Creating a fairer Britain
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
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.
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