14.06.2021, CEDAW shadow report: Swiss civil society criticises the implementation of the UN women's rights treaty

With the adoption of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1997, Switzerland undertook to remove discrimination against women in all areas of life and to promote legal and actual gender equality. This explicitly includes the active promotion of disadvantaged groups until equality is achieved. Our demands show that there is still much need for action.

CEDAW obliges Switzerland to regularly document and review progress and gaps in gender equality. In a four-year cycle, states report to the UN CEDAW Committee on the status of implementation of the Convention in their own country, including the implementation of recommendations received from the Committee. Switzerland submitted its 6th State Report at the end of November 2020. The umbrella organisation NGO Coordination post Beijing Switzerland has published a civil society shadow report with the cooperation of its 35 members and other experts. It is a critique of the State Report.

The experts examine whether Switzerland is complying with its commitments, implementing recommendations, or violating obligations, and at the same time state demands in their report. The shadow report highlights gaps in the State Report, points out where the state and civil society diverge, and complements these with civil society’s observations and demands.

Civil society’s demands

The current shadow report shows the status quo in the following areas: discrimination against women in all spheres of life, gender stereotypes and gender-based violence. The report also points to shortcomings in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on "Women, Peace and Security" and the Istanbul Convention.

Violence and discrimination against women persist in Switzerland, be it in the workplace, in the family, in the media, in asylum centres or in education. Some demands have been on the table for decades, such as those for equal pay for equal work, adequate representation in politics and business, especially in decision-making positions, or a fairer distribution, payment and recognition of care work.

Others refer to subtle social mechanisms that produce gender stereotypes and thus assign or deny women certain places in society, ascribe roles to them or expect them to speak, act and look a particular way.

Other demands relate to an area that is particularly harrowing and has revealed new facets in recent years: gender-based violence. This ranges from sexual harassment in almost all areas of life, to domestic violence and internet violence, to rape, sexual exploitation and femicide. According to available statistics, two women are killed every month in Switzerland, mostly within a family context.  

Overall, gender equality has suffered a setback in very many areas due to the Covid-19 crisis, and discrimination and violence have increased. CEDAW is and remains an important instrument for taking action against these develpments, also in Switzerland.

Read the civil society shadow report here.

CEDAW Shadow Report 2021 2.47 MB, PDF

The 6th State Report is available here (German and French only). 

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