Monday, 7 March 2011

Using CEDAW in the UK

CEDAW is the UN Women’s Bill of Rights. CEDAW stands for ‘the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women’ and 186 countries have ratified it worldwide.

During February the Women’s Resource Centre worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Rights of Women to present four events exploring ways CEDAW can be used in the UK. We held events in Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle and women came from across the UK.

Workshops were run by Rights of Women and the British Institute of Human Rights as well as by WRC and members of the CEDAW Working Group. The workshops included an introduction to using CEDAW and other human rights standards in work on violence against women, information on other international women’s rights instruments and international mechanisms in general, and how CEDAW and other tools can be used to lobby and make change locally.

The EHRC also talked about the Optional Protocol – a legal way an individual woman can bring her case directly to the UN if she has been discriminated against.

Every four years the UK Government have to submit a report about the steps they have taken to achieve real, substantive equality for women. Their next report to the UN CEDAW Committee will be published this summer.

Women's and human rights organisations and campaign-groups can submit shadow reports to have their voices heard by the UN. These events were a valuable opportunity to consult with regional women’s groups and offer them support to feedback into the next shadow report.

The women who attended offered important insights into the challenges facing the women’s sector and the women they support and they provided powerful case studies from their work. It was wonderful to meet so many women and we really enjoyed the training, but don’t just take it from us, see what the women who attended said about the events!

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