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  • Leena M.G Osman


This week, Sudan’s Ministers Council ratified the UN 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The historical rejection of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), was largely due to the issue of cultural relativism and the desire to provide an Islamic solution in accordance with Sharia (Islamic law). As stated by Ex-President Omar al-Bashir after his re-election as President in 2001, parts of the treaty "contradicted Sudanese values and traditions."

Within that framework, the ratification of the CEDAW convention demonstrates a step in the right direction towards empowering women politically and economically in the Sudanese state and society.

Furthermore, this illuminates the integration of successful efforts of Sudanese women whose active involvement in fighting for democratic change in Sudan paved the way for the national endorsement of human rights and women’s rights principles.

With the aim of achieving the revolution’s goals of freedom, peace and justice, Sudanese women continue to diligently fight for the right of women to be equally appointed in all political and executive structures of government, as stipulated in the transitional constitution.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that certain reservations were made, particularly in regards to women having equal rights in marriage and divorce, as well as women being considered equal at all political and social levels.

Within that regard, many women rights groups and activists highly criticized aforementioned reservations, highlighting the irrefutable fact that placing reservations on three fundamental articles, including Article 2 which focuses on equality, contradicts the very nature and goal of the Convention.

Article 2 : stresses on required policy measures, highlighting that States must condemn discrimination against women in all its forms and hence must make laws and regulations, implement policies and change practices to eliminate discrimination against women.

Reservations were also placed on articles (1), (16) and (29) :

  • Article 1 : Defines discrimination against women as any distinction, exclusion or restriction that affects women's enjoyment of political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other rights on an equal basis with men.

  • Article 16 : Highlights the issue of marriage and family relations, asserting the equal rights and obligations of women and men with regard to choice of spouse, parenthood, personal rights and command over property.

  • Article 29 : Provides a mechanism for States to resolve inter-State disputes concerning the interpretation of application of the Convention.

Ihsan Fagiri, the chief of the initiative No for Women's Repression stressed that this approach demonstrates the unwillingness to allow women to have equal status with men in local legislations and subsequently lowers the ambitions and advancement of the Sudanese people.

*It must be stressed that this decision must still be approved by the Sovereign Council.


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