The Initiative on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

A call to support and reflect on the Progress of CEDAW with a Focus on the Representation of Women in Politics
A call to include Cultural Diplomacy Practices in the Implementation Process of CEDAW

Event Report: December 14th 2012, Discussions on Cultural Diplomacy and the Representation of Women in Politics

Interactive Panel Discussion

The interactive panel discussion on ?Cultural Diplomacy and the Representation of Women in Politics? included the following selection of acclaimed and distinguished panellists, the Hon. Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, the Hon. Mireya Agüero de Corrales, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Honduras, Ferdous Ara Begum, former Member of the United Nations CEDAW Committee, the Hon. Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili, Former Vice Prime-Minister Georgia, the Hon. Kristiina Ojuland, Member of the European Parliament for Estonia, Elsa Cordeiro, Member of Parliament, Portugal, Graça Mota Member of Parliament, Portugal, the Hon. Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou, Former Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Cyprus, the Hon. Halldór Ásgrímsson Secretary General for the Nordic Council of Ministers. Chaired by the Hon. Nouzha Skalli, Minister for Family, Social Development, and Solidarity, Morocco.

The panellists mentioned several themes during their interventions, firstly the global statistical increase of the participation of women in politics, which was argued to be due to an increase in education and labour force participation.

Secondly, it was agreed that an advancement of the representation of women in politics requires the support of the Media as well as the recently implemented gender quotas in parliamentary elections, which proved to be most efficient in Nordic countries. The discussion also touched upon the main challenges women still face when it comes to their representation in politics, such as the division of labour and family responsibilities based on culturally constructed views on gender. Finally, the panellists pointed out that the advancement of women in politics as well as other leading positions has become an important issue on countries agendas, and an increasing amount of efforts are taking place with respect to these developments on a global level.

Ferdous Ara Begum

(Former Member of the United Nations CEDAW Committee)
?CEDAW Convention after 30 years: Challenges and Achievements towards the Advancement of Women in the Public and Political Spheres?

Ferdous Ara Begum gave a lecture on the ?CEDAW Convention after 30 years: Challenges and Achievements towards the Advancement of Women in the Public and Political Spheres?. Begum is currently an expert consultant on Gender Issues of United Nations Population Fund. Previously, a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Begum was also appointed as a chair of the Working Group of the General Recommendation on the ?Older Women and Protection of their Human Rights? of the CEDAW Committee.

Begum?s lecture focused on the impact of CEDAW on rights for women since its creation 30 years ago. She emphasized that CEDAW is the only single instrument covering all rights for women, and at the same time aimed at and working towards eliminating all forms of discrimination.

Begum describes that after the adoption of CEDAW, many countries throughout the world, which previously had no codification of women rights, included the provisions of CEDAW in their respective constitutions. Ms. Begum also emphasized the importance of close cooperation of CEDAW with the civil society, non-governmental organizations, and other actors in order to promote and strengthen women rights.

Begum explains that there still remain various challenges CEDAW faces in terms of enforcement of its provisions as she describes that in many countries the protection of women rights remains weak and judges and policy makers have little or no knowledge about the Convention.

In terms of the representation of women in politics, Ms. Begum accented the increase in the number of women in politics, but stated that the ideal balance has not yet been reached globally, and women thus remain underrepresented compared with their male counterparts. In concluding Ms. Begum stated that the ?power of cultural diplomacy can bring a change in the mind set of common people and attitude of government and political will to change the situation, to change the stereotypes about women rights?.

The Hon. Kristiina Ojuland (MEP)

(Member of the European Parliament for Estonia)
?The Role of Women in Resolving Crises?

The Hon. Kristiina Ojuland is an ICD Advisory Board Member, and Member of the European Parliament for Estonia. Ojuland was also the former Foreign Minister of Estonia.

The Hon. Ojuland focused on how women can be effective in resolving crises. The current crisis in the European Union was discussed as well as the aid that has been given through the established mechanisms of the European Stability Mechanism. The Hon. Ojuland emphasized the need for a reform across the EU, prioritizing entrepreneurship, as well as having taxes lowered, state budgets balanced and social sectors reformed. In this regard, she believes that women could play a vital role, and refers to women in politics who are currently working on this kind of reform, such as in the area of E-Governance.250