Women Defenders Use CEDAW To Pressure Mexican Government


Margarita Martinez is one of the six WHRD who travelled to New York in July to meet with the 52nd Session of the CEDAW Committee. The WHRD, and JASS’ Marusia Lopez, presented a shadow report released by the National WHRD Network in Mexico, which confirms that within Latin America, Mexico ranks first in attacks against journalists and second in attacks against women defenders. Following their presentation, and those of other women’s groups, Committee experts questioned the Mexican government about the increased violence faced by women defenders and journalists and the lack of protection they are given.

The bigger delegation of more than 20 women activists, representing more than 113 organizations from Mexico from diverse women’s movements (auto-named CEDAW Ciudadanas,) shared 12 shadow reports and presented a united front of Mexican women’s voices to the Committee during two conversations. The first, a closed roundtable discussion between all civil society organizations from Mexico and the Committee of experts, gave rise to an open dialogue which highlighted the significant failure of the Mexican government to protect women, women defenders, journalists and women’s rights as a whole in response to unprecedented levels of violence committed against them with impunity.

During the second moment - a public yet informal space - 5 women representing NGOs from Mexico spoke to the key topics most concerning women activists in Mexico: femicide, reversal of sexual and reproductive rights, violence against WHRD and women journalists, the cases of Atenco and Ciudad Juarez, lack of protection for domestic workers, trafficking of women, and others. One of the most powerful moments of this space was when WHRD from Chiapas, Margarita Martinez gave an oral declaration on the situation of violence against WHRD and women journalists: "Violence against women human rights defenders and women journalists reinforces and feeds a climate of discrimination and puts democracy at risk. The Mexican government's simulation is having a deadly effect on the lives of women whose struggles are fundamental to ensure equality."

Women Defenders use CEDAW to Pressure Mexican GovernmentFollowing the days of presentations and conversations with Mexican civil society groups, the government of Mexico gave their presentation to the CEDAW Committee. During 6 hours of questions by the Committee, the Mexican government failed to give adequate responses, including to comments and questions raised by WHRD and women journalists and referencing the specific situation of Margarita Martinez. The Committee gave clear signals that this issue is a top priority, including Committee Expert and Mexico’s rapporteur, Soledad Murillo de la Vega from Spain, who pressed the Mexican government to prioritize the prosecution of aggressors of violence against women and women activists as a key protection measure.

The National WHRD Network in Mexico had a number of concrete recommendations, including: "In light of this situation, we request that the CEDAW Committee consider undertaking an investigation into the violence against women human rights defenders and women journalists and request that the Committee make specific recommendations to the Mexican government to fight impunity and guarantee protection of women journalists and human rights defenders, incorporating a gender perspective."

Alongside CEDAW engagement, the delegation, together with representatives from Samoa, New Zealand and the Bahamas, participated in 3-day workshop hosted by International Women’s Rights Action Watch – Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) and facilitated by women’s rights experts Martha Morgan and JASS’ Alda Facio, on the structure of the CEDAW, the importance of the Optional Protocol and how to engage with the Committee during the 52nd Session.

This delegation and the shadow report was coordinated and produced by the National WHRD Network in Mexico, Red Mesa de Mujeres Ciudad Juárez, Consorcio Oaxaca, Margarita Martinez and JASS (Just Associates).

Shadow Report in Spanish

Executive Summary of Shadow Report in English and Spanish

Read the Concluding Observations given to the Mexican government by the 52nd Session of the CEDAW Committee. More information in Spanish on the Concluding Observations - Nota Informativa.

*The shadow report on WHRD and journalists and the group led by JASS and the National WHRD Network in Mexico were convened by the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IM-Defensoras).

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