Circle of Empowerment
Twenty-Five years of the un committee on the elimination of discrimination against women
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: The Feminist Press
Advance Praise, Title Page
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Message on CEDAW’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary
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From the birth of the United Nations, women have made judicious and skillful use of our organization as a platform to voice their demands for equality and nondiscrimination. From the signing of the Charter—which proclaims the equal rights of men and women—and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through subsequent instruments...
Introduction and Acknowledgments
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This book tells a story of success. It celebrates twenty-five years of the work and achievements of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee) in monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention), the most important international human...
Personal Reflection: In Celebration
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Since the coming into force of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on September 3, 1981, there has been significant progress in the promotion of the human rights of women. In many countries, constitutions now include provisions guaranteeing equality between women and men. Laws that prohibit discrimination in general—as well as in regard to specific rights such as...
The Convention as a Living Instrument
The Nature and Scope of the Convention
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A historical perspective on women as individual holders of human rights clearly identifies them as latecomers. The adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979; the Convention) and later of its Optional Protocol (1999) was a milestone in the long and arduous process toward this goal....
Personal Reflection: Interpreting the Convention
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The CEDAW Convention was the product of a determined bid by the women’s movement to ensure a comprehensive code setting out the major principles of women’s human rights and the obstacles to achieving them throughout the world. It was a notable piece of work, ranging across a huge canvas, but it was a work constrained by opposition to a new human rights...
Relationships with UN Conferences, Specialized Agencies, Programs,and Funds
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The adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was a historical event for women of the world and the recognition of their human rights. Nevertheless, its implementation was faced with various difficulties: the CEDAW Committee had only one monitoring instrument—the reporting procedure with the...
Human Rights I: Overarching Challenges
Universalizing Women’s Human Rights through CEDAW
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The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was one of the first human rights treaties that incorporated the concepts of universality, indivisibility, and interdependence of human rights. The Convention’s norms of equality and nondiscrimination on the ground of sex are elaborated in specific provisions...
Culture, Religion, and CEDAW’s Article 5 (A)
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The clash between culture, religion, and women’s equality with men has become a major issue in the global arena. Such conflicts arise in the context of almost all orthodox religions and traditionalist cultures and result in barriers to women’s rights that vary in form and severity. My interest in this topic goes back to 1974, when, as a young lecturer, I introduced...
Education and Legal Literacy
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For more than twenty years the CEDAW Convention has been part of my life. I lectured on it as a professor of law, I used it as an activist and since 2005 I monitor its implementation as a CEDAW Committee member. This essay will focus on the meaning and scope of Article 10 of the Convention providing for the right to education. I will also consider women’s...
Personal Reflection: Persistent Discrimination
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I joined the CEDAW Committee in January 2002 after the Tanzanian expert, Dr. Asha Rose Migiro, who had been elected to the Committee in August 2000, resigned by virtue of being appointed Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children. The Committee accepted my nomination as a replacement, and I was expected to serve the remaining...
Private Global Enterprises, International Trade, and Finance
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When I was a member of the CEDAW Committee in the mid-1980s, my colleagues and I spent much energy on the struggle between competing ideologies. Members from the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries, which dominated the Committee, insisted that women could achieve equality only under their centrally controlled socialist economies...
Human Rights II: Specific Challenges
Poverty, Prostitution, and Trafficking
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In 1986, I was a professional researcher at the Trade Union Research Center in Moscow, responsible, as Chief of the Section, for studying issues concerning working women. In that capacity I had prepared a variety of documents for the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO); I had taken part in the Second and Third UN World...
Personal Reflection: Rethinking Prostitution and Trafficking
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I shall never forget my first CEDAW session in January 2003 and how enthusiastically I prepared for it. As I read one of the first government reports as a member of the Committee, I did not want to believe my eyes at one point. The report of a not-to-be-named Western European State proudly declared that it had a very pro-woman migration policy. The...
Unfinished Battles: Political and Public Life
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This essay is the product of three different experiences. First, there is my experience as a historian. Like many students and academics of my generation I discovered, with the help of the feminist movement of the sixties, that history—as it was then written and taught—ignored women almost completely. Thus, I learned in school that universal suffrage had
Impediments to Progress: The Formal Labor Market
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When I started my work as an expert on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee) in 1989, I held the political position of Director General for Women’s Affairs of the newly established Department of that name in the traditional Federal Ministry of Family, Youth and Health in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)...
Personal Reflection: Opportunities and Traps- The Informal Labor Market
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It was not long after I joined the Committee in 2003 that I realized that I had earned the reputation of an “Article 11 fanatic.” That was mainly because during the examination of States Parties’ reports, I regularly posed questions on the situation of women in the informal sector and expressed my concerns about the increase of females in the global workforce in the...
The Female Face of Migration
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It was while I was the Philippine Ambassador to Brussels in the mid- 1980s that I had one of my earliest personal encounters with the “human face” of migration, and—as to be expected in hindsight—it was the face of a woman, a Filipina. Three people paid a call on me at the Embassy that day: the young Filipina, a Belgian man, and a Filipina Catholic nun...
Women’s Health : Accommodating Difference
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My interest in the area of women’s health started in the 1980s, when I was a graduate law student. At that time freedom of choice in abortion was a major constitutional issue, new frontiers were being reached through innovations in assisted medical reproduction, and feminist theory was just starting to develop. After completing my studies in the United States at...
Rights of Rural Women: Examples from Latin America
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As a diplomat for the Mexican Government, I have been associated with the CEDAW Convention from its very first beginning. Not only was I responsible for the organization of the First UN World Conference on Women (Mexico, 1975), which endorsed the preparation of the Convention, but also, as a representative of Mexico to the Commission on the...
CEDAW and Violence against Women: Providing the “Missing Link”
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I first heard about the CEDAW Convention in 1988 while I was studying as a Ph.D. student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in the United States. Though I remember no substantial discussion about CEDAW, Charlotte Bunch taught a course called “Women, Violence and Human Rights,” which I took with about thirty other women—graduate...
Women in War and Its Aftermath: Liberia
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Liberia is a small country on the northwest coast of Africa with a population of more than 3.4 million. Originally inhabited only by indigenous Africans, it became the home for liberated American slaves in the nineteenth century, and thus the name “Liberia” was adopted, meaning “Land of the Free.” The country is rich in natural resources, such as diamonds,...
The Work of the Committee
The Nature and Mandate of the Committee
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The CEDAW Convention established the creation of a body of independent experts—the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women—to monitor its implementation through a review of States Parties’ reports. The procedural articles of the Convention describe the nature of this Committee, the characteristics of its members, their election...
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Support by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women; The Early Years; Challenging Governments; The First Twelve Years; The Middle Years; Outreach and Impact; Dual Perspectives; Working for Equality; Achievements and Obstacles; Challenges and Impacts; Progress and Obstacles; On Twenty Years of Involvement
Strengthening Women's Human Rights Through Individual Complaints
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Human rights are inclusive: they include both women and men, they include any individual without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion (UN Charter, 1945). It is that fundamental message of human rights that has always motivated me. For that reason I was more than pleased when The Netherlands government asked me to chair The Netherlands...
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As members of the CEDAW Committee—Yolanda Gómez on her second mandate and Regina da Silva on her first—we were directly involved in the first inquiry by the Committee under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Both us have been deeply engaged in the struggle for sex and gender equality in our countries and at the regional and international...
Personal Reflection: The Circle of Empowerment
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As one of the CEDAW experts from 1994–1998, I had the rare opportunity of “engaging the State” in a critical dialogue about the Convention. Until then, I had always thought of UN processes as too remote to be appreciated by NGOs and much less by ordinary women. As an activist, who had worked for many years in social movements and in the “parliament of the...
From Global to Local: The Involvement of NGOS
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My engagement with the CEDAW Convention started in 1989, when I read about it and subsequently attended a meeting held in Vienna to discuss this treaty in the context of reproductive rights. At that time, I was working with a regional program on women, law, and development that was based in Malaysia. Previously, however, I had worked for more...
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Achieving Fruitful Results; A Lawyer's Perspective; The Finnish Act on Equality; A Source of Inspiration; An Important Part of History; Spreading the Convention's Norms through Education
Remaining Challenges and the Way Forward
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Thoughts on the Committee's Past, Hopes for its Future; Important Changes and Further Reforms Needed; Reflections on the Future
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Text of the Convention
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Text of the Optional Protocol to the Convention
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Summary List of General Recommendations
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Index, Information about The Feminist Press
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Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2007