Fast Facts About CEDAW

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.

  • 187 - The number of countries, out of 194 countries, that have ratified the treaty.
  • 7 - The number of countries that have NOT ratified CEDAW, including the United States, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and two small Pacific Island nations (Palau and Tonga).
  • 67 - The number of votes needed for the U.S. Senate to ratify CEDAW.
  • 150 and growing - The number of US based organizations -- representing millions of Americans -- that support the US ratification of CEDAW.

CEDAW Works: Invest in Women, It Pays

Providing opportunities for women and girls to learn, to earn and to participate in public decision-making helps reduce violence, alleviate poverty, build democracies and strengthen economies. In countries that have ratified CEDAW, women have partnered with their governments to shape policies that create greater safety and opportunity for women and their families. For example:

  • 2005 - Kuwait's Parliament voted to extend voting rights to women following a recommendation by the CEDAW Committee to eliminate discriminatory provisions in its electoral law.
  • 2009 - All 32 Mexican states had adopted a General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free from Violence, as a response to an epidemic of violence against women.
  • 2005 - Kenya used CEDAW to eliminate discrimination against widows and daughters regarding inheritance rights.

The United States and CEDAW

  • 1979 - The United Nations adopted CEDAW.
  • 1980 - The Carter administration signed the CEDAW on July 17 and submitted it to the Senate in November of that year.
  • 1994 - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted favorably, with a bipartisan vote of 13 to 5, to ratify CEDAW.
  • 2002 - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted favorably, with a bipartisan vote of 12 to 7, to ratify CEDAW.
  • 2010 - The Obama administration strongly supports ratification of CEDAW one of its top multilateral treaties identified as a priority for the Senate.

Role of the CEDAW Committee

Each country decides how best to achieve implementation. The CEDAW Committee has no enforcement authority; it can only make recommendations highlighting areas where more progress is needed in a particular country.

Countries that ratify CEDAW agree to take all appropriate measures to implement the treaty's provisions. Ratifying countries submit a report on how they are implementing the treaty one year after ratification, then every four years thereafter. The CEDAW Committee reviews each report and comments on each country's progress.

The CEDAW Committee is comprised of 23 independent experts who are nominated and elected by ratifying countries to serve a four-year term.