus. The YWCA of Kenya and Belarus have each contributed to the shadow reporting process and the reports will be considered on January 19 and January 27 respectively.
Michelle Higelin Beg, Deputy General Secretary of the World YWCA, and Hendrica Okondo, Programme Director for Africa and the Middle East, represented the World YWCA at the opening session of CEDAW on January 17th 2011, and reported the following main news items and key priorities for the CEDAW Committee:
- Silvia Pimentel of Brazil was appointed the new Chair of the CEDAW Committee. She stated that in her two year mandate she will focus on boldly integrating the work of the CEDAW Committee, the Human Rights Council, and treaty body reporting with the creative and inspiring role of human rights advocates in the UN and NGOs. Calling herself a citizen of the World and acknowledging the work that feminist networks in Latin America and the Caribbean have done to promote a spirit of humanity that condemns the discrimination of women, she called for more efforts in moving the 28 CEDAW articles from a de-facto to a de-jure status that will enhance women’s access to justice and the increased participation of NGOs in monitoring implementation of CEDAW at national regional and global level.
- The opening Session called for member states to ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, which offers a complaints and communication process in case of violation of women's rights and where cases can be brought against the State.
- Priority issues on the agenda of this CEDAW Committee session include violence against women (VAW), especially in situations of conflict, and follow-up on previous recommendations on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This is important in view of the 2009 Human Rights Council Resolution on Maternal Mortality as a human rights issue, and the outcome of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) ten year review that recognised the importance of accelerating progress on MDGs related to maternal and child health as well as HIV.
The World YWCA is actively involved in the current CEDAW Sessions advocating for a stronger intergenerational perspective to ending discrimination against women, thus placing emphasis on young women and girls. The YWCA movement is closely following the issues related to VAW, SRHR and HIV, and how this relates to economic justice. The World YWCA and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) also have a formal meeting with the CEDAW Committee on 24th January which will focus on women, peace and security, including sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls in armed conflict and post conflict situations.
CEDAW is the international human rights treaty that is exclusively devoted to gender equality. It was adopted on 18 December 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.
The 2007 World YWCA Council adopted a resolution requesting the YWCA movement to place emphasis on CEDAW implementation as an affirmation of the organisation's commitment to global action for women.
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