CEDAW the 66th Session

CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 66th Session, will be taking place from 13 February to 3 March 2017 at the United Nations offices in Geneva. SI UN Representatives Wilfrida Hendrickx and Sabine Kinzer will be in attendance and follow the sessions on the Republic of Ireland and Sri Lanka.

All you need to know about CEDAW

CEDAW is the most comprehensive international agreement on the human rights of women. It calls for States to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on gender and sets an agenda for achieving full equality between women and men. On 18 December 1979, CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. As of 2013, 187 countries had ratified the Convention, accepting the wide-ranging obligations to eliminate direct and indirect discrimination against women and to promote equality of women and men in all fields of life in the public and private spheres.

The CEDAW Committee is a body of 23 independent experts that monitor the implementation of CEDAW, consider the reports submitted by States party to CEDAW, and make observations and recommendations based on its consideration of those reports. The Committee formulates concluding observations that assist the State under review in the further implementation of the Convention. These concluding observations outline positive aspects, principal subjects of concern and the Committee’s recommendations on how to address challenges faced by the State party. The countries that have signed the Convention must report every four years on progress towards its implementation.

By ratifying the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to achieve equality:

  • Incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system;
  • Abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • Establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination;
  • Eliminate all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organisations or enterprises.


Optional Protocol

In a landmark decision for women, the General Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted on 6 October 1999, a 21-article Optional Protocol to CEDAW, and called on all States party to the Convention to become sign onto the new instrument as soon as possible. This Protocol contains two procedures: 1) a communications procedure allowing individual women or groups of women, to submit claims of violations of rights to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; 2) an inquiry procedure enabling the CEDAW Committee to initiate inquiries into situations of grave or systematic violations of women’s rights.

For further information:

Full text of CEDAW, Human Rights Council

Full text of Optional Protocol, Human Rights Council


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