Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN. The First World Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations in Mexico City in 1975 called for a treaty for women's rights. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on 18 December 1979, and it became effective on 3 September 1981.
The convention, which consists of a preamble and thirty articles, defines and condemns discrimination against women in the areas of politics, law, employment, education, health care, commercial transactions, domestic relations, and reproduction. It also requires signers to take action against traffic in women.
As of May 2001 there were 168 signatories to the convention. Signers made a commitment to take positive action to end discrimination against women. They send in a country report at least every four years, which is reviewed by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. In 1999 the General Assembly adopted an optional protocol by which the committee may also consider violations of women's rights if the petitioners have exhausted all remedies available to them in their home countries. The committee may also initiate inquiries into grave violations of women's rights. Both of these procedures may only be invoked when member states have signed both the convention and the protocol.
The United States was active in the drafting of CEDAW and signed the treaty on 17 July 1980, but the Senate did not ratify it. On 8 March 1999 Senator Jesse Helms, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, expressed his opposition to CEDAW. By 2002 the United States was the only industrialized country that had not ratified the treaty.
Askin, Kelly D., and Dorean M. Koenig, eds. Women and International Human Rights Law. Ardsley, N.Y.: Transnational, 1999.
See alsoUnited Nations ; Women's Rights Movement: The Twentieth Century .