International: Important Information on the Upcoming CEDAW Committee Elections

IWRAW Asia Pacific
We would like to call to your attention the need for women's groups and women's rights advocates to continue advocating for the inclusion of independent feminist experts in the CEDAW Committee.
As you may already know, the CEDAW Convention is the only UN human rights treaty that focuses on gender issues. In this regard, it is important that the twenty-three experts of the CEDAW Committee have an understanding of the realities of women's lives.
Each CEDAW Commitee member has the potential of advocating for women's rights at three levels:

1) To uphold the notion that States are accountable to women;

2) To continuously further rights contained in the CEDAW Convention along feminist principles;

3) To ensure that women's NGOs are included in CEDAW-related processes.


On August 5, 2004, official representatives of all the States parties to CEDAW will be electing 11 members of the Committee that will serve from January 2005 to December 2008. This is important to note because the next elections won't take place until 2006, and there is a risk that unless women's groups get involve now, conservative states might do their best to ensure that partial experts are elected to the Committee.

The reason why some states parties to CEDAW are not keen in nominating experts that are "too independent" from the government may be that:

1) Some States Parties (particular those influenced by the Holy See and its allies) do not want the CEDAW Committee to be too progressive, particularly regarding issues around culture, religion as well as reproductive and sexual rights; and

2) Some States feel the Committee's review process "shames" them in the international arena.


You should be aware that this year there are 25 persons nominated and only 11 vacancies. Of the 11 members of the Committee whose terms are expiring in 2004, two are from Asia-Pacific, five are from Europe, two are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and two are from Africa. This will give you a rough idea as to the distribution of vacancies, and how, in this regard, more advocacy will be required in some regions.

The present CEDAW Committee members that seek to be re-elected to the CEDAW Committee and have already shown their commitment to women's rights are: Ayse Faride Acar (Turkey), Sjamsiah Achmad (Indonesia), Francoise Gaspard (France), Fatimah Kwaku (Nigeria), Goran Melander (Sweden), Hanna Beate Schopp Schilling (Germany), Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea) and Maria Regina Tavares da Silva (Portugal).

Of the remaining list of candidates, we are attaching information on three feminist experts that have been very active in their regions as well as in the international women's movements. They are Alda Facio (Costa Rica), Silvia Pimentel (Brazil) and Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia).

The rest of the nominees are: Doris Acevedo (Venezuela)l Magalys Arocha Dominguez (Cuba), Natalya Drozd (Belarus), Antonia Guvava (Zimbabwe), Ressolguessida Clemence Ilboudo/Sawadogo (Burkina Faso); Maria Das Dores Lima Gomes (Cape Verde); Hope Mwesigye (Uganda), Maria Jesus Nkawa Owono Nse (Equatorial Guinea), Glenda Simms (Jamaica), Anamah Tan (Singapore); Taufa Vakatale O.F (Fiji) and Zou Xiaoqiao (China). Unfortunately, we do not have details on these candidates.

Further information on all candidates to be considered this year (CVs) can be found at:

For further information about the election process, go to:

For general information on the CEDAW Committee go to:


If you are in contact with progressive representatives of your government in your home country or in New York, please contact them and let them know that women's groups and women's rights advocates globally want independent experts from all over the world to be elected to the Committee. Please let them know that they are responsible for ensuring that the CEDAW Committee process continues to strengthen national efforts towards the realisation of women's rights.

In some cases, it would be useful to send a letter stating what you know of the existing nominees and give reasons as to why you are recommending specific names to be considered (both in your region and in others).