Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

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CEDAW is a groundbreaking document from the UN. It’s fairly comprehensive. Adopted in 1979, it defines discrimination against women, which is important because without a definition, how do we recognize it? Their definition is, “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.” (Source)

Another important and interesting thing to note is that the United States has not ratified CEDAW. Check out this video.

I think the most interesting part is the countries we are included with in those who have not signed it. Iran? They stone women for adultery with or without proof. Also, it has such a broad support. Only seven countries have not signed on. That’s impressive.

The significance of this is that CEDAW has done great things for women and could do great things for women here in the US. Some successes include helping women in Kuwait gain the right to vote (Source), helping Bangladesh to forbid sexual harassment, help prevent forced sterilization in Hungary and more (Found and from this source where you can read more details as well as more success stories).

One downside, however, is that countries can enter in with reservations. This is basically saying – we will accept this treaty, but we don’t agree with these parts so we’re not going to follow them. But, recently, Egypt and Jordan withdrew some of their reservations so that is great news! (Source)

Check out these videos of CEDAW’s importance in other countries. Watch them all or watch the countries you are interested in.

Brazil (Part is in Spanish)


Gambia (Talks about CEDAW and religion which I think is really important and interesting)

Nigeria (Talks about success stories)

Read the full text here.

See what countries have ratified it and when here.

Also, see country reports and find out how they are doing on CEDAW here.

You can also check out Amnesty International as they have a really good section on myths about CEDAW.

You can read more about women and the UN here.


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