Cedaw is the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and its often described as an international bill of right for women

Consisting of a preamble of 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination to end women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination

The convention defines discrimination against women as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women irrespective of their marital status on a basis of equality of men and women of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field

By accepting the convention, states commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms including:

  • To incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discrimination laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women.
  • To establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination and
  • To ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organization or enterprise

The convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women’s equal access to and equal opportunities in political and public life including the right to vote to stand for election as well as education, health and employments.

State parties agree to take all appropriate measures including legislature and temporary special measures so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive right of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations.

It affirms women’s right to acquire change of retaining their nationality and the nationality of their children. State parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all form of traffic in women and exploitation of women.


CEDAW is significant in the international human rights framework because it is excessively devoted to gender equality

Here are a few reasons why C.E.D.A.W is important

  • It provides a complete definition of sex-based discrimination described as any exclusion, restriction or distinction on the ground of sex which intentionally or unintentionally impairs or nullifies the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of women’s social, cultural and political and economic rights.
  • CEDAW recognizes the root causes of discrimination including within culture. CEDAW recognizes that traditional gender roles and stereotypes have to be eliminated if we are to be successful in ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
  • The view of equality in CEDAW is based on the principle of substantive equality between men and women.
  • CEDAW holds in states parties which include the UK Government to account to respect, protect and fulfill women’s human right. It does by investigating and making recommendation to address gender inequality in all levels ­e.g family, community,  markets and states.


Under the convention of CEDAW Committee is mandated with two responsibilities . Consideration of the progress made in the implementation of the convention by the state parties is prescribed as the main work of the committee, the committee may also make suggestions and general recommendations .since its existence in 1981, the committee has been continuously modified its methods of work to fulfill its mandate

In recent years ,there have been some notable developments regarding the concluding comments issued by the committee after the constructive dialogue with the state party . the concluding comments increasingly contain a concern on the status of the convention vis-a-vis domestic legislation according to the principle of rights and gender equality and non-discrimination set forth in the convention is that it seems to  be the European union , rather than the CEDAW ,which exerts a stronger influence upon the legal framework or policies and programs for gender equality.

Regarding the constitutions or domestic legislation , the first concern of the committee is whether discrimination against women is clearly defined and prohibition is included in legislation . Non-existence of a clear definition of discrimination against women and prohibition of it is a reflection of low level of understanding or commitment to the issue of gender equality within the country, together with an increased probability for discriminatory law of course, the seemingly impeccable anti –discrimination at the national , regional and local community level and their effects are the interest of the committee.

The discriminatory tradition and culture , which are often manifested in the form of a gender role often stereotyping , is the most difficult issue to tackle . the report of the state party sometimes contain traditional systems or customs that are intended to be gender neutral but actually discriminatory to women .  


The optional protocol , is surely a very necessary long awaited addition to the convention . It provides two avenues in the protection of the women’s right set forth by the convention , the inquiry procedure . The optional protocol is now becoming  a real operating tool , although the number of cases submitted to the committee is  small .  A 5 man committee  working group have been set up  in its meetings before the regular sessions of the committee with the aim of discussing the individual complaint and proposes draft decision to the committee


The heightened visibility and increased awareness around CEDAW as a tool to protect and promote the human right of women are indeed the result of the continued efforts of women NGO at the committee meetings . Women’s NGO  are actively shadow reports and present their views at the session of the committee .Much recognition goes to the [international women’s right actions watch ] and IWRAW -Asia pacific , which is established to monitor the implementation of CEDAW . The presentation of the situation of the women at the grassroots level in each country under consideration provide the valuable information , which is often lacking or insufficient in the government reports . The participation of NGOS in the committee meetings increases state accountability and transparency in the reporting process , thus enhancing the domestic implementation of the convention 

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