By Philippine Commission on Women and UN Women
MANILA, March 2012 – “Many countries have not been able to report on the status of women in conflict situations,” reveals Pramila Patten, United Nations (UN) expert on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in a gathering convened recently by UN Women Philippines and the Philippine Commission on Women.
On mission in East and Southeast Asia, Ms. Patten served as a resource person in capacity development activities of government and civil society, one of which is the workshop to strengthen capacity to implement CEDAW in regard to Women’s Human Rights in conflict situations.
UN Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Badcock said that Ms. Patten’s visit to the country is indeed an opportunity for government and civil society to gain more skills and understanding on advancing human rights in conflict and emergency situations. She also encouraged everyone to take stronger accountability in pushing for women’s right and learn from the UN rights expert’s insights, advice and expertise.
Armed conflict impacts on both women and men and the effects are far-reaching and numerous. The challenges faced by women differ greatly from those of their male counterparts and recent research shows that women as compared to men are disproportionally victimized, said the UN Women’s Human Rights Specialist.
“Today, there are numerous reports on the impact of armed conflict and political strife on civilians which have left little doubt of the endemic nature of violations of women’s human rights, expressly articulating that while all civilians are affected by armed conflict and situations of political instability, women suffer disproportionately because of their sex and pervasive gender inequality,” Ms. Patten said in her Remarks.
She cited other studies also indicating that at the official cessation of hostilities and in transitional justice mechanisms instituted in the immediate aftermath of conflict, there has often been little or no accountability and redress for the full range of human rights violations suffered by women.
Women are often excluded from the reconstruction processes that take place after armed conflict as well as from peace building initiatives. Refugees and internally displaced persons - a large percentage of whom are women and girl children - are an almost inevitable result of armed conflict, and the problem is growing. Evidence exists of widespread mistreatment of women in refugee camps and these women also face distinctive problems that are largely unacknowledged as they attempt to rebuild their lives as refugees in a new country. When it becomes possible to return home, women often have fewer opportunities than men to participate in peace, reconciliation and reconstruction processes, Ms. Patten said.
During her stay in the country, Ms. Patten served as a resource speaker to forums and workshops in Manila and Davao. UN Women Philippines took this opportunity and led the coordination among government offices, UN agencies and civil society organizations and gender advocates to collectively organize series of activities that aim to surface and improve women’s human rights based on the country’s international and national commitments to gender equality. UN Women worked on this capacity in partnership with the Commission on Human Rights, Philippine Commission on Women, the Philippine Representative (on Women’s Rights) to the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau and the Philippine Deaf Resource Center.
The dinner reception for Ms. Patten was held on March 21, 2012 at Hyatt Hotel Manila. The event was graced by Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, UN Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Badcock, DFA-United Nations and Other International Organizations Assec. Eduardo Meñez, Commissioners Victoria Cardona and Norberto dela Cruz of the Commission on Human Rights, and distinguished guests from government, UN Agencies, donor community and civil society organizations. Apart from briefing on the work of the CEDAW Committee, Ms. Patten provided several examples of OP-CEDAW cases from other countries and mentioned the case of Karen Vertido as one of the celebratory cases solved under the Optional Protocol. Ms. Patten also shared the CEDAW Committee’s General Recommendations on VAW, health and migration that have enriched
international law and now form part of jurisprudence enabling of women’s access to justice.
The responses from the speakers and from the audience revolved around the paradox that as women win more victories and spaces in law and society, the full enjoyment of their rights guaranteed by the CEDAW, other international covenants and their domestic translation into legal measures, policies and programs in the country are still not completely met.
This activity is supported under the UN Women’s regional project, Regional Programme on Improving Women’s Human Rights in Southeast Asia funded by the Canadian International Development Agency