Text of the Convention
Other UN Conventions on Women
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the
UN General Assembly, is often described as an international
bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble
and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against 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 the 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 discriminatory
laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination
- to establish tribunals and other public institutions
to ensure the effective protection of women against
- to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination
against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.
The Committee celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary on the opening day of its thirty-ninth session - Monday, 23 July 2007, 11.15 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 3, UNHQ, New York.
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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 and
to stand for election -- as well as education, health
and employment. States parties agree to take
all appropriate measures, including legislation
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 rights of women and targets
culture and tradition as influential forces shaping
gender roles and family relations. It affirms
women's rights to acquire, change or retain their
nationality and the nationality of their children.
States parties also agree to take appropriate measures
against all forms of traffic in women and exploitation
Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention
are legally bound to put its provisions into practice.
They are also committed to submit national reports,
at least every four years, on measures they have
taken to comply with their treaty obligations.