CEDAW Reviews: Mexico

26 Jul

The 30th anniversary of the Committee of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) continued on 17 July 2012with a review of Mexico. The delegation from Mexico discussed the Committee’s questions about the government’s approach towards addressing different forms of discrimination and violence, which continue in many parts of the country.

In its introductory remarks, Mexico focused on recent initiatives taken to incorporate a gender perspective in all three branches of its government. Despite steady improvement, such as new health insurance policies and lower dropout rates for girls in secondary education, many challenges remain. Mexico concluded its remarks with a list of challenges it sought to address: strengthening law enforcement, efficient coordination of actors and resources, criminalizing femicide and applying protocols in a timely measure, creating a model for violence against women with an inter-cultural perspective (especially for indigenous citizens), creation of a federal labor law that provides equality between men and women, prohibition of harassment, workers rights, time schedules, constructing better telecommunication, obtaining greater sanctions for established legal violations, and improving legal representation for women.

During the discussion, CEDAW drew on many of these challenges. However, many of the main concerns related to federalism. Mexico’s thirty-one states have wide-ranging legal structures and CEDAW stressed that all local discriminatory legal policies in these states must be eliminated. Moreover, CEDAW made clear that regional implementation of the Convention was a national responsibility, not a state one. These concerns over localized discriminatory practices were similar to those expressed in the Committee’s recent review of Indonesia.

Furthermore, the Committee focused most of its attention on femicide, abduction of women, disappearances of women, and the killings and abuses of human-rights activists and journalists, as discriminatory practices. While Mexico spoke about national initiatives regarding femicide, CEDAW noted that mere enactment of laws was not enough, and more could be done to ensure for their implementation.

Moreover, distrust of the police force was a structural problem that was identified by the Committee. While Mexico recognized this problem, it also highlighted steps it is taking to address it, including the creation of systems to detain unlawful police officers, the training of police officers with a gender perspective, and the formation of a force to specialize in finding disappeared persons.

Finally, Mexico discussed the counseling services available to women in situations of violence. There are 284 support services around the country and they have served over 40,000 women since their creation. Mexico stated that its goal was to reach 100,000 women through these psycho-emotional support systems.

Overall, Mexico was the first state party report that went beyond the time period usually allocated for these reviews.  The head of the delegation was on point and reminded the delegation numerous times to answer the questions and not focus as much on background information that had already been submitted to CEDAW. Ultimately, Mexico was the state party review thus far that represented a conversation between the Committee and the delegation.  Considering the many challenges Mexico has to address, it is hopeful to see the positive attitude between the delegation and the Committee.

–          Henry Neuwirth

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