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Most pressing issues of women's rights in the Netherlands - Oral Statement Network UN Women's Convention

This blog highlights the Dutch CEDAW Network shadow process - The Dutch CEDAW Network provides a shadow report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW) on behalf of a large number of organizations about the way in which the UN Women's Convention is observed in the Netherlands. In this weblog impressions of and reflections on this 'shadow process'. More on the website.
Last Monday, the time had come for the Oral Statement. In 5 minutes we were allowed to brief a CEDAW preparation working group about the shadow reporting and the most pressing issues regarding women's rights in the Netherlands.
In the Statement, we first of all refer to the major concerns that the signatories have about the fact that Dutch policy is still (mainly) gender neutral. This causes certain groups to be ignored and made invisible and even backfires. During the covid-19 pandemic, Dutch figures showed no increase in domestic violence. But was the Netherlands really the only country where this shadow pandemic had not struck? And has the Netherlands become safer for women, or not? The extreme violence against sex workers during the covid-19 pandemic and the (sexual) intimidation and hate speech that women, especially black, migrant, refugee, Muslim and LBTI+ women face, suggest otherwise. This makes it all the more distressing that the current subsidy model makes it difficult for a large part of the organizations that these women represent to contribute to policy.
In addition to a delegation from the Network, NNID was also present to explain the joint shadow reporting of NNID, TNN and COC. Annelies Tukker of NNID spoke impressively about the problems that arise among lesbian transgender and intersex people. The College of Human Rights also issued a statement, through board member Geneviève Lieuw. Like the Network, the Institute discussed (among other things) the insecurity experienced by women due to domestic violence, sexual intimidation and hate speech.
After all Oral Statements (not only the Netherlands, but also Armenia, Georgia, Djibouti, Finland, Niger, Honduras and Turkey were discussed) the committee members were given the opportunity to ask questions to the NGOs present. The NGOs had to answer these questions in writing within 24 hours. We as Dutch NGOs were asked one question, namely whether forced sterilization of women is regulated in Dutch law, and whether there is case law regarding the forced sterilization of intersex children, which is in line with the UN Women's Convention. This question came from the committee member Ana Peláez Narváez. Together with NNID, we quickly formulated an answer to this question, thanks to the quick responses to our questions to organizations in the field that deal with this theme. In the answer, we address concerns about the 'Not Pregnant Now' programme, against which Bureau Clara Wichmann has successfully litigated. Suggestions for questions that the committee could ask the Netherlands are: how does the government guarantee the protection of the self-determination of all women, including those who are considered "vulnerable"? And what measures have been taken to protect the rights of intersex people?
And now?
 Now we have to wait for the questions that the committee will put to the Dutch government. The questions will probably be published this week. And then the Netherlands will have to work to formulate an answer to the – hopefully critical – questions. Let's hope that the government takes the shadow reporting and the questions from CEDAW seriously, and that together, NGOs and the government, can take steps to improve the position of all women in the Netherlands, including black, migrant, refugee, Muslim and LBT+ women.
The writing team
The UN Women's Convention Network is an open partnership between various women's and human rights organisations. It ensures that the Netherlands fulfills its obligations under the UN Women's Convention. The organizations in the Network do this, among other things, through joint lobbying activities, campaigns and by writing the shadow report. See also:

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