Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Twentieth Anniversary

CEDAW Information Note 2

 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an expert body established in 1982, is composed of 23 experts on women's issues from around the world.

The Committee's mandate is very specific: it watches over the progress for women made in those countries that are the States parties to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. A country becomes a State party by ratifying or acceding to the Convention and thereby accepting a legal obligation to counteract discrimination against women. The Committee monitors the implementation of national measures to fulfil this obligation.

At its meetings held twice annually, the Committee reviews national reports submitted by the States parties within one year of ratification or accession, and thereafter every four years. These reports, which cover national action taken to improve the situation of women, are presented to the Committee by Government representatives. In discussions with these officials, the CEDAW experts can comment on the report and obtain additional information. This procedure of actual dialogue, developed by the Committee, has proven valuable because it allows for an exchange of views and a clearer analysis of anti-discrimination policies in the various countries.

The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention. For example, at the 1989 session, the Committee discussed the high incidence of violence against women, requesting information on this problem from all countries. In 1992, the Committee adopted on general recommendation 19, which requires national reports to the Committee to include statistical data on the incidence of violence against women, information on the provision of services for victims, and legislative and other measures taken to protect women against violence in their everyday lives C such as harassment at the workplace, abuse in the family and sexual violence. As of May 1999, the Committee has made 24 general recommendations.


CEDAW membership

The 23 members of CEDAW, acknowledged as experts "of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention", are elected by the States parties. These elections have to meet the Convention's demands for equitable geographical distribution in membership and the requirement that CEDAW members represent "different forms of civilization as well as principal legal systems". Their terms last four years, with only half of the Committee members replaced each time elections take place. The meeting of States parties is convened every other year by the Secretary-General at UN Headquarters in New York.

The CEDAW experts in 1999 are:

- Ms. Charlotte Abaka (Ghana), a member of the National Council on Women and Development in Ghana and Chairperson of the National Subcommittee on the CEDAW Convention. She is also a dental practitioner.

- Ms. Ayse Feride Acar (Turkey), Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the Middle East Technical University. She is also Chairperson of the Gender and Women's Studies Programme of the Institute of Social Sciences at that University.

- Ms. Emna Aouij (Tunisia), a judge in the Court of Cassation since 1989. She was the first woman judge in her country, and was a founder and coordinator of a Tunisian women's network established to prepare for the Beijing Conference.

- Ms. Carlota Bustelo García del Real (Spain), Chairperson of the Foundation "Mujeres" and a member since 1992 of the Spanish Social and Economic Council. From 1977 to 1979, she was a member of the Spanish Parliament; and from 1983 to 1988, she was the first Director-General of the Women's Institute.

- Ms. Silvia Rose Cartwright (New Zealand), a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand since 1993, and the first woman to hold such a post. In 1993, she was the Convenor of the International Conference of Women Judges, held to mark the centennial of women's suffrage in New Zealand.

- Ms. Ivanka Corti (Italy), a member of the Italian Prime Minister's Commission for Human Rights since 1996.

- Ms. Feng Cui (China), a member of the Secretariat of the International Liaison Department of the All-China Women's Federation. She is Deputy Director of the General Office of the State Council Working Committee on Women and Children.

- Ms. Naela Gabr (Egypt), Deputy Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Social Affairs of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1992.

- Ms. Yolanda Ferrer Gómez (Cuba), General Secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women since 1990. She represents Cuba at the Commission on the Status of Women and ECLAC.

- Ms. Aida González Martinez (Mexico), Coordinator for Women's Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1993, and Adviser to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs since 1990. She has been an Ambassador since 1978.

-Ms. Savitri Goonesekere (Sri Lanka), Vice Chancellor of Law at the University of Colombo. She has undertaken consultancies for UNICEF, ILO, ESCAP and various Sri Lankan agencies.

- Ms. Rosalyn Hazelle (St. Kitts and Nevis), Director of Women's Affairs of the Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs.

- Ms. Salma Khan (Bangladesh), Director-General of the Bangladesh Management Development Centre. She was the Divisional Chief Economist of the Ministry of Planning from 1993 to 1994.

- Ms. Yung-Chung Kim (Republic of Korea), Vice-President of the National Red Cross since 1992, and Adviser to the Board of Unification. She has served as State Minister for Political Affairs in charge of women's affairs.

- Ms. Rosario Manalo (Philippines), the Under-Secretary for International Economic Relations, and senior officials meeting leader for the Philippines in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). She is the Foreign Office Coordinator on Gender and Development.

- Ms. Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (South Africa), Member of Parliament since 1994. She has served on the Gender Advisory Committee of the Coalition for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and was one of its three chairpersons. She is a founding member of the Women's National Coalition.

- Ms. Ahoua Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Adviser on Social Affairs. She specializes in gender and development, adult education, community development and the design of development strategies.

- Ms. Zelmira Regazzoli (Argentina), Under-Secretary for Human Rights and Women's Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Worship and International Trade since 1989. She is also an Ambassador.

- Ms. Anne Lise Ryel (Norway), Norway's Gender Equality Ombudsman since 1994. She is a lawyer, and from 1993 to 1995 was Head of the Board of the Association of Norwegian Lawyers.

- Ms. Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling (Germany), Director of AFS Interkulturelle Begegnungen. From 1987 to 1992, she was Head of the Directorate General on Women's Affairs at the Federal Ministry for Youth, Family Affairs, Women and Health.

- Ms. Carmel Shalev (Israel), Legal Adviser in the Israel Ministry of Health, and Adjunct Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University.

-Ms. Kongit Sinegiorgis (Ethiopia), who has held various posts in the foreign service since 1962, is the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the Organization of African Unity and the Ambassador of Ethiopia to Egypt.

-Ms. Chikako Taya (Japan), a Public Prosecutor of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor's Office. She is also a Professor at the Graduate School of International Cooperation at Kobe University.

(Source: UN Division for the Advancement for Women)

Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information C DPI/2049 C May 1999