Workshop on the Optional Protocol to CEDAW

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In November 2001, The LAW Project organized a Workshop on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), jointly with the University of Michigan Law School and in collaboration with the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women. This Protocol, which came into force in December 2000, represents a new avenue of recourse for women to claim their sex equality rights under CEDAW directly against their governments in an international forum. More than fifteen lawyers from countries that have signed or ratified the Optional Protocol including Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Malawi, Mauritius, the Philippines and Senegal came to the workshop, which was designed to identify and explore possible cases that could be brought under the Optional Protocol. The cases that were discussed and developed cover a range of issues including domestic violence, rape, labor law, and citizenship law. The meeting was chaired by Justice Elizabeth Evatt, former Chair of CEDAW. Jane Connors, then Chief of the Women’s Rights Unit of the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, Professor Andrew Byrnes and Professor Catharine MacKinnon served as technical experts for the meeting.