Posted by: atho46 | February 7, 2012


By Amanda Thompson, International Women’s Rights Action Plan – Asia Pacific, Kuala Lumpur & Geneva

It has now been a few weeks since my last entry, and I am currently on my way to Geneva, Switzerland, so I thought I would update you on life in KL and the happenings at IWRAW-AP.

The work I have been undertaking these last few weeks has mainly involved legal research and writing, and reading, reading, reading. But that said, the subject matter has been fascinating. I have been trawling through and attempting to summarise official government CEDAW country reports on the situation of women’s human rights in each state. The reports have ranged from insightful acknowledgement of soaring rates of sexual violence and school drop out rates, to absolute flat denial of the existence of sexual exploitation through serious human trafficking.

Part of what makes the work so interesting is the process of verifying the government reports against damning NGO statements explaining facts such as the policies the government has been spruiking so adamantly have yet to be implemented or the important domestic violence law hasn’t even passed through parliament!

The statements from the NGOs are all so different and highlight the diverse cultural perceptions and priorities for women that the participants from these NGOs will bring with them to Switzerland. I am really looking forward to meeting them all, not in the least because I am so curious to learn the methods and ideals they uphold in the campaign for women’s human rights in each of their countries, which I am sure will be so different to my experience in the western, developed democracy we have in Australia.

Aside from that task, I have also been working on a project with my colleagues to verify the sources the OECD uses to create their Gender Index for countries around the world. I was assigned North Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and from what I could garner from the scant credible information that is out there about North Korea, women (and the general population) live very hard lives, not in the least because of the hunger resulting from endemic food shortages since the 1990s and the absolute complete lack of health care. The Gender Index can be seen here.

Outside the office I have been making some great friends through the very active CouchSurfing community here in KL. There are regular meetings out on the town and on the weekend I was fortunate enough to join a sunrise hiking trip up a local peak. It was just amazing, starting in the darkness at 6am with our torches, scaling jagged rock walls and hauling myself over enormous crevices.

Between my colleagues at the office going out for cake and drinks after work and wandering through the beautiful Malaysian outdoors with my CouchSurfing friends I feel I am learning bucketloads about Malaysian society and Asia in general as the community here is so diverse. I am actually a bit reluctant to leave so soon for Geneva, I feel as if I am just getting started here in KL and am building a good rapport with my colleagues in the office, but I know the CEDAW session will be a great experience in itself, so on that note – I better head off to my boarding gate!


  1. […] IWRAW-AP Report ( […]

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