On Jan. 22 York”s Marilou McPhedran (left), executive coordinator of the National Network on Environments & Women’s Health, headed to the United Nations as representative of a York project. She was there on behalf of the University’s International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), which she began when she arrived here in 1998. Her attendance at the UN and the delivery of an IWRP report mark the culmination of the project.
“The IWRP commissioned a strategy paper from Shelagh Day [director of the Poverty and Human Rights Project, and a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives]. In 1998 we convened the first Canadian meeting of NGOs, government officials and scholars to look exclusively at the CEDAW, the UN ‘women”s convention’, with financial support from Status of Women Canada and participation by women parliamentarians,” said McPhedran, talking about the early days of the IWRP.
“The York IWRP also hosted at Osgoode Hall Law School the founding of the Canadian Coalition for Afghan Women in 2000. It received grants from the Maytree Foundation and from CIDA to develop leadership and governance training in partnership with the Afghan Women”s Organization [AWO] and women parliamentarians.”
Recently at the UN headquarters, McPhedran joined the executive director of the AWO, Adeena Nazi and one of the young women leaders from the AWO, Asma Ibrahim, for the current review of Canada”s report to the UN on its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“We NGO representatives plan to meet with members of the UN CEDAW Committee, which is the UN monitoring committee for CEDAW, one of the six major human rights treaties at the UN. Then Canada is going to make its official report all day Thursday [Jan. 23] to the CEDAW Committee,” said McPhedran prior to her departure.
The International Women”s Rights Project was founded in 1998 to strengthen the capacity of women”s NGOs and to influence the implementation of international human rights standards, to the benefit of women, through research and evidence-based advocacy. The project has been based at the York University Centre for Feminist Research, under the leadership of Marilou McPhedran, and associates who work on a range of NGO-connected ventures.