From 1.00 – 3.00 am (not a misprint) on Tuesday 5 July, NCWNZ Parliamentary Watch Committee Convenor Beryl Anderson and President Suzanne Manning attended the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 84 Pre-Sessional Working Group hosted in Geneva, via Zoom. The meeting was chaired by Franceline Toé-Bouda, the committee member from Burkina Faso, who spoke in French. Translation was available (although it took both Suzanne and Beryl a while to find out how to access the translation).
The non-government organisations (NGOs) from countries who will be reporting to CEDAW in 2023 were attending to give an oral presentation in support of their written submissions on their List of Issues Prior to Reporting (LoIPR). These issues guide the CEDAW Monitoring Committee in their questioning of each country’s government during the reporting sessions. The LoIPR for Aotearoa New Zealand was formed collaboratively by NCWNZ with our organizational members and other women's organisations.
We had five minutes maximum to present, so we carefully prepared and timed our oral presentation. The other NGOs presenting in the same session also prepared carefully, and we heard the issues from Iceland, Montenegro, Philippines, Rwanda, and Venezuela. All the CEDAW support people had to do was get the technology right, and there seemed to be difficulties with that!
The major issues that all the countries faced were:
- a lack of gender perspective by the government;
- violence against women;
- women's access to appropriate health care, especially reproductive health care (contraception and abortion); and,
- intersectional gender discrimination.
Following the NGOs, the national Human Rights institutions of Aotearoa New Zealand and Monaco presented their issues. Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, spoke very well for Aotearoa, and it was pleasing to see that her list was similar to ours (see all the LoIPR submissions from New Zealand on the UN website here).
The CEDAW Committee had questions for some NGOs, around providing evidence of their startling statistics, and for the Monaco Human Rights person who was quizzed on why there were no NGO reports. Such questions show the emphasis of the CEDAW Committee on gathering objective and subjective evidence from a number of different sources, in order to produce their monitoring report and recommendations.
NCWNZ will work in a collaborative way to produce the alternative report for the CEDAW reporting session next year.