Leveraging international women’s rights to address gender-based violence

Why are we doing this research?

This three-year initiative led by International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP) and The George Institute for Global Health (TGI) will address the lack of systematic evidence on what drives the effectiveness of the recommendations made by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) at the periodic reviews conducted with the 189 States that have ratified the CEDAW Convention.

Key research questions will include:

  • What role do these reviews play in influencing States to act progressively to protect and fulfil women’s human rights and foster gender equality?
  • What spurs governments to enact and implement legislation, policies, and practices on gender equality that are backed by international norms and standards?
  • What drives national actors in government, in the judiciary, in State institutions, in private companies, in communities, and in households to comply with these national laws?

The initiative’s focus on gender-based violence (GBV) is simultaneously an entry point to developing evidence on the effectiveness and impact of the CEDAW Committee’s recommendations, and a way of addressing an intractable issue that impacts gender equality and equitable health outcomes for women.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the global crisis of violence against women due to persisting gender inequalities and patriarchal attitudes compounded by movement restrictions, loss of jobs and income, isolation, overcrowding, and stress and anxiety heightening women’s risk of harm. Immediate preventative and remedial action is needed to address these risks to women through legislation, health and social service provision, and access to justice.

How will the research be delivered?

The first stage will use pilot data from the CEDAW Implementation Map, which hosts legal data relating to the law, policy and programmes that have been implemented around the world to improve women’s health. Primary data sources of the Map are the publicly accessible reports submitted or produced by Member States or the CEDAW Committee as part of the periodic CEDAW review process, hosted by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Statistical analyses will be used to identify CEDAW Committee recommendations addressing GBV and the extent of their implementation.

The next stage will use policy mapping techniques to extract qualitative data on Committee recommendations and State actions from the CEDAW Implementation Map to develop a taxonomy of legal, policy, and programmatic innovations – essentially a map of existing and emerging CEDAW-aligned legal models.

These interventions will be analysed at three levels. Firstly, at the country level by State, region, subregion, income level, and humanitarian crisis status. Secondly, according to their core objective using the pre-existing categories within the CEDAW Implementation map: data collection, grassroots initiatives, health system strengthening, multi-sectoral collaboration, reservation removal, governance and coordination, establishing human rights infrastructure, women’s leadership and participation, access to justice, policy and strategy development, resource investment and allocation, and capacity building.

Finally, where relevant, each intervention will be coded on intersectionality – interventions explicitly designed to meet the needs of women of lower socioeconomic status, indigeneity, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, minority status, and age.

Who we are


  • Shanti Uprety
  • Nadia Mohd Rasidi


  • Dr Janani Shanthosh
  • Dr Devaki Nambiar