UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

The Convention

CEDAW is the international human rights treaty that focuses specifically on equality between women and men in all areas of life. It defines discrimination against women on a universal basis, forming an important bill of rights for women worldwide. 186 countries, including the UK, have become state parties to CEDAW. These parties have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil womens human rights.

Discrimination against women is defined 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.

The full convention is available from the UN website.

More information on the obligations of state parties under CEDAW and what each article of the convention contains is available from the Unifem site.

Submission to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (July 2013)

The Commission has published its submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) ahead of an oral examination on July 17 2013, which will look at the UK’s progress on women’s equality.

In its submission the Commission, as a national human rights institution, identifies key issues it believes should be highlighted as actions following the examination and sets out a number of questions the Committee may wish to put to the Government.

Download a copy of the submission and the appendix

 Find out more about the UK's previous submissions to CEDAW

Following the CEDAW Committee’s examination of the UK at its 55th session, the Concluding Observations were published in July 2013 and can be found on the United Nations website..

The Optional Protocol

CEDAW's Optional Protocol gives individuals and groups of women the right to complain to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (also CEDAW) about violations of the Convention. It also allows the Committee to investigate potentially serious abuses of women's human rights.

Guide to CEDAW and it's optional protocol: A Lever for Change

A Lever for ChangeWe have produced a guide: 'A Lever for Change: Using the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women'.

The guide explains how the CEDAW Convention and, in particular, its Optional Protocol procedure. a way for individuals and groups to complain about violations of their rights under CEDAW, can be used to guarantee the rights of women and girls in the UK.

Download the guide:

Further information

There is further information on the procedure for using the Optional protocol on the UN OHCHR website and we are pleased that they feature our guide on their website.

The UNIFEM site also has more information on the optional protocol and its procedures.

Access to adequate, affordable obstetric care

Read an example of how the CEDAW Optional Protocol can be used to hold governments accountable for women’s human rights.

New UN Women's Agency

On 1 January 2011 a new UN organisation for gender equality was launched. Further information about its work can be found on the UN Women website.

Read the Commission's position paper on the new gender agency.

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Last Updated: 17 Dec 2009