Natasha Stott Despoja’s CEDAW campaign goes virtual

Natasha Stott Despoja’s CEDAW campaign goes virtual

Office for Women International Forums Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Natasha Stott Despoja AO, Australia’s Candidate on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

Natasha Stott Despoja AO’s campaign for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has had to take a different approach, following COVID-19.

Before the COVID-19 lock-down, Natasha hit the ground running, travelling to New York to commence her campaign. She attended 40 meetings with delegates from UN Member States in just three days.

As countries began closing their borders, Natasha returned to Australia. Always one to meet a challenge head-on, Natasha used her 14-day period of self-isolation to plan, with the Office for Women’s support, how she could conduct an international campaign from the confines of her home in Adelaide, South Australia.

Since then Natasha has become a Zoom-master, completing over 50 virtual bilateral meetings, attending a number of virtual events and conducting many phone calls and media interviews to continue engagement in the lead up to the CEDAW election in September 2020.

A typical day for Natasha now sees her logging onto Zoom before dawn so she can meet with New York-based diplomats from various UN Member States around the world, to highlight her credentials and discuss her priorities if elected to CEDAW.

Natasha is also the Chair of Australia’s national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children, OurWatch, a Director of Global Citizen, and a member of the Australian National University Council, among her many roles.

After an open and merit-based process, which was widely commended by civil society and UN Member States, Natasha was selected to be Australia’s candidate for CEDAW by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne. Candidates are nominated by their Government but if elected serve as individual experts.

If elected, Natasha would be the first Australian in nearly three decades to sit on the Committee, since the Honourable Elizabeth Evatt AC—the first woman to serve as a federal judge was Australia’s only member of the CEDAW Committee serving from 1984 to 1992, including as Chair in 1989 and 1990.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is instrumental in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

‘It’s really important for Australia and our region to be reflected and represented on this Committee,’ Natasha said.

‘It’s a powerful tool. It’s resulted in legislative and policy change all over the world. It gives guidance to States Parties and hopefully will result in a world in which men and women are more equal.’

Natasha’s CEDAW candidacy demonstrates Australia’s commitment to eliminating discrimination against women and girls in Australia, the Indo-Pacific region, and globally. Her lifelong commitment to gender equality would make her an excellent choice for CEDAW.

‘We still have a long way to go, and the Committee will play a crucial role in furthering this work. Work that I would love to contribute to.’

The CEDAW election will take place in the first week of September 2020.

More information is available at Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.