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Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

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What Is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women?

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. CEDAW is seen as an international bill of rights for women. CEDAW was written for two purposes:

What Is Discrimination against Women?

Discrimination against women is defined in the Convention as any distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex, which impairs the enjoyment or exercise by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. This extends to all areas of life, including the political, social, civil, economic, and cultural realms.

Are there Legal Responsibilities under the Convention?

Any state that accepts CEDAW must agree to take on a number of measures to end discrimination against women. This includes:

  • Establishing public institutions to ensure the protection of women against discrimination
  • Ensuring the elimination of discriminatory acts against women
  • Incorporating the principles of the equality of men and women in the legal system (including abolishing laws that discriminate against women and enacting laws that prohibit such discrimination)

What Else Does the Convention Guarantee?

CEDAW aims to ensure equal access to political and public life to women (i.e. the right to vote and to run for election). CEDAW also affirms women¿s reproductive rights and other women's rights pertaining to their children. States must also do what they can to prevent the trafficking of women.

Has the United States Signed on to CEDAW?

States that ratify CEDAW are bound to put its provisions into their own national laws. The United States has not ratified CEDAW. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed CEDAW, but action has been blocked in the Senate ever since.

Do I Need an Experienced International Law Attorney?

If CEDAW should ever become the law of the United States, an international law attorney would be able to explain to you the goals and provisions of the treaty. Also, if you should travel to or move to another industrialized country in the world, CEDAW may be the law.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 01-15-2014 11:53 AM PST

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