CIG Requests CEDAW Extension
As the Minister responsible for Gender Affairs, and as a woman, I have a keen interest to represent and advocate for the advancement of women and gender equality in the Cayman Islands.
Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment & Gender Affairs
Published 10th December 2013, 10:5am
On behalf of the Government, the Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, has submitted a request to Her Excellency the Governor, Helen Kilpatrick, CB, to have the United Kingdom extend the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to the Cayman Islands. Presented on the eve of Human Rights Day (December 10), the request will be forwarded by Her Excellency and reviewed by the UK Government Equalities Office.
The intentions of the Cayman Islands Government to sign onto CEDAW date as far back as 2004, and commitments have also been made at various Overseas Territories Consultative Council meetings. The latest legislative step in the process of meeting the UK’s requirements for CEDAW extension was the passage of the Gender Equality Law, 2011, which came into effect on 31st January 2012. This law prohibits discrimination in employment and related matters and also serves as local “enabling legislation” that upholds the principles of CEDAW.
Minister Rivers emphasised, “As the Minister responsible for Gender Affairs, and as a woman, I have a keen interest to represent and advocate for the advancement of women and gender equality in the Cayman Islands. CEDAW is the only core international human rights treaty that the Cayman Islands has yet to sign onto. This most recent request to have CEDAW extended is a reflection of the Government’s commitment to ensuring equality between women and men and promoting a culture of human rights in the Cayman Islands.” The Minister also noted, “efforts such as these which strive toward gender equality help us create a more positive and equitable future for our sons and daughters and a healthier and more productive society.”
The cornerstone of CEDAW is the principle of equality between men and women and the prohibition of discrimination, which affects women’s enjoyment of political, economic, social, cultural, civil and other rights on an equal basis with men. By accepting CEDAW, countries commit themselves to ending discrimination against women in all forms so that they - along with men - can enjoy all of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“As the first female Governor of the Cayman Islands, I am pleased to witness this significant milestone in our human rights history,” noted Her Excellency. She elaborated that the Cayman Islands has made significant progress over the years towards gender equality and should be proud of the strong legal framework for non-discrimination. “I hope to do what I can to champion the rights of women and to support the efforts to have the CEDAW extended so that all Caymanians and residents have the opportunity to shape our future.” stated Mrs. Kilpatrick.
Countries that have ratified CEDAW are legally obligated to work towards implementing its provisions and are also committed to monitoring and reporting on the measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations. Senior Policy Officer (Gender Affairs), Tammy Ebanks stated that despite the current high levels of compliance with many of these obligations, the benefits of having CEDAW extended to the Cayman Islands include providing the Gender Affairs Unit with easier access to technical and other resources and expertise in the area of gender affairs and also opportunities to build relationships and share best practices and policy recommendations with other countries. CEDAW will also provide a catalyst to examine lingering areas of discrimination and develop strategies for solutions to address inequality between women and men and boys and girls.
Often described as an international Bill of Rights for women, CEDAW was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and has been ratified by almost every single member of the United Nations. The only British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean to have CEDAW extended thus far are the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Extension occurred in 1986 in both Territories, when the UK ratified CEDAW. For more information on CEDAW visit http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm.