What is CEDAW?
CEDAW stands for the Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women. It was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly and is often described as an international bill of rights for women.
CEDAW defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. It provides the basis for ensuring women have equal access to and opportunities in the realms of political and public life, education, health and employment. It is also the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women.
As of 2011, 187 governments have ratified CEDAW. Governments that ratify CEDAW are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They commit to undertaking a series of measures to end discrimination against women. They also commit to submitting national reports to the UN CEDAW Committee at least every four years, describing the steps they have taken to comply with the Convention.
In addition to these national reports submitted by governments, the UN also encourages non-governmental groups to submit CEDAW Shadow Reports. The aim is to get a more comprehensive understanding of the lives of women in each country.
The Singapore government ratified CEDAW in 1995 and has submitted four reports to the UN CEDAW Committee. To date, AWARE has submitted three Shadow Reports to this Committee – in 2001, 2007 and 2011.
After receiving each country’s official and Shadow Reports, the UN CEDAW Committee submits Concluding Observations to each country. These comments contains the Committee’s principal areas of concern and its recommendations of measures the State should take to ensure the non-discrimination of women in the country.
To learn more about CEDAW and how it works, click here.
Our advocacy efforts
AWARE believes that the CEDAW mechanism is crucial in keeping women’s issues on the national agenda. We believe it is necessary and important to use such a human rights framework as we work towards the elimination of discrimination and the advancement of women.
Our CEDAW Shadow Reports are a key way of participating in this process. In 2007, our second Shadow Report got excellent reviews from the UN CEDAW Committee.
In its comments to the Singapore government in 2007, the UN expressed concern about “the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men within the family and society at large”:
“These stereotypes present a significant obstacle to the implementation of the Convention, are a root cause of violence against women in the private and public spheres, put women in a disadvantaged position in a number of areas, including in the labour market, and limit their access to leadership positions in the political and public life.”
Read AWARE’s CEDAW Shadow Report 2011:
You can also choose to read individual chapters in our Shadow Report that deal with the following issues:
- Articles 1 – 4: The definition of discrimination
- Article 2: The State’s duties to uphold CEDAW
- Article 4: Immediate steps to ensure equality
- Article 5: Sex Role Stereotyping and Prejudice
- Article 6: Suppress trafficking of women
- Article 7: Political and public life
- Article 9: Nationality
- Article 11: Employment
- Article 12: Healthcare
- Article 13: Economic and Social Benefits
- Article 16: Marriage and Family Life
- General Recommendations 19: Violence Against Women
Get 2011 CEDAW updates here:
- Our take on UN’s Concluding Observations
- Joint statement on CEDAW from 4 S’pore NGOs
- UN assesses S’pore’s compliance with CEDAW
- AWARE’s fruitful week at the United Nations
- Singapore government’s CEDAW delegation reports to the UN
- Our CEDAW team speaks at the United Nations
Learn more about CEDAW in Singapore here: