On Friday 21 September 2018, WISERD Co-Director Professor Paul Chaney gave a keynote address at H.M. Treasury, Government Economic Service and Government Social Research Annual Conference in Aldersgate, London. The conference theme was ‘Better Analysis through Diversity of Thought, Place and People’.
Professor Chaney presented the findings from WISERD research into international progress in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. He argued that exploring civil society’s views is a valuable complement to jurisprudence and Human Rights Indicators. Evidence from Asia (including India and Nepal), Africa (including Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, and Rwanda) and, post-conflict states (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Ethiopia, and Georgia) – revealed a series of issues and challenges arresting international progress in relation to the UN treaties.
Overall, conference-goers heard that, compared to civil society organisations, governments often exhibit different understandings of gender equality issues, and assigns markedly different priorities to them. Notably, civil society organisations were highly critical of what they saw as a consistent state failure to address gender-based violence, and issues like female foeticide and bride trafficking.A further failing identified by NGOs was governments’ failure to address poverty and economic inequalities – which, as the civil society discourse detailed, underpins much of the discrimination and oppression facing women and girls today.
A further issue was institutional-related obstacles and resistance to the adoption of equality policies and legislation. Amongst the remaining challenges were: inadequate communication, coordination and capacity impeding the mainstreaming of gender across the government sector and; enduring patriarchal and discriminatory sociocultural norms. The analysis also pointed to growing political constraints on civil society, particularly in Asia – and how this is hampering NGOs mobilisation and advocacy of gender equality and human rights.
i https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15339114.2015.1099827 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X16000085