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.

The Concern of Cambodian Men’s Network Over the Safety and Living Condition of Borei Keila Residents, Particularly Women

We, Cambodian Men Network (CMN), an alliance of over 1,000 voluntary men from diverse professions, statuses, and religions, are bitterly disappointed at the failure of the Royal Government of Cambodia to seek solutions in relation to the forced eviction of the authorities and the brutal persecution of the police on Borei Keila resident against their peaceful protest. The articles of the Cambodia Daily February 02, 04, and 05 and the photo of a woman walking on the road with her upper-half body nude shocks and worries us. It is the first time ever in Cambodian history to witness the bold act of the Cambodian woman.

We are acutely aware of the timidity of Cambodian women, particularly when their sexual organs are exposed. Her decision to take off her shirt shamelessly, therefore, simply tells us that they are overwhelmingly impatient to await the handling of the authorities on their rights to housing. Instead of receiving proper responses from the government, they have been continuously disturbed, including going through sleepless nights owing to the boisterous eviction at night and the savage wreckage by the authorities and the police when the residents tried to prevent their houses from being bulldozed flat. Their demand just ends in deadlock and they do not hope that they will have homes to live in a dignified manner just like others, which is one of human being basic needs. It seems better to be dead than alive or surviving like dying.

We, as the members of CMN, are gravely concerned about the unresolved plight. We, thus, would like to appeal for attention and consideration of the Royal Government of Cambodia and all the authorities involved to find the answers to the problems of Borei Keila slum residents in a prompt and non-violent manner. 

We all hope and believe that the government and the relevant institutions will pay undivided attention to solve the issues in the right, just, humane, and prompt manner.   


Discussion Workshop on “Recommendations to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for Cambodia’s new National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women”

As part of the 16 Days of Action against Gender Violence campaign, Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC), Cambodian Men’s Network (CMN) and Women’s Media Centre (WMC) are today holding a full day Discussion Workshop on “Recommendations to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for Cambodia’s new National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women” at the Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh under financial support of UN Women. (Agenda of the workshop can be downloaded here: EnglishKhmer )

A range of stakeholders from different provinces and also Phnom Penh approximately 60 (half from NGOs sector and half from community people) and will have the opportunity to dicuss their ideas and suggestions for the new National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women, in particular related to prevention of violence against women and response/service to survivors of violence. Their recommendations will be provided to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs who are the government ministry primarily responsible for developing this National Action Plan.

Win for first Asia-Pacific case under CEDAW Optional Protocol

Two years after it’s submission the committee on the elimination of discrimination against women, voted on the decision between Karen Vertido and the Philippines on whether the Philippines violated Ms. Vertido’s rights under the under Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Optional Protocol. Ultimately, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women voted favorably for Ms Vertio and asked the Philippines to conform its legislation to current international jurisprudence.

This Case is historic because it is the first case brought under the Optional Protocol, from the South East Asian region and the first rape case ever to be decided under the protocol.

The concern of civil society organizations over the situation of Borei Keila residents, particularly women

We, Gender and Development Network (GADNet) comprised of 62 member organizations, are utterly shocked after having read the news on the Cambodian Daily February 02, 04 and 05 with the photos illustrating an upper-half naked body of a woman walking on the road in a desperate and hopeless protest to claim the land where she had lived for long.

The houses of Borei Keila residents were razed in January, and the residents were forced to leave. In the confrontation, women protesters were persecuted by the police as some were beaten up, dragged, and shoved into the van. We are completely dejected to see the plight moving on without any appropriate solution from the government. If we look back, Cambodian women were too dignified, too reserved, and too timid to expose themselves in public in a nude body. Their act just simply tells us that their depression is too much for them to stand but to turn them shameless to take their shirt off and walk in public as no longer do they feel they have anything to get by. We call for attention from the relevant government authorities to seriously consider the urgent and basic needs of Borei Keila residents before the situation gets worse and worse.

We strongly believe that the government authorities will consider the solution for Borei Keila residents in a right, just and prompt manner.

International Day to Stop Violence Against Women

end violence

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated worldwide every year on 25 November. To mark the day, activists, governments, international organizations and NGOs organize activities designated to raise public awareness on the issue.

Women’s activists marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961). On 20 December 1993, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

To coincide with this date Gender and Development for Cambodia (GAD/C) and Cambodian Men’s Network (CMN) jointly organized the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), which is a 16 day event starting on November 25 that promotes the end of male violence against women.

Unite Campaign Launches in Asia Pacific

The United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women kicked off in the Asia-Pacific region on 25 November 2010 at an event in Bangkok. The launch coincided with the annual observance of the ” International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women”.

 The Asia-Pacific regional component of the UNiTE campaign aims to rally all stakeholders governments, civil society, the private sector, the media and the United Nations system to join forces to address the global pandemic of gender-based violence that affects up to 70 percent of women throughout their lifetime.