Mary Liling and Léonie de Picciotto represent ICJW in Geneva. Here are their reports on just two of the events that they have attended recently.
CEDAW Report Launch
Mary and Léonie were invited by Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari to attend a launch event on May 12, 2023, for the second edition of “The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol – A Commentary”, edited by four experts on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW): Patricia Schulz, Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Beate Rudolf and Marsha A. Freeman.
The volume reflects the developments during the decade following the publication of the first edition in 2012. It is a full overview of the work of the CEDAW Committee, including all of its decisions, inquiry reports, and general recommendations. It is one of the most important anti-discrimination and women’s rights instruments, based on the jurisprudence and practice of the CEDAW Committee. Each speaker put the spotlight on a different CEDAW articles.
- Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari from Israel, in charge of Article 16 on family law, underlined that it represents four years of her work. The challenge was “to recapture what happened since a decade”. Until 2008 there was insufficient focus on family relations as threats to women’s rights, maintaining patriarchal laws; “there has been an impressive evolutionary process since ”.
- Hilary Gbedemah, a Ghanaian lawyer, stressed the importance of education to achieve women’s equality. “Education is not only a human right but is also a gateway to other human rights”.
- Prof. Dr. Beate Rudolf from Germany spoke about Article 13 on women and the economy, with its diverse ramifications (labor, self-employment, right to food, right to transport, social security) as “an orphan” dealing with “leftovers” from other Articles. They have been impacted by austerity measures due to the pandemic, economic measures in crisis situations, the Ukraine war etc.
There has been a shift of perspective by CEDAW over the years: all speakers mentioned the importance of intersectionality in analyzing the diverse discriminations that women face. At present, there are 37 recognized intersectional discriminations which need to be addressed.
The UN Watch Annual Summit for Human Rights and Democracy
On May 16, Mary and Léonie attended the opening of UN Watch’s 15th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights, an introduction to the May 17 full-day Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, where we were also present.
We heard moving, heartbreaking testimonies, from brave and courageous human rights defenders, often very young, many of whom had personally suffered from torture and imprisonment; others spoke up for innocent relatives detained by autocratic regimes, such as Russia, China, Iran Afghanistan N. Korea, Zimbabwe. Victims and witnesses of Human Rights abuses in their countries, that need global attention! This yearly events’ purpose is giving “a voice to the voiceless”, who are never heard at the Human Rights Council’s 3 yearly sessions. We were inspired by their messages of hope, and impressed by their determination and resilience.
As representatives of ICJW, we particularly welcomed the Summit’s presentation of its 2023 International Women’s Rights Award to Shima Babei, an exiled women’s rights activist and former political prisoner, in tribute to the courageous women and girl protesters of Iran.
Mary and Léonie at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.