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Regional meeting on Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee and the rights of sex workers and women who use drugs

Between 10 th -12 th November, 2016, in Budapest, Hungary, SWAN in collaboration with IWRAW Asia Pacific hosted a Regional Meeting to discuss follow-ups on Concluding Observations given by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) to 10 countries in the CEECA region - Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine.

CEDAW Convention, adopted in 1979, is a widely ratified international human rights treaty, and it is unique because it specifically addresses discrimination against women. The Convention requires historical, systemic and cultural discrimination faced by women to be identified, and the impacts of such discrimination on women’s lives to be addressed by National Governments.

The progress of addressing the issues by Governments is assessed by CEDAW Committee in a 4 year reviewing cycle of reporting, conducting a dialogue, receiving Concluding Observations and Recommendations for measures of improvement, implementation of measures and reporting on the progress again.

Most of the participating at the regional meeting groups have been already engaged in the CEDAW reviewing cycle, through shadow reporting on the cases of discrimination against woman sex workers and women who use drugs (related to health, structural violence, stereotyping, right to work etc), and monitoring the measures taken by the Government to eliminate those discriminatory practices.

Most of the groups also managed to receive a certain Concluding Observations/Recommendations in regards to sex work or drug use. During a 3 day meeting the groups revised issues and violations of women’s human rights, mapped required measures from own shadow reports, went through the Concluding Observations given by CEDAW Committee, assessed governmental measures/gaps and gains, as well as actions and strategies implemented by NGOs/good practices and barriers.

Based on this analysis groups then developed country action plans and discussed strategies for collaboration and advocacy at the regional level.