Methods of work
At its first and second sessions held from 6 to 10 June 2011 and 24 to 28 October 2011 respectively, the Working Group discussed its methods of work and other issues related to its mandate pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 15/23.
A. Functioning of the Working Group
The Working Group decided to nominate a Chairperson-Rapporteur for a one year term on a rotation basis.
Ms. Kamala Chandrakirana was nominated as the first Chairperson-Rapporteur. The next rotation is scheduled to take place in October 2012 at the 5th session.
The Working Group intends to carry out two to three country missions per year following invitations received from member states. Country visits will be conducted in the spirit of promoting constructive dialogue with States as well as collecting good practices in the elimination of discrimination against women in law and in practice.
The Working Group decided that country visits will be undertaken, to the extent possible, by the Chair-Rapporteur together with another member of the Working Group from the region where the country visit takes place.
Members of the Working Group will avoid to the extent possible conducting official visits in their country of origin.
As per standard practice, the final composition of the visit delegation will be communicated to the Government concerned during the preparation of the visit.
Engagement with states and other relevant key stakeholders
- The Working Group intends to develop a dialogue with States through letters soliciting information as means to collect good practices in the thematic areas identified.
- The Working Group intends to issue calls for submissions to the relevant stakeholders to solicit information, documentation and material related to its thematic priorities in order to enhance the Working Group’s capacity to conduct dialogues and cooperation with States, human rights mechanisms, inter-governmental bodies, relevant UN entities, regional and national human rights institutions, experts and civil society organisations.
- The Working Group also intends to develop and distribute questionnaires on specific issues of concern to review further good practices and experiences in the elimination of discrimination against women in law and in practice in relation to the thematic priorities.
- The Working Group will consider additional means to collect relevant information, including consultations and expert meetings.
- Communications may be addressed to the Working Group by a State, State organ, intergovernmental and non-governmental organization (NGO), or any other organisation and individuals. The Working Group shall review the information with a view to taking appropriate action.
The outcomes of the above activities are intended to inform implementation of the tasks with which the Working Group has been mandated.
Next sessions of the Working Group
• 3rd session: Geneva, 27 February - 2 March 2012
• 4th session: New York, 23 - 27 July 2012
• 5th session: Geneva, 1 - 5 October 2012
B. Implementation of the mandate of the Working Group: program of work
Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 15/23, the Working Group’s mandate includes the following tasks:
- to prepare a compendium of best practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women or are discriminatory to women in terms of implementation or impact;
- to undertake a study on the ways and means of cooperation between the Working Group and States to eliminate discrimination against women in law and in practice; and
- to make recommendations on the improvement of legislation and implementation of law to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.
These tasks will be carried out through constructive dialogue and in cooperation with Member States, human rights mechanisms, inter-governmental bodies, relevant UN entities, regional and national human rights institutions, experts and civil society.
The Working Group is mindful of the work carried out by CEDAW, other treaty bodies and Special Procedures mandates, and intends to build on existing standards and initiatives developed by international and regional human rights mechanisms as well as on the available knowledge and tools produced to date by UN bodies, states and civil society on the subject matter.
The Working Group intends to address the elimination of discrimination against women in law and in practice based on the States’ obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil women’s human rights.
The Working Group intends to develop its approach to best practices by building on existing work on this issue by other mandate holders of the Special Procedures, including taking note of the preference towards using the terminology of ‘good practices’.
Priority theme and focus for the biennium 2012-2013
The Working Group will focus on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice in the following two thematic areas:
- public and political life
- economic and social life
The Working Group regards both themes as integrally connected and interrelated.
Violence against women will be treated as a cross-cutting issue for both thematic areas.
The intersection of various grounds of discrimination will be a cross-cutting perspective and particular attention will be given to specific groups of women, including but not limited to, women living in poverty, migrant women, women with disabilities, women belonging to minorities, indigenous women, older women, girl children, including adolescents, women in conflict situations, refugee women, internally displaced women and stateless women.
In 2012, the Working Group intends to address, as thematic priority, the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice in public and political life with particular focus on efforts undertaken in times of political transition, particularly transitions which involve fundamental changes of political regime and/or of the legal system.
The Working Group will send letters to all member states seeking information on approaches related to:
- Constitutional and other legislative initiatives and reforms put in place to promote women’s rights and gender equality, including through the revision and repelling of discriminatory provisions in the legislation;
- Strengthening the framework of state institutions, machineries and mechanisms to implement actions in order to fight against all forms of discrimination and violence against women;
- Women’s political participation, on equal terms with men, in the transitional and post-transitional process at all level of decision-making, including through the adoption of temporary special measures;
- Women’s access to justice, including transitional justice mechanisms.
Such information will be compiled with a view to identifying established practices for the elimination of discrimination against women in law and in practice and making recommendations on ways and means to empower women in times of political transition.
In 2013, the Working Group intends to address the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice in economic and social life paying particular attention to those efforts undertaken in times of economic crisis.
Note: the Working Group will continue refining the scope and means of its research and study into its thematic priorities as well as its methods of work as it carries out its mandate.