CEDAW – the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women often referred to as the bill of rights of women, is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979.
Despite the existence of other international human rights treaties, women still do not have equal rights with men. Additional means of protecting women’s human rights were required because women’s “humanity” did not guarantee protection of their rights.
For the past 40 years, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has worked with dedication and passion to assist countries in implementing their treaty obligations to protect and promote women’s human rights since the VERY FIRST SESSION convened in Geneva in October 1982.
The CEDAW Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The CEDAW Committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world. Trinidad and Tobago became a signatory to CEDAW on 27 June 1980. Our very own Professor Rhoda Reddock was appointed to the 23-member United Nations committee in 2018, charged with the responsibility of monitoring the progress made by States Parties in the implementation of the Convention.
Professor Rhoda Reddock facilitating CEDAW Sensitization.
Tremendous Sensitization Witnessed
The Committee has established itself as an authoritative source on all that concerns women’s rights. Since its first session in October 1982, the Committee has witnessed tremendous growth in the number of States parties and corresponding growth in its workload. The Convention currently has 189 states parties. Thus, the vast majority of the member states of the UN (193) have voluntarily agreed to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of women.
The Convention identifies many specific areas where there has been notorious discrimination against women, for example in regard to political rights, marriage and the family, and employment. It also spells out specific goals and measures that are to be taken to facilitate the creation of a global society in which women enjoy full equality with men and thus full realization of their guaranteed human rights.
Professor Rhoda Reddock.
Why is CEDAW important?
CEDAW is a tool that helps women around the world to bring about change in their daily life. In countries that have ratified the treaty, CEDAW has proved invaluable in opposing the effects of discrimination, which include violence, poverty, and lack of legal protections, along with the denial of inheritance, property rights, and access to credit.
Internationally, the treaty has contributed the development of:
• ↓citizenship rights in Botswana and Japan;
• inheritance rights in Tanzania;
• ↓property rights and political participation in Costa Rica.
CEDAW has also fostered adoption of:
• a law on gender equality in Mongolia;
• ↓a law in Rwanda prohibiting sex-based discrimination in access to land;
• ↓domestic violence laws in Turkey, Nepal, South Africa, and the Republic of Korea;
• ↓legislation criminalizing all forms of violence against women in Burkina Faso and femicide in Panama;
• ↓a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada;
• ↓anti-trafficking laws in Ukraine and Moldova.
How does CEDAW work?
The States that ratified the Convention are legally obliged, firstly, to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in all areas of life, and, secondly, to ensure women’s full development and advancement in order that they can exercise and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms in the same way as men. Thirdly, a State party must allow the CEDAW Committee to scrutinize its efforts to implement the treaty by reporting to the body at regular intervals.
Countries that have become party to the treaty (States parties) are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights of the Convention are being implemented. During its public sessions, the Committee reviews each State party report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.
CEDAW Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (CCoTT)
CEDAW Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (CCoTT) is a UN ECOSOC accredited volunteer non-governmental organization incorporated under the 1995 companies act focused on Advocacy, Public Awareness and Education on and for the sustainable implementation of the principles of the Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Using a collaborative approach, we utilize the recommendations advanced at state periodic reviews to ensure compliance within a national and human rights context.
The organisation strives to cultivate a vibrant community that will support, strengthen, and guide the development of frameworks as a critical cog in the advocacy wheel while promoting the essential tenets of the Convention, and engaging with communities in a manner that adds significant value into effective, sustainable development.
Tel: (868) 489-2185 | 225-7734 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.cedawtt.org
(information submitted by Terry Ince)
CEDAW is made up of 30 articles, divided into the following areas:-
General framework of the Convention Articles 1-5
1. Definition of discrimination -
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.
2. Policy measures -
States must make laws and regulations, implement policies and change practices to eliminate discrimination against women.
3. Equality -
Women are fundamentally equal with men in all spheres of life. States should take action to ensure women can enjoy basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
4. Temporary special -
measures Affirmative action or temporary special measures should and can be used (e.g. quotas or women-only services) to accelerate women’s equality.
5. Sex roles and stereotyping -
The Convention recognizes the influence of culture and tradition in restricting women’s enjoyment of rights. States must modify or abolish discriminatory cultural practices and take appropriate measures to eliminate sex role stereotyping and prejudice stemming from the idea of the inferiority or superiority of one sex over the other.
Specific and substantive issues Articles 6-16
6. Trafficking and prostitution -
States Parties must take all measures, including legislation to stop all forms of trafficking and exploitation of women for prostitution.
7. Political and public life -
Women have equal rights to vote, hold public office and participate in civil society.
8. Participation at the international level -
Women should be able to represent their country internationally and work with international organisations on an equal basis with men.
9. Nationality -
Women have equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality and that of their children.
10. Equal rights in education -
Women have equal rights to education including vocational training and guidance, continuing education, sport and scholarships. The content of the curriculum should prevent the repetition of negative stereotypes and sexual health education should be available.
11. Employment -
Women have the right to work, employment opportunities, equal remuneration, free choice of profession and employment, social security, and protection of health. Discrimination on the grounds of marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare is prohibited.
12. Healthcare and family planning -
Women have equal rights to access health care including sexual health, family planning services and pre and post-natal care.
13. Economic and social benefits -
Women have equal rights to family benefits, financial credit and to participate in recreational activities, sports and cultural life.
14. Rural women -
Rural women have the right to adequate living conditions, participation in development planning, and access to education, healthcare, transport and financial services.
15. Equality before the law -
Women are to be treated as equal before the law. Women have the legal right to enter contracts, own property and to choose where to live.
16. Marriage and family -
Women have equal rights with men within marriage including family planning, property ownership and occupation.
Committee and Procedures Articles 17-23
Administration and interpretation Articles 23-30