What is the CEDAW?

Known as the International Bill of Rights of Women, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It affirms women's rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children.

CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations in 1979 and took effect on September 3, 1981. As of February 2015, it has 188 State Parties that agreed to implement the provisions of the treaty most importantly taking appropriate measures against all forms of discrimination and exploitation of women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as "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.

CEDAW also establishes a framework that draws on three over-arching principles: equality in opportunity, equality in access and equality in results. The Convention advocates the “substantive” kind of equality both in law (de jure) and in practice (de facto).