Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

cedaw upsc notes


  • The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is a United Nations treaty, adopted in 1979 and implemented on 3rd September 1981.
  • It’s described as an international bill of rights for women, ratified by 189 states.
  • India ratified CEDAW on 9th July, 1993 committing a national agenda for the State Parties to end discrimination against women in India.

Structure of CEDAW

  • CEDAW is divided into six parts and includes 30 articles:

Part I (Articles 1–6): Non-discrimination, Sex Stereotypes, and Sex Trafficking

  • Article 1: Defines discrimination against women
  • Articles 2-6: Mandate steps to eliminate discrimination and protect women’s rights

Part II (Articles 7–9): Women’s Rights in Public Sphere

  • Emphasizes political life, representation, and rights to nationality

Part III (Articles 10–14): Economic and Social Rights of Women

  • Focuses on education, employment, and health, with special protections for rural women

Part IV (Articles 15-16): Equality in Marriage and Family Life

  • Stipulates equality before the law

Part V (Articles 17–22): Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

  • Establishes the committee and states’ reporting procedure

Part VI (Articles 23–30): Effects of the Convention

  • Covers effects on other treaties, states’ commitment, and convention administration

Articles 25–30: Administration of CEDAW

  • Detail general administrative procedures regarding enforcement, ratification, and reservations

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CEDAW, UNSCR 1325, and 1820

  • CEDAW, UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, intersect to enhance implementation and impact.
  • Resolutions 1325 and 1820 clarify the scope of CEDAW in conflict situations.
  • CEDAW provides strategic guidance on commitments outlined in these Resolutions.
  • CEDAW is expected to be incorporated into national laws as the highest standard for women’s rights.

Members and Ratification

  • Six UN member states have not ratified or acceded to the convention: Iran, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, and the United States.
  • The UN non-member state that has not acceded to the convention is the Holy See/Vatican City.
  • The Republic of China (Taiwan) ratified the treaty in its legislature in 2007, but is unrecognized by the UN.
  • South Sudan is the latest state to have acceded the convention, on 30th April 2015.
  • Multiple unsuccessful ratification attempts in the United States. Over 40 cities and local governments have adopted CEDAW ordinances or resolutions.
  • India ratified CEDAW on 9th July, 1993 

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee)

  • CEDAW Committee oversees the Convention and ensures adherence to the rules.
  • The formation and functioning of this committee were outlined in Article 17 of the CEDAW.
  • The committee has evolved over time due to an increased focus on women’s rights issues.
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