Win for first Asia-Pacific case under CEDAW Optional Protocol

More than two years after initial submission, women’s rights advocates across Asia celebrated the favourable decision in July 2010 by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the Communication brought by Karen Vertido against the Philippines under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Optional Protocol.

This is the first case brought from the Asia-Pacific region under the Optional Protocol and the first ever on rape decided under the Optional Protocol.

The Committee found that the Philippines violated Ms Vertido’s rights under the Convention and asked the Philippines to make its legislation conform to the prevailing international jurisprudence on rape.

UNIFEM (now UN Women) East and Southeast Asia Sub-Regional Office (ESEARO) supported the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) in the Philippines to work on Ms Vertido’s case and to train other women’s groups on use of the Optional Protocol. Some 50 women’s rights groups from different provinces around the Philippines have since attended WLB training workshops. Through the training, other potential cases for submission to the CEDAW Committee have been identified. The training has even been extended to other Asian non-government organisations, and an organization in Thailand is currently preparing a case for submission with the technical support of WLB. Most recently, UN Women ESEARO recommended Ms. Vertido’s WLB attorney as a resource person for a CEDAW Optional Protocol roundtable and workshop organized by the UN in Albania.

The Karen Vertido decision is referred to as CEDAW/C/46/D/18/2008 and can be accessed at the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at

For further information contact Shoko Ishikawa, Regional Programme Manager, CEDAW Southeast Asia Programme, UN Women ESEARO –



16 December 2013 – To what extent will the upcoming elections address gender inequality in politics? Cambodia has been rapidly developing with government and civil society promoting women in politics. However, gender inequality in Cambodian politics permeates all levels of governance. In the upcoming election, all political party platforms aim to promote women in politics to some degree. There are eight political parties that have registered for the national election 2013. Each of them has a different political party platform, featuring gender as an issue.

Delivering a speech during the celebration of International Women‘s Day at Capital Peach Palace in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on more women to run in the upcoming election in order to increase women’s presence in political, social, and economic activities: “More importantly, the Cambodian people always recognise and see women as the mother of the world and the backbone of social and economic development.”

Her Excellency Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Interiork, CPP, highlight CPP’s political platform to help address women in politics during a National Political Platform Debat in Phnom Penh, “CPP continues to work to improve women’s and children’s conditions by increasing access to education, welfare and healthcare, by eliminating discrimination, increasing gender equality, expanding job opportunities and strengthening the implementation of laws against domestic violence and trafficking.”

Her Excellency Mu Sochua, parliamentarian candidate of the Cambodian National Rescue Party in Batambong province also promoted greater women‘s participation in politics: “The Cambodia National Rescue Party pledges for each position given to men, there should be a chance for women to be trained to take up the position after a period of time.”

Her Excellency Mu Sochua also stated: “We provide job positions for women with clear quotas and the Party supports them financially with their own stipend to run the election campaign, which will enable women to have higher chances of representation in the national assembly.”

Ok Veth, A general secretary of the League for Democracy Party believes that men and women have an equal chance to expose themselves, but it has to be based on education, skills, and their capacity to engage in politics effectively.

Ok Veth explains that women are prioritized when they have good skills, attributes, and experience: “The party promotes both men and women for being parliamentarian candidates for the national election in 2013.We also prioritize women by putting them on the top of candidate lists, which is ranked from 1-6.”

Kravanh Daran, A President of the Anti-poverty Party, said, “Our party supports having more women be involved in the upcoming election because we are aware of the importance of their contribution to society. We commit to gender equality, meaning 50% women and 50% men in politics and other job positions in the government and private sector if our party wins the election.”

Her Exellency Prak Chantha, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women Affairs, member of the Board of Directors of FUNCINPEC, said the political party platform was to support women to be leaders: “The party considers the capacity of women in leadership as a priority. We will improve women’s status and include young women in politics. If our party wins the election, we will strengthen the judiciary system to protect women in cases of abuse.”

Supporting women in politics means many things. Broadly, it can mean giving women incentives, providing women with knowledge and education with which they are able to better combat gender inequality.