Faces of Open Government - Shyamala Gomez

Shyamala Gomez is the Executive Director at the Centre for Equality and Justice.

How have gender commitments in Sri Lanka’s action plans contributed to inclusion and gender equality?

Sri Lanka’s first OGP national action plan had two commitments on women. One commitment dealt with reform of land laws so that women are not discriminated against in-state land allocation and the need for women’s participation in the process of law reform. The same commitment also called for reform of the Muslim personal laws that discriminate against Muslim women through consultations with Muslim women, thereby including them in the process of law reform. Another component of the commitment related to discrimination against women in the formal and informal labour sectors. The aim of the commitment was to have a transparent and accountable process in the implementation of selected CEDAW Concluding Observations. The second commitment on women called for strengthening women’s participation in political decision making at the local level.

The women commitment in Sri Lanka’s second national action plan specifically includes female heads of households (FHHs) and the need to ensure full implementation of the FHHs national action plan. This deliberate inclusion of FHHs in the national action plan is to encourage the government and civil society to include this marginalized group in the design of national and local level initiatives. The women commitments in the first and second national action plans intrinsically contribute to gender equality through their focus on CEDAW Concluding Observations and the need for an accountable and transparent process to their implementation.

The implementation of the women commitment in the second national action plan needs to be systematically carried out in order to assess whether inclusion of a gender commitment in the national action plan has effectively contributed to inclusion and gender equality.

Why is it important to include gender perspectives or new groups in the process of co-creation?

As civil society, we need to keep reminding our government counterparts that such groups exist. It is also important to keep reminding ourselves as civil society that the principles of OGP impact everyone, including marginalized communities, such as women and sexual minorities. Gender must also necessarily be a cross-cutting issue in other commitments in the co-creation of national action plans. Additionally, a separate commitment on women in an OGP national action plan would be a constant reminder to government officials and civil society that women need to be taken into consideration in the making of national action plans. Additionally, disability should be cross-cutting. OGP principles cut across these groups and must influence the implementation of national action plans that incorporate the concerns of these marginalized groups. The process of co-creation and inclusion of gender in this process would also impact positively on other national action plan making processes by giving visibility to gender.

How can OGP be used as an implementation mechanism for SDG5 and pledges made under platforms like CEDAW?

OGP principles run like a thread through the SDGs and articles in CEDAW. For example, open data portals are a useful means of accessing data to monitor implementation of the SDGs, especially the promotion of gender equality, in order to track the achievement of indicators under SDG5 and other SDGs. OGP can also be a useful implementation mechanism to track implementation of CEDAW Concluding Observations by states that have ratified the Convention. For example, OGP principles of transparency, accountability and civic participation are important processes that bring in women’s voices to law and policy reform commitments made under CEDAW by member states. Successful implementation also requires that civil society organizations have access to necessary data. Additionally, civic participation, a cornerstone of OGP, is critical for bringing about reform to discriminatory laws and policies against women. Women’s participation in these processes promotes good governance, democracy and adherence to the rule of law and provides women with a platform to voice their opinions and participate in decision making at national and policy levels.

Authors: OGP Support Unit
Filed Under: Champions