A recommendation for CEDAW on gender and development policy by WIDE Austria

WIDE Austria has elaborated a proposal to serve as a basis for the comprehensive improvement of the monitoring and reporting methods of CEDAW members by proposing a General Recommendation on “Women’s Rights and International Development Policy”.

WIDE Austria has criticized Austrian development policies the past years for its lack of a coherent gender perspective. This is confirmed by two NGO-shadow reports on the implementation of CEDAW by Austria. WIDE Austria concluded from information by other development networks and by periodical reports of various CEDAW member countries that many Northern countries lack a coherent gender perspective within development co-operation and development policies. This is in contexts in which Northern countries allocate less money to development programmes and projects in countries in the global South while more of this money is transferred to private enterprises. Though NGOs and many governments from the Global South have been struggling since years for human rights based control over activities of transnational corporations, up to now this concern has not been reflected by concrete policies.

The evident negative effects of reduced financial means for development cooperation on the living conditions of already disadvantaged women in “receiving countries” are aggravated by measures and strategies in other areas, above all in the context of international economic, trade-related, agricultural, environmental and migration policies. They can endanger or even annihilate positive results of development cooperation.

For WIDE Austria all these trends urgently necessitate the elaboration of a “General Recommendation” for CEDAW which can serve as a manual for a women’s rights-oriented assessment of deficiencies and gaps of gender within development policy and for subsequent efforts of improvement and positive changes.

Another important reason for requesting a CEDAW General Recommendation in the above mentioned context consists in the fact that the Convention, per se, does not contain any explicit reference to development co-operation and international development policy. Interpretations in this direction can only be derived from CEDAW article 3 and 14 and from the General Recommendations Nr. 28 and 30. In principle, however, the entire Convention is oriented towards the world-wide struggle against women’s poverty and towards the fulfillment of their basic needs.

Structure of the publication

In the introduction of this publication WIDE Austria explains the background and reasons for this proposal for the elaboration of a general Recommendation CEDAW. The first chapter reflects on the Committee’s concluding comments and observations to member states’ reports while providing various examples in “Northern” and in “Southern” regions of the world. Chapter two deals with a survey the ”Situation of women in countries of the global South”, outline possible reasons for their persistent poverty, above all in the rural areas. In this context the role of development-cooperation programmes and of economic policies of international organizations and institutions and their consequences for women are scrutinized.

Chapter three follows reflections and concrete requests and proposals for the realization of women’s rights and gender justice in the field of development co-operation as well as in the areas of financial, budgetary, economic, trade-related, agricultural, environmental and migration policies.

The starting point of chapter four for an analysis of selected “Human rights instruments on women’s rights and international development” recommendations consists in a reference to the “Maastricht Principles” which were presented in 2011 by experts in international law and human rights as the basis for the recognition and implementation of extraterritorial obligations of states. Against this backdrop a condensed analysis of messages in CEDAW and in other United Nations human rights instruments on the issues of “gender equality and international development” follows unveiling inconsistencies and gaps.

In the final chapter, it is pointed out that the commitment to gender equality in the context of international development policy can be articulated very positively and comprehensively in human rights instruments and by states’ representatives at international meetings, but that these messages are often controversial in themselves and differ from case to case. Moreover, the realization of these proclamations is often endangered by economic interests and enterprises and these are excluded from the government’s policies. Women’s rights and gender justice in the context of international development co-operation and development policy and the respective obligations of states should therefore be specifically defined and formulated and be reflected in a pertinent CEDAW General Recommendations on this issue.

For more information write to: mueller[at[wide-netzwerk.at (Milena Mueller).

For the full proposal see: http://www.wide-netzwerk.at/index.php/gender-in-der-eza/248-womens-rights-and-international-development-policy

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