A two-day regional consultation on Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was organised by the National Alliance for Women (NAWO) and the Womens Resource and Advocacy Centre in the Panjab University premises on Friday and Saturday.
The consultation was held in order to prepare the shadow report to help with preparing the fourth and fifth government report on CEDAW. The seminar was attended by various academics and NGO workers from the region,from states like Jammu and Kashmir,Himachal Pradesh,Punjab,Haryana and Chandigarh. Various sessions were held related to education,gender-based violence,discrimination and marginalisation of Dalit women,NRI marriages and the like.
Speaking on the occasion,Dr Poonam Dhawan,Director,Department of Lifelong Learning and Department of Womens Studies,Jammu University,said,There are various rights that come under the purview of right to life,which are not granted to the suffering women of Jammu and Kashmir. She mentioned that there are various sources of violence in a conflict situation as is present in parts of Jammu and Kashmir,and the worst sufferers are women. Women are directly affected by the militancy in Kashmir. Many women in Kashmir are said to be half-widows and suffer a massive identity crunch. Dr Dhawan explained that there is a large number of wives of missing militants who suffer the indifference of society. They know that their husbands have died but their bodies have not been found,thereby forcing the women to lead the lives of half-widows. Dhawan also spoke about the high rate of divorce which has emerged from the increasing number of forced cross-cultural marriages and large scale migration. According to data provided by family courts,there is a 35 percent rise in such divorce cases and four out of seven districts of Jammu have witnessed mass migration.
Shruti Shourie,Assistant Professor of Psychology,DAV College,Chandigarh,spoke about the discrimination,violence and marginalisation faced by Dalit women. She mentioned the miserable condition of Dalit women in the society with special mention of those who are still involved in manual scavenging.
India signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on July 30,1980 and ratified it on July 9,1993.