CEDAW for Change Training Program
The CEDAW for Change Institute has been offered at our home base in Toronto and at a range of international locations since 2004. The key objective of this program is to provide training participants (typically women’s organization representatives, human rights defenders, government representatives, researchers, grassroots community leaders, educators, lawyers, and more) with an understanding of human rights principles and obligations in the context of the international human rights system, to prepare participants to understand the CEDAW Convention as a living document and to apply its principles practically to support women’s equality and empowerment. This unique educational institute brings feminist perspectives and an activist orientation to the inextricably related issues of peace, human rights and life-sustaining development.
CEDAW for Change Institute
This educational institute is designed to cultivate a better understanding of the principles of non-discrimination and substantive equality as enshrined in CEDAW (UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and each State’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill women’s human rights. The core principles and functions of CEDAW as tools for activism and feminist analysis will be explored, ensuring that all participants will be able to ground diverse women’s issues in a women’s human rights framework.
During the training we will learn through activities focused around identity and interconnectedness, the complex nature of discrimination, the impact of culture and religion on women’s rights, and activism against discrimination. We will examine case studies that have come before the CEDAW committee and will explore ways in which CEDAW can be used to support local and national level activism through the submission of Shadow Reports by NGOs, through the CEDAW Optional Protocol, and through national and local campaigns and educational initiatives.
The CEDAW Indígena, also known as the CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women, is a training program that looks at CEDAW through the lens of Indigenous women’s experiences and activism, and in conjunction with other important UN documents, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, among others. This training first developed in collaboration with WHRI alumna, Wayunkerra (Karmen Ramirez Boscan), and is executed as a collaboration between the WHRI and partner organizations.
The first CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women was held September 23-30, 2012 in Colombia in collaboration with the Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu, in the ancestral lands of the Wayuu, in La Guajira, Colombia. The Fuerza has since gone on, in collaboration with other regional and national women’s organizations in Colombia, to coordinate the crafting of a Shadow Report to CEDAW which was submitted at the Oct 2013 CEDAW session, and continues to build movement and offer training on CEDAW and Indigenous Women’s Human Rights.
Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating on offering a training focused on Indigenous women’s rights and organizing, or are seeking Indigenous women’s human rights defenders for consulting or training initiatives.
The CEDAW course was nothing short of enlightening for me. Through the course, I expanded my perceptions of women’s struggles and achievements across many cultures and I understood my own objectives and challenges as a woman, mother, and feminist as part of a much broader, collective project for women worldwide.
One important “take away” for me from the course is that women’s rights are human rights, not just in an abstract sense but also in a very concrete documented form. I learned how the articles of CEDAW can be used to defend and articulate women’s rights through research, writing, activism, teaching, feminist mothering, and international law. In my own case, the course has prompted me to ponder ways that I can integrate CEDAW principles into my PhD research about sexualization of girls occurring in competitive dance.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I was given through the CEDAW intensive to join a community of such intelligent, insightful, self-aware women who intuitively seemed to know how to share the space and the available time so that everyone could participate in listening, learning and contributing to discussion. I was delighted that the faculty was so open-minded about body-based approaches to learning and I found that our forays into various forms of dancing led by different members of the group added to my sense of personal and collective agency.
I am so glad to now be carrying a knowledge of CEDAW with me. It is a valuable tool which will inform and shape my efforts towards improving women’s lives and my vision of a more equitable world for all.
I will recommend the CEDAW intensive to my colleagues without reservation.