From 4-5 July, a member of Banteay Srei’s staff attended a training hosted by Khmer Youth Association at the Cambodiana Hotel, Phnom Penh on how to submit a communication under the Optional Protocol (OP) to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The objectives of this training were to increase understanding among participants of the basic features and requirements of OP-CEDAW, to build capacity in using OP-CEDAW to advance women’s human rights in Cambodia and to identify potential cases that can be submitted under OP-CEDAW.
The two day training workshop began with opening comments from Jenna Holiday from UN Women and Wan-Hea Lee from OHCHR endorsing the use and practical implications of submitting cases to OP-CEDAW to raise the profile of women’s rights issues in Cambodia and bring governments to justice on an international platform
The optional protocol for CEDAW was ratified in Cambodia in October 2010 and through the legislation of this treaty, it means that an individual complaint of violations of women’s rights outlined in the CEDAW convention can be brought before the CEDAW committee for judgement and investigation.
This convention provides an excellent tool for civil societies in Cambodia to advocate for beneficiaries at an international level. During the training Mr Ton Vong provided an overview of the international human rights treaties system and Catherine Phoung then proceeded to outline the key features and principles of CEDAW so that all participants of the training had a greater understanding of the treaty and what this can mean in real terms for legislative change in Cambodia.
Individual communications under OP-CEDAW were encouraged and participants received a blow by blow account of what to expect throughout this process. Key case studies which have won cases through the committee were brought to light and participants discussed possible outcomes of a successful communication of complaint at length.
Participants learned how to submit a complaint and practised using case studies to get to grips with required information and identifying violated articles of CEDAW. It it hoped that civil societies in Cambodia will utilise this mechanism to raise the profile of women’s rights issues in the country, to create international awareness of the issues encountered and most of all to hold the government accountable for change and to encourage and equal society for men and women alike with the support of an internationally acclaimed council.