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Special Rapporteur Calls for New Optional Protocol to CEDAW at CSW in New York

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, Ms. Reem Alsalem called for the creation of an Optional Protocol on violence against women and girls to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) during the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality.

“Speaking of State obligations, has the time come to resurrect plans for an optional protocol to the CEDAW specifically dedicated to ending violence against women?” she said. “Most of my predecessors and I believe so.”

The moment marked the first time the current Special Rapporteur called for a global treaty to end violence against women and girls at a United Nations event, a milestone in the movement for a binding international law to protect women and girls. (Listen carefully and you can hear Every Woman Treaty delegates applauding in the background.)

Late last year, the Special Rapporteur and two of her predecessors issued a joint statement on the need for a new Optional Protocol to CEDAW at Every Woman Treaty’s webinar. A third former Special Rapporteur joined the call during CSW.

In her address at CSW, the Special Rapporteur expressed her concern about the rollback on women’s rights and the necessity for the international community to intervene

“Women’s rights are human rights – however I am sure I am not the only one to feel that we stand at an important crossroads when it comes to this fact in law, which is also an aspiration we strive to uphold,” she said. Any advances that may have been made – be they in women’s political or economic participation – are threatened by the frightening setbacks we have witnessed in the last few years.

“What will it take for Member States, including those that center gender equality in their foreign and domestic policy, to show that the lives of women indeed matter?”

The Special Rapporteur pointed out the international community’s failure to stop sexual violence, the terrorization of women, and the marginalization of women. She also mentioned global developments such as the “frightening scale at which information and technology-facilitated platforms and tools are being co opted to facilitate sexual exploitation, violence, and abuse of women and children” bring about an urgency for global action.

Read her full remarks here. Listen to her full remarks here.

Video Source: United Nations Audiovisual Library
11 March, 2024