CEDAW and local culture: effectiveness in the field : case studies of Sierra Leone and Uganda

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Grivel, Daniele
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The analysis of the implementation of CEDAW in Uganda and Sierra Leone, as emphasized by the Country and Shadow Reports of the last decades, proves that these two Countries have not yet domesticated the women’s rights principles. I start then an analysis of the general effectiveness of CEDAW after more than 30 years from its entry into force. As a result of that, I argue that the strength of CEDAW resides in its capacity of persuading local cultures in order to eradicate harmful practices; compliance with international women’s rights must originate from the internal of the culture. Therefore, we must change the approach with the traditional culture. Culture must not be confused only with harmful practices. We must stop treating it as something hostile, immovable and with negative characteristics. It should be considered as a possible ally for the respect of women’s rights standards, a resource in removing harmful practices. To reach this ambitious objective, a localization of the norms of CEDAW is needed, together with the willingness to tailor the international principles to the local needs. Hence, resources already present in the traditional local cultures must be utilized. In Uganda and in Sierra Leone customary courts can represent a good starting point to relate with culture in a positive way.
Second semester University: New University of Lisbon.
Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, women, Sierra Leone, Uganda