Publication Author: 
United Nations
18 December 1979
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The Covention on the Elimination of all forms of Discriminations Against Women adopted in 1969 by the United Nations General Assembly is described as an international bill of rights for women. The Covention establishes an agenda of action for putting an end to sex-based discrimination.

States ratifying it are required to enshrine gender equality into their domestic legislation, repeal all discriminatory provisions in their laws, and enact new provisions to guard against discrimination against women.

Positive action must be also complemented by the establishment of tribunals and public institutions to guarantee women effective protection against discrimination, and take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination practiced against women by individuals, organizations and enterprises.

The Convention, that came into force in 1981, defines discrimination against women in the following terms:

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 righst and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

The United States is the only developed nation that has not ratified the CEDAW. Several countries have ratified the Convention subject to certain reservations and objections.