UN Women in Action

The UN Women CEDAW Southeast Asia programme works in the following areas:

  • with governments to develop technical expertise, political commitment, and constitutions, laws and policies to implement CEDAW across its legislative, judicial and executive branches
  • with civil society organizations to build expertise, maximize the use of CEDAW in their advocacy and services, and to hold governments accountable in their commitments to women’s human rights
  • to enhance the responsiveness of these national mechanisms by putting special emphasis on marginalized groups such as poor or indigenous women

Heightened awareness of CEDAW in both governments and civil society, including knowledge exchange between countries, is enabling the advancement of gender equality as a universal human rights issue and is contributing to the emerging dialogue about rights between government and civil society.

Signs of progress in the realization of women’s human rights in Southeast Asia include:

  • Training judicial staff at Thailand’s Thonburi Criminal Court, in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission, has lead to an increased commitment to enforce the Domestic Violence Act in the court and the adoption of gender-sensitive procedural guidelines for the judiciary.
  • In Thailand, UN Women supported the women’s movement to ensure the Constitution of 2007 includes gender equality obligations in line with CEDAW.
  • In Viet Nam, UN Women supported gender advocates to mainstream CEDAW principles into the national Gender Equality Law. The same was also done in the Philippines for the Magna Carta of Women adopted in 2009.
  • UN Women has developed CEDAW Legislative Indicators for Islamic Laws in Southeast Asia. The indicators are a tool for measuring whether Islamic laws in Southeast Asia are CEDAW compliant.
  • A CEDAW Youth Committee is active in the Philippines, formed in 2008 under the CEDAW Watch Network with the support of UN Women. The Committee aims to raise awareness of gender equality among young people from all over the Philippines and believes in the potential for young people to effect change in their communities through creative approaches.
  • In Cambodia, UN Women and partners worked together to see the Parliament approve ratification of the CEDAW Optional Protocol (OP-CEDAW). OP-CEDAW includes a communications procedure, which gives individuals and groups of women the right to complain to the CEDAW Committee about violations of the Convention. It also includes an inquiry procedure which enables the Committee to conduct inquiries into grave or systematic abuses of women’s human rights in countries that have ratified the Optional Protocol.
  • To celebrate the 30th anniversary of CEDAW, the Asia Pacific Regional Coordinating Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, co-chaired by UNESCAP and UN WomenM, organized an Asia-Pacific wide photo contest. The contest entitled Women CAN: Women’s Rights are Human Rights attracted 330 entries from 28 countries, depicting CEDAW in action. The winning photographs were featured in an exhibition launched by Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting to Review Regional Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and its Regional and Global Outcomes held at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok.

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