CEDAW Canada Review October 2016

Canada is up for review at CEDAW next week. The information below explains where and when you can watch the proceedings, as well as what else you can do.

canada-rolled-paint-map_art-650x380Calling feminists and women’s rights advocates in Canada!

Mark October 24-25, 2016 on your calendar!

Are you ready to hold the Canadian government accountable to international women’s human rights obligations?

Do you want to see how the Canadian government is representing their progress on and challenges to women’s human rights implementation in Canada at the United Nations?

On October 25th, the Government of Canada will be assessed on its women’s human rights record by the independent human rights experts of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva.  This is a public and participatory process that will be live webcast.  Feminists and women’s advocates need to show the Government of Canada that we are watching, that we will hold them accountable for what they say, the commitments they make, and that we will follow up on the recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee to ensure decisive action is taken.

How can you get involved?

Watch the livestream to find out what your federal government is saying about WHR! Get together with friends, colleagues and advocates to watch together! Share quotes and your thoughts on social media to draw attention to the process!

WATCH: Tune in online:  http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/

October 24th, 3 pm Geneva time: hear Canadian NGOs make their statements to the CEDAW Committee

October 25th, starting at 10 am Geneva time:  watch the constructive dialogue between government representatives and the CEDAW Committee experts LIVE. The dialogue continues until 5 pm Geneva time, with a break for lunch.

MAKE NOISE: Draw attention so that the Canadian government knows women are watching and holding them to account, and so that the media covers the CEDAW review:

Use the hashtags:  #Rights4CdnWomen  #CEDAWCAN2016

  1.  NOW!  To share your opinions on important women’s human rights issues in Canada that should be discussed at the session
  2.  During the LIVE dialogue! To share what our government representatives say, and so they know we are watching in order to hold them account!
  3.  After the review! Usually 2-3 weeks later, when the Committee issues its formal recommendations to the Canadian government on their website.  These should be made visible and the government should know we are reading and following up on them!

Watch the FB page and search the hashtags to find out more information and ongoing updates!

Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/CEDAWCanada

cedaw

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Canada and CEDAW

Canada ratified the CEDAW Convention on December 10, 1981.  The CEDAW Committee is reviewing Canada’s 8th and 9th periodic reports on October 25th, 2016 at the 65th CEDAW Session. The Canadian government delegation will be in Geneva then to discuss and answer any questions from the Committee in a full-day dialogue process (10-5 Geneva time, with a break for lunch).

Many Canadian civil society organizations have also submitted Shadow Reports on key issues affecting women throughout the country. The CEDAW Committee will also meet with these organizations to gain a greater understanding of the Government of Canada’s progress on implementing the Convention.  NGOs will make short official statements on October 24th around 3 pm Geneva time.

Read the Canadian government’s official report, and NGO submissions, here:  http://tinyurl.com/jbzdba9

What are the key issues?

Some of the key issues that have been raised in the Civil Society reports submitted to the CEDAW Committee include:

  • Uncertainty around the National Inquiry on and weakness in the government’s response to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG)
  • Institutional government mechanism to implement and monitor the status of implementation of UN treaty body recommendations
  • Sex discrimination in the Indian Act
  • The increasing incarceration rates of women; with high prevalence of racialized women and women with histories of trauma and mental health challenges
  • Women’s significant levels of poverty and inadequate housing
  • Increased funding for civil legal aid
  • High rates of male perpetrated violence against women and barriers to accessing shelters
  • Gender pay gap and women’s disproportionate representation in precarious, part-time work
  • Lack of universal/affordable childcare
  • Access to sexual and reproductive health services and information
  • Refugee women’s access to social security benefits

What is CEDAW?

CEDAW is the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, a binding human rights treaty that has been ratified by 189 countries around the world, including Canada.  It sets global standards for women’s human rights, defines obligations for governments, and calls for the eradication of all forms of discrimination against women from an intersectional perspective.  It obliges States who have ratified the Convention to submit a report on all measures they have adopted to implement the Convention into their national laws and policies, and to provide details on all efforts taken to eradicate discrimination against women in all spheres of life.

How does it work?

The CEDAW Committee, which monitors the implementation of the Convention, is composed of 23 independent experts on women’s rights from around the world.  After a government submits a report under the Convention, they send representatives to engage in a one-day “constructive dialogue” with the experts of the Committee about the content of the report, who make recommendations to the government to improve the women’s human rights situation in their country.  NGOs can also provide alternative and complementary information to the Committee during the reporting process, and play an important role in following up the recommendations (Concluding Observations) of the committee in the national and local context.

What are Concluding Observations?

These observations are assessments of the implementation of human rights treaties by a state. They are issued by the CEDAW Committee a few weeks after they have heard the submissions. Their findings on how well or badly the Canadian government has complied with their obligations under CEDAW are important tools for advocacy for us at home, and as a recognition of how a UN body holds the government accountable.

Provided by Susan Bazilli of the International Women’s Rights Project.

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