Advocating for systemic changes towards non-discrimination and protection of human rights of women with the emphasis on reproductive rights and employment discrimination of women

From November 2014 till December 2015, we were implementing the project Advocating for Systemic Changes towards Non-discrimination and Protection of Human Rights of Women with the Emphasis on Reproductive Rights and Employment Discrimination of Women. The project was supported by Open Society Foundation (New York), within its program Human Rights Initiative 2014. The project comprised advocacy activities aiming to systemic changes towards non-discrimination and protection of human rights of women mainly in the field of reproductive rights of women and partly also in the field of employment discrimination. All of the activities were a continuation of CDA´s long-lasting efforts in the field. The project was a direct continuation of an OSI-funded project in 2013-2014 on the same issues, with additions and modifications necessitated by the findings and outcomes of that previous project.

Most of the attention was devoted to reproductive rights of women, in particular to the right of women to access modern contraceptives, and to the right of women to respectful treatment at childbirth. In the field of employment discrimination, we continued litigating 2 cases of discrimination of women in employment (in both of the cases also with regard to job termination, but also with to other aspects of employment) that had been continuously supported by OSI in the last few years. Both of the cases were pending at the time of submitting this project. Issues central to both of the cases were remedies and their effectiveness (including the granting financial compensation for discrimination, which is currently regulated very narrowly by legislation, with judicial interpretation being even narrower). The issue of remedies, as well as some other systemic issues (mainly institutional and procedural), also were a thematic subject of the project. These went, however, beyond the field of employment – because the Anti-discrimination act and some other acts regulating equality and non-discrimination are universal in material scope, and so encompass both the field of employment and other fields, including the field of health and reproductive rights.

The strategic focus of the project was systemic changes in the thematic fields of the project. Various advocacy and accompanying tools and approaches were used, in particular monitoring and data collection, commenting on legislative bills and public policy documents, influencing legislation, policies and the public discourse through participation in the governmental advisory human rights bodies, communication with stakeholders and decision-makers, with media and with the public, communication with existing and new partners abroad, shadow reporting to the CEDAW Committee (which was due in 2015), and strategic litigation.

Many of the activitiesare carried out in partnerships with other NGOs. In the field of reproductive rights, one of the long-term strategic partners of CDA is the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) in joint cooperation with whom CDA has been carrying out many of its activities in the field of reproductive rights, including all activities relating to access to contraceptives that had been carried out under the 2013-2014 OSF-funded project and previously (relating to both international and national advocacy). In the field of protection of rights of women at childbirth, the main informal partner of CDA is a grassroot NGO based in Slovakia called Women´s Circles, dealing with many issues relating to childbirth from women´s perspective. In the field of rights connected to childbirth, we also seek partners abroad – since their experience and in many instances also expertise (mainly health/medically-related) is important for CDA when promoting childbirth-related rights at national level. CDA is also constantly cooperating with other women´s rights NGOs in Slovakia. This encompasses mainly informal cooperation in ad hoc advocacy activities.

Project activities:

  • Monitoring of the situation in the fields covered by the project, with a special focus on monitoring of violations of human rights of women connected to childbirth and the systemic causes for them
  • Advocacy activities in the field of legislation, policy-making and institutional practice in the thematic fields covered by the project
  • Drafting shadow report to the CEDAW Committee and carrying out corresponding activities
  • Roundtable on the findings and outcomes of the project, key challenges and recommendations identified by it, and for launching the monitoring and analytical report on systemic causes for disrespectful treatment of women at childbirth
  • Identifying foreign partners and allies active in the field of protecting the rights of women connected to childbirth and informal communication and cooperation with them
  • Developing communication strategy and carrying out media communication
  • Strategic litigation in cases of discrimination of women in employment