For those who don’t know about The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, better know as CEDAW, here’s a brief explanation: CEDAW is the latest international law working to promote the rights of women around the world. Countries who ratify CEDAW are expected to work to improve the status and treatment of women within their country and are monitored by providing reports to the UN. There are no legal punishments, but there are unidentified consequences to not submitting reports and not working to attain these goals. There are currently 185 countries who have passed CEDAW – some include: England, Australia, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Gambia, France, Kuwait, Jamaica, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
The United States is the only developed country to not have ratified.
Case Example: Jamaica
Jamaican women have been mistreated for too many years to count. Sexual violence from both strangers and trusted persons is particularly high in Jamaica, as is sexual slavery (particularly common is selling daughters to be sex slaves). Investigations against perpetrators can be inadequate and ineffective, there are long delays, and women often face discrimination during the legal process.
Jamaica signed the CEDAW treaty on 17 July 1980 and ratified it on 19 October 1984. In the 36th session of CEDAW, the committee expressed disappointment in Jamaica for not taking action to defend women or eliminate these atrocities. The committee urged Jamaican government to “put in place, without delay, a comprehensive strategy, including clear goals and time tables, to modify or eliminate negative cultural practices and stereotypes that discriminate against women.”
(Very) slowly but surely, conditions are beginning to improve. Women are having fewer children (which has helped them in raising their families), thanks to Jamaica’s family planning program, which provided information about contraceptives and maintaining sexual health. Women are also trying to build careers. Most recently, the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) released a booklet about CEDAW and the treatment of women in Jamaica.
From the article:
“It highlights a user friendly manner, how women’s human rights are violated in various areas, for example, through gender based violence, poverty and unemployment, limited access to power and decision-making and persistent gender stereotyping,” [according to Linnette Vassell, chairperson of WROC].
Issues surrounding the convention includes equal pay for equal work, empowerment through equal education, unacceptable working conditions faced by women, sexual harassment and abuse, prejudiced faced by women who are HIV positive and disabled.
Most importantly, anyone on the street should be able to read it.
Hopefully this is the beginning of much-needed change in Jamaica…