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Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) PDF Print E-mail

CEDAW One Year On Report 

The UK Government was examined by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in July 2008.  As part of the process of examination and reporting, state parties are required to submit a One Year On report to the Committee.  The Government Equalities Office submitted this report before 31 July, which has now been published and can be read here.


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international convention adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981. CEDAW is one of the most highly ratified international human rights conventions, having the support of 185 States parties. This is one of the many benefits of the CEDAW Convention; it can stand as a treaty that has achieved a global consensus and thus reflects the normative standards applicable to women's human rights.

CEDAW is a powerful tool that serves for the purposes of articulating, advocating, and monitoring women's human rights. The Convention's enforcement is monitored through a reporting system mechanism used to keep an eye on government accountability within the respective country and at the United Nations. The government's report is an analysis of their efforts to comply with the Convention, and their assessments are sometimes incomplete. As a result, the CEDAW Committee, recognising the need for an independent, objective assessment, encouraged 'shadow' reports in order to bring an appropriate focus to the most prominent concerns women have. More information on CEDAW can be accessed via the following link: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/index.html

The UK Government was examined on the 5th and 6th Periodic Report to the UN CEDAW Committee on Thursday 10 July, 2008. This examination set a precedent as it was the first time that an examination by a UN Committee was conducted via video-link. A small Ministerial led delegation was supplemented by a larger element of the delegation based in London at the Conference Centre of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. This option gave NGOs the opportunity to observe the examination directly from London with a small number of NGOs observing in New York. 

Please download WNC's Report on the CEDAW Examination here. (Word 103Kb) 

Please download a copy of the UK Government's Report to the CEDAW Committee here (Pdf 1.6Mb). 

Please download a copy of the WNC's Shadow Report to the CEDAW Committee here.

CEDAW's Optional Protocol

Very often, human rights treaties are followed by "Optional Protocols" which may either provide for procedures with regard to the treaty or address a substantive area related to the treaty. Optional Protocols to human rights treaties are treaties in their own right, and are open to signature, accession or ratification by countries who are party to the main treaty. The Optional Protocol to CEDAW provides women whose rights are violated a way to seek an international remedy. The Optional Protocol, which came into force in December 2000, offers two mechanisms to hold governments accountable for their obligations under CEDAW: (1) a communications procedure, which provides individuals and groups the right to lodge complaints with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee); and (2) an inquiry procedure, which enables the CEDAW Committee to conduct inquiries into serious and systematic abuses of women's rights. These mechanisms are only applicable in countries that are states parties to the Optional Protocol. 

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