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CEDAW: Country Status Assessment

Download CEDAW Booklet (English PDF) - Download CEDAW Booklet (French PDF) - Download CEDAW Booklet (Arabic PDF)

The adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1979 is considered a culmination of decades of international efforts exerted to protect and promote the rights of all women. It resulted from initial efforts taken by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women established in 1947.

The Convention constitutes the international bill of rights for women. Its preamble recalls that the elimination of discrimination against women and the promotion of equality between women and men are basic principles of the United Nations and constitute binding obligations under the Charter of the U.N. and other instruments. The preamble is followed by thirty operative articles that bind States which have ratified or acceded to it to certain specific obligations. The treaty allows for progressive rather than immediate implementation of many provisions, yet ratification demonstrates a positive commitment to the comprehensive prohibition and elimination of discrimination against women, ‘without delay.’

Article 28 of the Convention permits ratification with reservations; however the CEDAW Committee has always considered the matter of reservations to be serious. It always urges governments to lift reservations when discussing their periodic reports.

The Optional Protocol contains two procedures: a communications procedure allowing individual women, or groups of women, to submit claims of violation of rights protected under the Convention to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. It also creates an inquiry procedure enabling the Committee to initiate inquiries into situation of grave systematic violations of women’s rights.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which considers State parties’ reports, is comprised of 23 experts nominated by State parties and are elected by secret ballot from a list of persons of “high moral standing and competence in the issues covered by the Convention”. The experts serve four year terms and consideration is given to equitable geographical distribution and to the representation of different forms of civilization and the principal legal systems. They serve in their personal capacity as independent experts and not as delegates or representatives of their countries.

Until June 2006, 183 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention and 79 States parties have become party to the Optional Protocol.

You can view the CEDAW Country Status Assessment for the following countries:

  Algeria   Morocco
  Egypt   Syria
  Israel   Tunisia
  Jordan   Turkey
  Lebanon      

Last updated: October 10, 2007
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the British Council and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.