Poore advised the ILGA Asia conference delegates to be critical of the CEDAW but also try to understand the controversial character of the instrument and learn how to maximize the instrument.
For example, many Southeast Asian countries have not ratified the CEDAW and some Asian countries have ratified the instrument with reservations.
The CEDAW does not cover Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and lesbians, bisexuals and trans (LBTs). But human rights are not cast in stone, we should view them as living documents, as continuing works in progress. Before General Recommendation (GR) 27/28, it was more difficult for women’s groups and for the CEDAW Committee to address LBT issues. GR 28 explicitly mentions Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). The section on elderly women also mentions SOGI.
Even if the country has not ratified the Convention, these provisions can be used in the shadow reports and in lobbying document. Submission of reports either independently or with the women’s groups in your country will depend on the particular contexts of the country.
The workshop was very interactive with questions and sharing from workshop participants from Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, etc.
Poore gave the following tips on engaging the CEDAW Committee:
(a) Give strong evidence to the CEDAW. Help the Committee by providing accurate and verifiable evidence. It would help if CSOs can undergo a training on human rights documentation;
(b) For shadow reports, the ideal length is 7 pages but 15 pages are allowed. The Committee members are very busy, reading hundreds of documents. The case will be helped by submitting reports which are succinct, concise, systematic, and backed up by strong evidence;
(c) Every minute counts. Do not waste precious time by running around looking for photocopying machines. Bring your own small printer so you are prepared for last-minute printing jobs. Have in your budget some items for contingency.
Poore shared more tips on strategies on how to maximize the CEDAW process but these strategies are not for public consumption lest we alert the "enemies" of human rights and LBT rights, thus giving them ammunition against us.
For those interested in getting more information on the CEDAW mechanism, the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW) and IGLHRC conduct intensive training on CEDAW which help groups come up with shadow reports and lobbying document.
Poore also mentioned an upcoming General Recommendation (GR) which will cover women’s access to justice.