Gender-responsive Research and Advocacy through CEDAW (GRACE) in India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Kenya
Women who have survived violence experience negative consequences on their sexual and reproductive health, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections, traumatic fistulas, and are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. They also experience anxiety, depression, and alcohol use disorders. Rates of violence against women and gender based discrimination continue to remain high despite legislative action by governments. With COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has become alarming demanding ever more serious action in protecting the rights of women and addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV) and discrimination across the globe.
The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been considered as an important instrument towards encouraging governments to take action towards protecting the rights of women and addressing gender based discrimination through legal reforms. It has been 40 years since the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been setting up regular reviews to push for accountability from signatory countries towards protecting the rights of women. However, there is piecemeal evidence and research assessing the acceptability and impact of the reviews and recommendations of the CEDAW Committees in driving governments to enact laws addressing gender based discrimination.
In 2019-20, Dr Janani Shanthosh from The George Institute for Global Health completed a pilot CEDAW Implementation Map, a global database of CEDAW Committee recommendations and corresponding government actions to address these recommendations through the implementation of laws, policies and programmes. Building on pilot data and the foundation laid by the CEDAW Implementation Map, this study will address the lack of systematic evidence on what drives the effectiveness of GBV recommendations on law made by the Committee at the periodic reviews and evaluate the strengths and deficits of the laws that result therefrom. By doing so, we hope to place legal innovation in this area in its global and regional social and political context to create a basis for future regulation in the India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Kenya.
The aim of this project is to investigate the role of the CEDAW reviews in influencing the enactment of laws pertaining to discrimination against women in India, Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya; and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of such laws.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the UN CEDAW reviews in influencing governments to protect and fulfill women’s human rights by enacting gender-based violence and anti-discrimination laws.
- Investigating how such laws have been introduced in India, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa, and their reach, acceptability and effectiveness in achieving health and social outcomes
- Identifying the key governance strategies with the greatest potential to spur government action to fully implement CEDAW-aligned laws drawing on the perspective of women’s rights activists.
This three-year project began with a Theory of Change (TOC) exercise to identify key legislations of focus and advocacy priorities in each partner country. In India, the focal legislation is The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013; in South Africa, the focus is on strengthening the implementation of South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act, 116 of 1998; in Indonesia, it is the Domestic Workers Protection Bill (PPRT Bill) and Article 55 and Article 10 of the Domestic Violence Act; in Kenya, the focus is on the decriminalization of sex work.
The methodologies adopted to address the research questions and respond to country-specific advocacy priorities are: stakeholder mapping to identify actors and allies influencing legal reforms and advocacy related to gender-based discrimination in each country; Key Informant Interviews (KII) supported with desk reviews to understand challenges and contexts around the implementation of focal legislations; legal and policy analysis to review alignments of focal legislations with the CEDAW Committee’s recommendations; secondary analysis of program and survey data; conduct of a witness seminar to understand the genesis of India’s legislative action on prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplace. We will also conduct workshops and stakeholder consultations as part of the research activities.
Workplans with research activities corresponding to country-specific outputs have been developed. A stakeholder mapping exercise has been started with all the partner countries to document a list of actors and stakeholders who have influenced the implementation of legislation addressing gender-based violence and discrimination in each country.