Optional Protocol to the Convention on the elimination of all forms ofdiscrimination against women

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The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international legal instrument that complements the main treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 6, 1999, and entered into force on December 22, 2000.

The Optional Protocol provides an avenue for individual women or groups of women to bring complaints (communications) to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) after they have exhausted all available domestic remedies. It allows women to seek redress for violations of their rights under the Convention by States parties to the Optional Protocol.

Some key features of the Optional Protocol include:

  1. Individual Communications: The Optional Protocol allows women to submit complaints to the CEDAW Committee if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated by a State party to the Optional Protocol. The complaint can be submitted by the individual woman or on behalf of a group of women.
  2. Inquiry Procedure: The CEDAW Committee has the power to initiate an inquiry into “grave or systematic” violations of women’s rights in a State party, even in the absence of a complaint. This allows the Committee to address widespread human rights abuses against women.
  3. Committee’s Views: If the CEDAW Committee finds that a violation of women’s rights has occurred, it provides its views and recommendations to the State party concerned. The State party is then expected to take appropriate measures to remedy the situation and report back to the Committee on the actions taken.
  4. Interim Measures: The Committee may request that a State party take interim measures to prevent irreparable harm to the victim(s) of the alleged violation during the consideration of the complaint.

The Optional Protocol enhances the effectiveness of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women by providing an international mechanism for addressing violations of women’s rights. It strengthens the accountability of States parties and contributes to the promotion and protection of gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.

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