WOMEN’S rights in Solomon Islands will be under the microscope in October at the 59th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva and government representatives and civil society organisations are preparing at a four-day session in Honiara.
Run by UN Women in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs and with support from the European Union, the training includes capacity building training for both government and civil society representatives as well as a mock committee session and a roundtable discussion on women, peace and security, all of which is being facilitated by the Committee’s vice-chairperson Pramila Patten.
Patten is a barrister in Mauritius and has been a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women since 2003, which means she is perfectly placed to offer technical advice to both government and civil society participants.
Adopted by the United Nations in 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is often described as an international bill of rights for women and any country that ratifies it must take steps towards ending discrimination against women, including abolishing any discriminatory laws and establishing public institutions to help protect women against discrimination.
The Solomon Islands government submitted its progress report last year, which has since been reviewed by the CEDAW Committee in Geneva.
During the session on October 31, the committee will discuss the report with government representatives as part of its efforts to prepare general recommendations and suggestions for future actions.
A group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Solomon Islands wrote their own “shadow” report on women’s rights which is also being reviewed by the committee and a number of representatives will also travel to Geneva for the session.
This is the second mock session that UN Women has held in Solomon Islands and Audrey Micah Manu, the organisation’s programme coordinator for its Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific, says the CEDAW reports and committee recommendations are essential when it comes to holding states accountable for the commitments they made when they ratified the treaty.
“Signing a treaty is just the first step, the real progress comes from making changes that have a real effect on women’s lives. Ending discrimination against women is a key step in achieving gender equality and it is great to see Solomon Islands taking ownership of its commitment to CEDAW and its mandate for gender equality.”
The mock session started on Tuesday runs until yesterday. It was part of UN Women’s Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific programme.