Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)


The United Nations General Assembly passed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into international law in 1979. As it aspires to advance and defend women’s rights and end all forms of discrimination against women, it is frequently referred to as the international bill of rights for women.

The 30 paragraphs that make up CEDAW’s preamble include a wide range of topics pertaining to women’s rights and gender equality. The convention’s essential features include:

  1. The definition of discrimination against women: CEDAW is any sex-based differentiation, exclusion, or restriction that prevents or lessens the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of women’s fundamental rights and human freedoms.
  2. Obligations for state parties: CEDAW to take specific actions to end discrimination against women in all facets of life, including the political, economic, social, cultural, civic, and family spheres.
  3. Legal and administrative measures: State parties are urged to adopt legal and administrative measures, such as revising discriminatory laws and policies, to protect women’s rights and equality.
  4. Affirmative action: CEDAW acknowledges that transient special measures might be required to hasten gender equality and enable the advancement of women in some fields where they are underrepresented or disadvantaged.
  5. Combating stereotypes: The convention advocates for action to combat negative stereotypes and prejudices against women and to advance positive representations of women in the media and in the classroom.
  6. Violence against women: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) deals with this issue and obliges state parties to take sensible steps to avoid and combat it, to protect victims, and to offer support services.
  7. Exploitation and trafficking: The agreement also addresses the problem of trafficking in women and young girls, with the goal of preventing and punishing such actions.

CEDAW was one of the most generally ratified human rights accords as of my most recent update in September 2021, when it had been ratified by practically all United Nation members. However, how its rules are put into practice and enforced varies from one nation to the next. Civil society and non-governmental groups are essential to observing and promoting the application of CEDAW’s principles.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

A group of impartial specialists was formed as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) to oversee the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The committee is essential to the global advancement and defense of women’s rights.

The CEDAW Committee’s primary duties include:
  • Examining State Reports: States that have ratified the CEDAW treaty are obligated to submit regular reports on the steps they have taken to put the provisions of the convention into practice. In order to evaluate the advancements made and the difficulties encountered in achieving gender equality, the committee looks over these reports and has a fruitful discussion with the state representatives.
  • General Recommendations: The committee offers general recommendations that give states parties direction on particular CEDAW convention articles or themes. These suggestions support governments in creating effective policies to advance gender equality by helping to clarify and deepen understanding of the convention’s requirements.
  • Investigations and Urgent Actions: Even if a nation has not joined the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, the committee may begin investigations into serious or persistent abuses of women’s rights there. In order to remedy current or impending human rights breaches, it can also issue urgent actions.
  • Optional Protocol: After exhausting all domestic remedies, individuals or groups may file complaints alleging infringement of women’s rights under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, which is overseen by the CEDAW Committee. The committee examines these grievances and might offer suggestions for resolving the issues.
  • Closing Observations: Following examination of a state’s report, the committee makes closing observations that highlight achievements and suggest areas for improvement. States are encouraged to consider these suggestions while working to improve gender equality.
  • Discussions with NGOs: The CEDAW Committee holds discussions with NGOs that are knowledgeable about women’s rights and gender equality. In order to augment the official state reports, NGOs are permitted to submit shadow reports, alternative reports, and take part in pre-session consultations.

The CEDAW Committee’s efforts are essential for ensuring that nations uphold their promises to advance and defend women’s rights and to effectively carry out the CEDAW treaty. The committee significantly contributes to the advancement of gender equality and the global abolition of discrimination against women by tracking and evaluating progress.


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