The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Convention entered into force on 3 September 1981.
The Convention is a landmark legally binding international agreement that is often described as the international bill of rights for women. It establishes the foundation for realizing equality between women and men in public life, education, health, employment, legal status, and in the family. Countries that have ratified this convention have an obligation to take measures to end all forms of discrimination against women by integrating the principle of equality between men and women into their legal systems, providing effective protection against discrimination in all areas of life, and eliminating discrimination against women by individuals, businesses, and organizations.
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.”
We encourage you to use this document in human rights education and advocacy to promote and protect the rights of women in your community and around the world.
To learn more about CEDAW and women’s human rights issues, please consult the website of International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) , an affiliate program of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center.
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