IWRAW AP - International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific

NGO Participation in the CEDAW Reporting Process

Governments of countries that have ratified the CEDAW Convention are obliged to submit periodic progress reports to the CEDAW Committee. NGOs can also submit their own reports to the committee to enable its preparations and strengthen its capacity to draw accountability from governments. CEDAW members are glad to use any information that they can get that can help them to assess the information they are receiving from States parties reports.

NGOs can ensure that they are representing the voices of women who may not be visible to the bureaucrats who write States parties reports. In particular, they can critically engage with the reporting and monitoring process by providing:

Reports on State action may also help to reveal why women's rights commitments often remain de jure commitments rather than representing de facto change. It enables NGOs to identify areas for intervention where the state may not be able to intervene effectively, and where NGOs may provide support services to create enabling conditions for women's rights to be achieved.

Such alternative reports help experts within CEDAW to raise certain controversial issues that may not at all be presented in the official report, or to check on the validity or veracity of government reports, given the alternative information provided them by NGOs.

NGOs can also create a lobby presence during the CEDAW session wherein the government renders its oral presentation. The presence of NGOs creates pressure on the reporting state party to be prudent in what it reports to CEDAW. Aside from this, NGOs can also lobby for the inclusion of crucial issues in the concluding comments that will be drafted by CEDAW. Concluding comments, among others, include suggestions by the Committee on measures that states parties should undertake.

States have a tendency to send local UN representatives to the CEDAW sessions, who are often not in a position to respond with authority to the issues raised by the Committee. NGO observers are permitted to be present at CEDAW and feed information back to their networks at home about commitments made by their representative and, at the same time, domestic pressure may help to ensure that appropriate officials are sent to attend the meeting.

For a diagrammatic overview of the CEDAW reporting/review process, including the points in which NGOs are able to participate, click here.

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