Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. CEDAW is considered a landmark instrument in promoting and protecting women’s rights and gender equality.
CEDAW is often described as an international bill of rights for women. It defines discrimination against women and sets forth a comprehensive framework to address and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in both the public and private spheres. The convention recognizes that discrimination against women is a violation of human rights and an obstacle to social progress.
Key provisions of CEDAW include:
- Definition of discrimination: CEDAW defines discrimination against women as any distinction, exclusion, or restriction based on sex that impairs or nullifies the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- Equality and non-discrimination: The convention establishes the principle of gender equality and calls on states to take measures to eliminate discrimination against women and ensure their equal rights and opportunities in political, economic, social, cultural, and civil spheres.
- Legal protection and access to justice: CEDAW requires states to take measures to ensure that women have equal access to justice, legal remedies, and protection against gender-based violence, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, and trafficking.
- Political participation and representation: The convention recognizes women’s right to participate in political and public life, including the right to vote and hold public office. It calls for measures to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions.
- Elimination of stereotypes and harmful practices: CEDAW emphasizes the need to eliminate stereotypes, prejudices, and harmful practices that perpetuate discrimination against women and undermine their human rights and dignity.
- Education and employment: The convention calls for measures to ensure equal access to education and employment opportunities for women. It recognizes the importance of eliminating gender-based discrimination in these areas.
CEDAW establishes a monitoring body known as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. States that have ratified CEDAW are obligated to submit regular reports to the committee on their progress in implementing the convention. The committee reviews these reports, provides guidance, and makes recommendations to help states fulfill their obligations under CEDAW.
CEDAW has been ratified by a large number of countries, making it one of the most widely accepted human rights treaties. It has played a significant role in advancing gender equality and women’s rights worldwide, providing a framework for legislation, policy development, and advocacy to address gender-based discrimination and promote women’s empowerment.