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Integrating Academic Work into UN Gender Equality Policy-making: Insights from CEDAW Experience Feride Acar Professor Middle East Technical University,

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Presentation on theme: "Integrating Academic Work into UN Gender Equality Policy-making: Insights from CEDAW Experience Feride Acar Professor Middle East Technical University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Integrating Academic Work into UN Gender Equality Policy-making: Insights from CEDAW Experience Feride Acar Professor Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey Former Member and Chair of UN CEDAW Committee ( )

2 Gender equality and women’s human rights agenda: flourished in the UN context flourished in the UN context UN has been the seat of progress in global gender equality standards UN has been the seat of progress in global gender equality standards adoption of new ways and innovative mechanisms to make policy have played a major role in this result. adoption of new ways and innovative mechanisms to make policy have played a major role in this result. UN and Gender Equality

3 Role of academia in UN’s gender equality agenda: comments on current state of affairs comments on current state of affairs some recommendations some recommendations UN Gender Policymakers & Academia

4 “OK, my academic friend, can you make it (your comments) simpler and shorter?” “It is not good enough for science but (it is) useful for policy.” “In spite of the useful research findings of some of the institutes and valuable capacity building projects of others, the overall contribution and potential of the research institutes remain largely underutilised by the UN community.” How they view each other...

5 Institutions, governments, international bodies try to improve organizations’ research utilization Institutions, governments, international bodies try to improve organizations’ research utilization Universities, academic research institutes look into ways of producing more “user-friendly” research Universities, academic research institutes look into ways of producing more “user-friendly” research Difficult relationship between academic research and policy-making and there are specific bottlenecks. Difficult relationship between academic research and policy-making and there are specific bottlenecks. Policy-makers and Academia

6 Social science research compared to physical, engineering and medical sciences, is likely to be indirect and its impact more difficult to observe, compared to physical, engineering and medical sciences, is likely to be indirect and its impact more difficult to observe, is more likely to be ‘enlightening’ and ‘legitimative’ for policy-makers rather than ‘main input’ for decisions and actions. is more likely to be ‘enlightening’ and ‘legitimative’ for policy-makers rather than ‘main input’ for decisions and actions. Policy-making and Social Sciences

7 Policy-makers find it difficult to keep up with the newest research. Policy-makers find it difficult to keep up with the newest research. Policy-makers may lack substantive knowledge on issues and this can be limiting as to what finds its way into policy discussions and documents. Policy-makers may lack substantive knowledge on issues and this can be limiting as to what finds its way into policy discussions and documents. Policy-makers tend to ‘play safe’ and not take risks with new ideas or in unchartered territory. Policy-makers tend to ‘play safe’ and not take risks with new ideas or in unchartered territory. Some Bottlenecks

8 In-built selectiveness in the UN system In-built selectiveness in the UN system Hierarchy of sources used by policy agencies Hierarchy of sources used by policy agencies Lack of systematic channels of communication with the research community Lack of systematic channels of communication with the research community Policy makers looking for new research to refine, improve or elaborate existing thinking Policy makers looking for new research to refine, improve or elaborate existing thinking Descriptive research most commonly utilized Descriptive research most commonly utilized Policy-makers lack access to the full range of research ‘out there’ Policy-makers lack access to the full range of research ‘out there’ ‘Out of sync’ expectations of different actors ‘Out of sync’ expectations of different actors Some Bottlenecks

9 How does academic research/policy- making relationship work in the specific context of CEDAW? Some observations and recommendations

10 The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979) The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979) legal backbone of the international gender equality regime legal backbone of the international gender equality regime 186 state parties / 192 UN member states 186 state parties / 192 UN member states legally binding instrument, fundamental international human rights treaty, international law legally binding instrument, fundamental international human rights treaty, international law translates equality between women and men from abstract concept to concrete legal standards translates equality between women and men from abstract concept to concrete legal standards living document with ‘teeth’, viable and relevant yardstick living document with ‘teeth’, viable and relevant yardstick CEDAW Process What is it? How does it work?

11 The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) (1982) The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) (1982) UN monitoring body for the Convention UN monitoring body for the Convention international body of elected experts (23) “of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention” international body of elected experts (23) “of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention” mandated to monitor and assess progress in the implementation of the Convention through mandated to monitor and assess progress in the implementation of the Convention through examination of state party reports examination of state party reports ‘constructive dialogue’ with state representatives ‘constructive dialogue’ with state representatives NGO-based information NGO-based information other sources other sources CEDAW Process

12 The Committee: provides country specific recommendations to states for future action provides country specific recommendations to states for future action interprets the Convention for all through General Recommendations (Committee’s jurisprudence, soft law) interprets the Convention for all through General Recommendations (Committee’s jurisprudence, soft law) makes Suggestions to UN bodies/agencies for effective implementation of gender equality standards makes Suggestions to UN bodies/agencies for effective implementation of gender equality standards is a crucial actor in global gender equality policy- making is a crucial actor in global gender equality policy- making CEDAW Process

13 To carry out its mandate, the Committee needs, as input, constant flow of information and knowledge at both global and country specific levels. To carry out its mandate, the Committee needs, as input, constant flow of information and knowledge at both global and country specific levels. The Committee is expected to impact international and national policy agendas and actions through its outputs. The Committee is expected to impact international and national policy agendas and actions through its outputs. CEDAW Process and Academia In general CEDAW’s access to newest research and academia’s access to CEDAW’s work are critical.

14 CEDAW members base their comments and opinions on numerous sources. CEDAW members base their comments and opinions on numerous sources. Legally and conventionally government reports are main source of information. Over time, the impact of NGO (shadow) reports has become vital. Reports from national equality bodies are also received. Legally and conventionally government reports are main source of information. Over time, the impact of NGO (shadow) reports has become vital. Reports from national equality bodies are also received. Opening of semi-institutional channels of communication facilitated civil society participation in the process. The women’s movement created/used this ‘window of opportunity’ effectively. Opening of semi-institutional channels of communication facilitated civil society participation in the process. The women’s movement created/used this ‘window of opportunity’ effectively. CEDAW Process and Academia In general

15 Reliable research results and information provided in government reports are likely to be credited in the policy recommendations. However, they are uneven in scope and quality. Reliable research results and information provided in government reports are likely to be credited in the policy recommendations. However, they are uneven in scope and quality. Information supplied to the Committee by NGOs has a good chance of finding its way into the Committee opinions. Information supplied to the Committee by NGOs has a good chance of finding its way into the Committee opinions. UN bodies and agencies lag behind in providing country specific information to the Committee. The information provided is scarce, uneven, unsystematic. UN bodies and agencies lag behind in providing country specific information to the Committee. The information provided is scarce, uneven, unsystematic. CEDAW Process and Academia Inputs to the Committee

16 Current composition: diplomats, lawyers/judges, bureaucrats, other professionals, civil society activists and academics (3/23). Current composition: diplomats, lawyers/judges, bureaucrats, other professionals, civil society activists and academics (3/23). Open to receive information from academic sources particularly on ‘emerging issues’; have ‘respect’ for research but lacks structured mechanisms to access it. Open to receive information from academic sources particularly on ‘emerging issues’; have ‘respect’ for research but lacks structured mechanisms to access it. Due to the composition of the Committee and the nature of its work, new mechanisms are necessary for academic research to penetrate into its policy- making. CEDAW Process and Academia Composition of the Committee

17 Committee’s policy recommendations to states are directed to governments and civil society. Committee’s policy recommendations to states are directed to governments and civil society. Academia can be an important agent of dissemination of the Committee’s outputs to the larger society. Academia can be an important agent of dissemination of the Committee’s outputs to the larger society. There is need to establish institutional/semi-institutional mechanisms to link the Committee to academia. There is need to establish institutional/semi-institutional mechanisms to link the Committee to academia. To enhance gender equality policies globally and ensure their sustainability, systematic relations with universities and research institutes linking the Committee’s work into their research agendas and teaching curricula are essential. CEDAW Process and Academia Outputs of the Committee

18 UN bodies’ cooperation with gender and women’s studies communities and institutions locally UN bodies’ cooperation with gender and women’s studies communities and institutions locally Increased recruitment to UN policy making positions from academe Increased recruitment to UN policy making positions from academe Continuous support for policy-oriented research in the gender equality area to encourage academic engagement Continuous support for policy-oriented research in the gender equality area to encourage academic engagement UN leadership support of mechanisms to foster relations between academia and policy makers on regular bases UN leadership support of mechanisms to foster relations between academia and policy makers on regular bases support for existing centers of research support for existing centers of research new “centers of excellence” established in cooperation with universities new “centers of excellence” established in cooperation with universities participation of UN staff in these on a temporary basis to enhance ‘cross-fertilization’ participation of UN staff in these on a temporary basis to enhance ‘cross-fertilization’ Some Recommendations

19 THANK YOU


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