The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) - WWHR Experience

The Convention on the Elimination of All Kinds of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW) remains one of the most useful instruments at the UN level to promote women’s human rights in the national contexts. The United Nations General Assembly accepted the CEDAW in 1979, which became a convention in 1981, and which the Turkish government ratified in 1985. The Ratification of the Convention makes it necessary for State parties to implement policies that prevent discrimination against women and to prepare and present a report to the CEDAW Committee on a continual basis for a review in terms of their advancement on national implementation of CEDAW. It is common practice that women’s organizations prepare the so-called “shadow” or “alternative” country reports for presentation to the CEDAW Committee. These shadow reports represent the civilian country perspective on the advancement of women’s human rights as foreseen by CEDAW and as such serve as extremely valuable tools in making the UN review process a much more credible and effective one.

WWHR-New Ways has been participating in the CEDAW process since 1997 by drafting shadow reports, lobbying the government and the CEDAW Committee during the reviews, and advocating for the adoption of recommendations by the Committee. We participated in this international process in the context of the third periodic review of the Turkey Country Report in 1997. At the time we had coordinated the preparation of the very first shadow report for Turkey along with two collaborating organizations of the Purple Roof Women’s Foundation and the Equality Watch Platform.

In 2004, WWHR-New Ways started the coordination and facilitation of an NGO Shadow Report to CEDAW for Turkey’s next periodic review in 2004-2005. We prepared and submitted a shadow report to the CEDAW Pre-Session, endorsed by 26 members of our national Women’s Platform on the Turkish Penal Code, in June 2004. Our Shadow Report, which was highly acclaimed at the pre-session, included sections on specifically the new legislation and its shortcomings in relation to gender issues in Turkey (the new civil and penal codes, and the constitutional amendment for gender equality), as well as recommendations for upcoming reforms (the public administration and local governance reform, labour legislation and the quota system). Almost all of the issues raised in this pre-session report, were integrated by the CEDAW into the list of “critical questions” that the Committee posed to the Government of Turkey prior to its official presentation of the country report at the January 2005 session.

Click here to read the Critical Questions document.

We updated our Shadow Report for the January 2005 Session, including our demands for the new Turkish Penal Code and specific policy demands to increase women’s participation in the labour force. The report was once again endorsed by the Platform and sent to Committee members for review prior to the session. WWHR-New Ways and three members of the Platform lobbied the Committee during the review session for the demands outlined in the shadow report.

Click here to read the Shadow Report.

The advocacy and lobbying efforts proved very successful as the recommendations in the Concluding Comments put forth by the CEDAW Committee made reference to almost all the points raised in our report, calling the government to take the necessary measures to reform and implement existing legislation, policies and programs to overcome discrimination against women. Following the review session, the recommendations were disseminated to all interested parties, including NGOs, government officials and local groups. WWHR-New Ways undertook a major media campaign following the session to publicize the issue and raise awareness on CEDAW. We are continuing to lobby the government for the implementations made by the CEDAW Committee, while also preparing for Tureky’s upcoming review in 2008.

Please click below to read The Shadow NGO Report on Turkey’s Sixth Periodic Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is ready for submission to the 46th Session of CEDAW in July 2010, in New York.

Please click below for the report in Turkish: