New York, 18 December 1979
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women is the most comprehensive treaty on women's human rights, establishing
legally binding obligations to end discrimination. Often described as the
international bill of rights for women, the Convention provides for equality
between women and men in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social
and cultural rights. Discrimination against women is to be eliminated through
legal, policy and programmatic measures and through temporary special measures
to accelerate women's equality, which are defined as non-discriminatory.
States parties are required to end all forms of discrimination against
women and to ensure their equality with men in political and public life
with regard to nationality, education, employment, health and economic
and social benefits. Obligations are also imposed to eliminate discrimination
against women in marriage and family life and to ensure that women and
men are treated equally before the law. States are required to take account
of the particular problems of women in rural areas, and their special roles
in the economic survival of the family.
The Convention is the only human rights treaty to affirm the reproductive
rights of women. In addition, it obliges States parties to modify the social
and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women in order to eliminate
prejudices and customs and all other practices which are based on the idea
of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped
roles for men and women.
The Convention establishes a monitoring body - the Committee on the Elimination
of Discrimination against Women - which comprises 23 independent experts.
The Committee is mandated to consider reports from States parties and to
make suggestions and general recommendations based on these reports. The
Committee directs its suggestions to the United Nations system and its
general recommendations to States parties. As of May 2000, the Committee
had adopted 24 general recommendations, including recommendations on female
circumcision, on violence against women, and on women and health.
|Entry into force: 3 September 1981
Status as at 15 June 2000: Signatories: 97 Contracting Parties: 165