UK Shadow report on the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

In 2013 the UK will be examined by the UN CEDAW Committee on the measures implemented by the UK to comply with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The UK Government has produced the UK’s seventh periodic report (available here) and the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) is creating a shadow report to send to the UN CEDAW Committee outlining where the UK is not meeting the standards and international obligations required. Find out more about CEDAW and the reporting process here.

In May the GADN VAWG working group provided input into the WRC’s shadow report specifically on ‘international work to address VAWG overseas’ and ‘women as international representatives’. The group outlined the progress that the UK has made since the UK last reported to the UN CEDAW Committee in 2008 and welcomed the positive show of commitment by the UK Government to tackling VAWG internationally. The group provided recommendations on how the UK Government can translate these positive commitments into real differences in women’s lives and as well as how to more proactively drive international action to eliminate VAWG. The group also welcomed the UK Government’s commitment to promote women as international representatives, but encouraged this to be extended to ministerial appointments, and provided recommendations for the UK to take stronger action to support women to take up senior positions within international peace and security structures.

2012 Family Planning Summit 

In April GADN attended a meeting convened by the UK SRHR Network to discuss civil society input into DFID’s current Family Planning initiative, which includes an international Summit taking place in London in July. In May GADN joined the third stakeholder meeting convened by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). There were updates from DFID, UNFPA, IPPF and Gates Foundation, as well as input from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda, Senegal and India. 

GADN emphasised the need to make women’s rights and empowerment much more central to the Summit, not just in the principles, but as a core aim, and to situate this focus on family planning within the larger context of improving women and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive rights. 

Towards the end of May, GADN signed on to a letter coordinated by Oxfam to the Secretary of State for International Development, Rt. Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, welcoming the UK government’s decision to address the large unmet need for family planning in poor countries through the Summit. However, the letter also expressed some serious concerns and highlighted key ways in which the initiative could be strengthened in order to deliver the best results for women and girls, such as promoting women’s choice by addressing social barriers to access, especially violence against women and girls. 

The Post-2015 agenda

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are due to expire in 2015. The UN Secretary-General has recently appointed the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron to co-chair the High Level Panel on post-MDGs with President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Yudhoyono of Indonesia. GADN has set up a working group with an objective to influence the UK Prime Minister to push for a post-MDGs framework that better promotes women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality. In May the group met for the first time to share intelligence and plan a strategy for the coming months. GADN has also joined the global Beyond 2015 campaign and the Bond group on Beyond 2015. We look forward to working with these larger networks to ensure the post-2015 framework promotes women’s and girls’ rights and gender equity. 

Voices from the field

BRIDGE and GADN are gathering stories from around the world to document the impact of changing aid patterns on work to promote gender equality and women's rights. We will post these stories on our websites and bring them to the attention of policy-makers to raise awareness of the individual stories that are often hidden behind the technical language and statistics that surround aid and development policy debates. We are particularly keen to know about: 

  • your experiences of applying for and receiving aid, and of reporting to donors;
  • what differences, if any, have you noticed in aid patterns in recent years;
  • do you think women's rights issues are being addressed sufficiently in aid effectiveness processes - why or why not;
  • what is needed at the country level for enhanced and more effective integration of gender equality and women's rights issues in aid effectiveness;
  • what good or bad models of donor funding have you experienced?

Read stories from WiLDAF (Women in Law and Development) Ghana and REDBOL (Red Nacional de Personas que Viven con VIH y sida en Bolivia) Bolivia

If you would like to share your story with others or if you can suggest an organisation that has an interesting story to tell, please contact Lauren Donaldson.

What works at the community level to tackle violence against women and girls?

Decades of experience by women’s rights organisations of piloting, assessing and honing interventions to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG) at the community level has generated considerable practice-based insights into ‘what works’. In May GADN and Womankind held a meeting for GADN members to hear directly from Womankind’s partners in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia about the innovative approaches they are using at the community level to tackle the traditions, beliefs, norms and practices that perpetuate and condone VAWG. 

We heard from Bogaletch Gebre, Executive Director of KMG Ethiopia. KMG Ethiopia  is an Ethiopian women’s organisation addressing women and girls’ social, economic and ecological rights and needs. KMG works with whole communities – women, girls, boys and men targeting as well marginalised social groups. They are raising communities’ awareness, empowering them to prevent VAWG including harmful customary practices e.g. FGM, bride abduction, widow inheritance.

Emilia Muchawa, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Women’s Lawyers Association, spoke about ZWLA’s work to improve women’s access to justice and transform the environment in which women exercise their rights. They provide free legal assistance to poor women and ZWLA raise awareness on women’s rights amongst community members, government officials, traditional and community leaders and policy makers. They also advocate for changes in laws and policies so that they promote women’s rights.

Emily Esplen, Womankind’s Policy and Advocacy Manager and Co-Chair of the GADN Violence Against Women and Girls Working Group chaired the meeting. Womankind was responsible for producing the Practical Guide to Community Programming on Violence against Women and Girls, one part of the guidance package GADN produced for DFID on Programme Work on VAWG earlier this year. GADN members have been invited to a presentation on the complete package at DFID in June.

From global to local and back again: building links for stronger campaigns 

Lee Webster, Womankind’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, has posted a new entry on the GADN blog, Deeds and Words, talking about the links between campaigns for women’s rights in the Global North and Global South. Read it here. Please do comment!