Posted by: leahok | February 15, 2013

IWRAW-AP’s ‘From Global to Local’ Program

Having as much preparation as possible completed prior to departing Malaysia, I felt confident that the following three weeks in Geneva would run smoothly. However, Program Officer at IWRAW-AP, Ayesha, warned me to expect the unexpected and she was right!

I am in Geneva to attend the 54th CEDAW Session (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and to help run IWRAW-AP’s ‘From Global to Local’ program. This program helps enable local Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to come to Geneva to complete training on CEDAW and participate in the session. The NGOs have the opportunity to present an oral statement to the CEDAW Committee during the formal session and to facilitate an informal lunch briefing with committee members. ‘Global to Local’ ensures that National level NGOs are armed with the resources and knowledge of CEDAW to effectively lobby and advocate for change in this global forum and to continue to push for change in their countries. Emerging issues identified by CEDAW can be communicated to and utilised by national level NGOs, but more importantly, the presence of local NGOs enables CEDAW to gain accurate, independent and objective views and information about the realities of women in a certain country.

For the 54th Session Global to Local program there are participants from Pakistan, Hungary, Angola and Macedonia. However, Austria, Cyprus and Greece will also be reporting at this session.

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The UN Grounds in Geneva covered in snow

After arriving last weekend and enjoying a couple of days of sightseeing, I realised the enormity of the busy schedule over the next couple of weeks and what Ayesha meant by ‘expect the unexpected’. On Wednesday we were notified that Pakistan’s reporting may be delayed. We had six participants in our program who were planning to fly out from Pakistan that evening and who were obviously very anxious to know whether they should delay or cancel their flights. It was also very stressful from this end, communicating with the CEDAW Secretariat here in Geneva, our office in Malaysia and the participants in Pakistan proved a difficult task especially coordinating time-zones and office hours. Finally we resolved to have the relevant participants delay their travel until the issue could be clarified. Literally moments after directing the participants to delay their flights, the CEDAW secretariat emailed to say all was confirmed and Pakistan would be reporting after all!

Because of the confusion and change of flights, some of the participants arrived late to the training- but it all worked out in the end!

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Pakistan NGO participants listening to their State party report to the CEDAW committee

The week ahead will be interesting and busy! I will go along with the participants to the UN and attend the CEDAW Review Session. It is my responsibility to document essentially everything that happens! So no doubt I will be speedily typing away while trying to appreciate the process, the International Human Rights system and the eagerness of the representatives from National NGOs.

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I feel like I’m working hard and staying in Geneva completely justifies a diet disproportionately weighted with bread and cheese- especially when the bread and cheese is so delicious!  Later next week I will update you on the progress of this diet and the happenings of the UN in Geneva- let’s hope there are no more dramas!


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