Malaysian Women’s Human Rights Report 2010/11
New Pb 386 pp.Subject:
Gender & SexualityCondition:
Equality Under Construction: Malaysian Women’s Human Rights Report 2010/11 is a remarkable book. Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Againts Women (CEDAW). The essays take the reader on a journey through the policy process, beginning with ratifying the United Nations convention. The essays demonstraten what a remarkable document CEDAW is. It has motivated policies to end gender discrimination, facilitated discussions about the relationship between and equality, and provided a context for addressing newly-emerging issues, such as gender identity and women refugees. The essays on employment, family law, and transgenders address each policy within its own context. The writers capture the uniqueness of each issue and its target populations, providing readers with new insights and a deeper appreciation of the policy-making process. The fact-filled essays raise serious, complex questions, such as, do policies that end gender-based inequalities improve the lives of marginalised or impoverished women? Why should CEDAW apply to transgender?
To meet CEDAW’s requirements, Malaysia’s policy-makers had to identify policies and practices that discriminate against women and craft appropriate policies. The essays examine the effectiveness of existing policies and identify continuing gaps in equality. CEDAW’s key challenge is not to eliminate some discrimination, but all forms of discrimination to advance equality. The authors describe policy-making as a continuous process, with policy-makers and advocates learning as policies are adpted. Some may not be implemented; others will not survive court challenges; others will be ineffective. Reading the essays may be demanding. While each essay covers the same points (what is required, what has been done, and what gaps exist), each tells the story of the challenges and concerns unique to each policy. Each author provides specific recommendations to bring Malaysia in line with CEDAW, UDHR and other international human rights documents. The authors do not present a check-off list of what must be done. Rather, they give the reader the insights and tools to participate in designing and assessing policy. The essays serve as a challenge to Malaysia’s government and its civil society to end “all forms of gender discrimination”. The readers may build on their insights to engage in critical policy discussions, which will serve as models for effective policy making and advocacy. – Elizabethann “Liz” O’Sullivan, PhD, North Carolina State University
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