STER Foundation at the CEDAW Committee’s Session in Geneva

Agnieszka Grzybek from STER Foundation participated in the 59th session of the CEDAW Committee in Geneva together with a group of representatives of CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs. They presented met with CEDAW Committee’s members and presented the statement based on the Alternative Report prepared by Polish NGOs working for LGBTQ and women’s rights.

On 22 October 2015 the Polish government reported on implementation of CEDAW Convention which was ratified by Poland in 1981. Polish NGOs which established CEDAW Coalition presented their Alternative Report in which they had critically evaluated implementation of CEDAW Convention by the Polish government. They shared their statement at the meeting with CEDAW Committee’s members. They highlighted problems of gender stereotypes and vulnerable groups of women, reproductive health and rights and institutional mechanisms of counteracting gender-based discrimination and of promoting equal treatment.

It must be noted that many issues discussed in the Alternative Report evoked questions which were addressed to the Polish government by CEDAW Committee’s members. Members of the CEDAW Committee wanted to know what reasons had been preventing Poland from ratifying Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, what steps had been undertaken by the government to eliminate unstable employment and so-called junk contracts, and why low number of complaints concerning gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment had been submitted to the Chief Labour Inspectorate. Members of the CEDAW Committee were particularly in hearing why the Polish government had not undertaken any actions to stop negative campaign of the right-wing milieus against so-called “gender ideology”. The CEDAW Committee raised also questions about steps undertaken to combat discrimination of women with disabilities, Roma women, LBT women, elderly women and migrants.

– “We were positively surprised by reaction of the CEDAW Committee’s members to our alternative report. We do hope that it will help the Committee to develop recommendations to counteract gender-based discrimination more effectively. We are glad that the Committee was interested in getting knowledge about the current political situation in Poland. Committee’s members asked questions about postponing ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. They noticed the problems of precarious work and junk-contracts and wanted to know what was their impact on women’s employment and how the Polish government addressed these problems. The government responded that these trends were «alternative to unemployment» which rather proved their lack of knowledge how to address these problems. We do hope that questions asked by Committee’s members will induce the government to fully implement CEDAW Convention” – Agnieszka Grzybek evaluated the 59th Session of CEDAW Committee.

STER Foundation has been a member of CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs since September, 2014. Delegation of CEDAW Coalition consisted of Anna Dzierzgowska (Feminoteka Foundation, Education Monitor), Agnieszka Grzybek (STER Foundation), Zofia Jabłońska (Polish Association of Anti-discriminatory Law, Campaign Against Homophobia), Martyna Łysakiewicz (Trans-Fuzja Foundation), Aleksandra Solik (KARAT Coalition), and Karolina Więckiewicz (Federation for Women and Family Planning).