Our programmes are:

Focused on CEDAW

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Convention) mandates substantive equality and gender responsive policies and programmes that are premised on a human rights perspective. It requires States parties to condemn discrimination against women in all its forms and to ensure its elimination. The strength of the CEDAW Convention is that it recognises the systemic nature of the oppression of women and extends protection to all groups of women in all contexts.

Using a Rights-Based Legal Framework

A rights-based legal framework, however, does not automatically confer rights; it only legitimises the claims for rights. Instead, women have to be able to claim their rights and our programme targets this need. There are many barriers to women claiming their rights. These may be hostile culture or tradition, a gender bias in the administration of justice, and many other reasons. It is thus essential to train and educate women at the same time supporting them to claim their rights. This can be done by creating the necessary conditions through standard-setting via international norms and gender-sensitive enforcement mechanisms.

What is a Rights-Based Framework?

This means that our programmes are informed by an analytical approach based on structural and systemic discrimination based on race, gender, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnic and cultural origin, nationality, marital status, HIV or AIDS conditions or other arbitrary grounds. We examine underlying causes of rights violations and strengths and weaknesses of State efforts. We identify factors that are needed to create a culture of compliance with human rights norms and institutional frameworks and legal instruments that are needed for the administration of justice. Based on this analysis, we develop programmes that aim at enhancing the capacity of women to claim their rights to equality and non-discrimination in a just and peaceful society. 

IWRAW Asia Pacific's programme is premised on the belief that discrimination is at the root of all forms of deprivation, and that all rights are interrelated. One right deprived affects the enjoyment of other rights. As such, we seek to enhance people's control over the processes through which they can articulate and claim opportunities; and build their capacity for economic self-reliance, good health, well-being, and freedom from abuse. This entails the elimination of discrimination in all fields as well as the promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

The domestic implementation of human rights norms requires both enforcement mechanisms and the creation of a culture that encourages compliance with human rights principles and standards. The former refers to the courts and the legal system, which sets standards, appraises compliance and makes authoritative decisions forcing compliance. The latter deals with defining, invoking and promoting rights so that a culture that recognises people's rights and demands for justice is formed. These two dimensions are mutually reinforcing.

The implementation of human rights treaties and other mechanisms are critical in the realisation of women’s equality. IWRAW Asia Pacific views treaties and mechanisms as tools for bringing about change at all levels – local, national and international. They impact a wide range of contexts (e.g. violence against women, employment, rights in marriage, citizenship rights and rural development), by setting standards, obligations and monitoring mechanisms on human rights.

Consistent work with treaties ensures State accountability for taking specific actions to realise the human rights of women according to an expanding set of principles, standards and substantive commitments.

Builds the Capacity of women’s rights groups and activists

We work with women’s rights NGOs to translate CEDAW rights and obligations into domestic reality. As a result of our collaboration and support various women’s rights groups are able to use CEDAW norms and mechanisms to hold states parties who have ratified CEDAW and its Operational Protocol (OP-CEDAW) accountable for compliance in their countries. This is achieved through training and capacity building, as well as various mobilisation and advocacy strategies. As a result of our efforts women’s rights groups are able to:

- Challenge structural and systematic discrimination in employment, economic opportunities, education, access to adequate and comprehensive healthcare, land distribution and ownership, political participation and in cultural, social and family structures, amongst others through applying a CEDAW lens

- Address the specific impact on women of migration and trafficking, conflict and post-conflict situations and economic growth and development policies

- Advocate for effective change to national legal and policy frameworks in order to give effect to CEDAW rights and obligations

- Enhance their capacity, skills, resources and knowledge about CEDAW rights and state obligations, in order to claim their rights and ensure due diligince on state obligations

- Lodge complaints or initiate inquiries in order to seek effective redress and remedial justice under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW where their national jurisdictions have failed to deliver on the promise of gender equality

- Strengthen the rule of law, good governance, peace and security and adherence to democratic principles in their societies

- Influence and enhance CEDAW and international treaty bpdy norms and standards through effective participation in treaty body processes

- Network with national counterparts, regional and international women's rights advocacy groups as part of a broad feminist movement