No Country has Reached Full Equality Under CEDAW
Wednesday, October 13, 2004 12:45 PM

In a statement marking the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the UN Committee overseeing the Convention recently noted that no country in the world has achieved full equality for women.

While certain countries have made great progress since the adoption of the Convention in 1979, many states party to the Convention continue to uphold discriminatory national laws, for example. Even in those countries, which have implemented laws to promote equality, informal discrimination persists.

The Committee also voiced concern about the increasing problem of trafficking of women and girls and the escalation of violence against women. Although violence against women is now considered a public concern, the practice continues in all countries, particularly in those faced with economic and political upheaval.

Further, the Committee expressed its disapproval of the underrepresentation and in some cases, absence, of women in politcal and civic life in countries that are party to the Convention.

Despite such examples of ongoing discrimination towards women, Deputy-Secretary General of the Committee, Louise Frechette, told a rountable at UN Headquaters: "The Convention remains the most solid global tool in the network for true gender equality in the home, the community and society; and for freedom from discrimination, whether perpetrated by the State or by any person, organization or enterprise."

The Committee pointed to positive steps taken by states to promote equality and eliminate discrimination against women including: Bangladesh's Constitutional Amendment to increase the number of seats reserved for women in the national parliament; legal reform prohibiting employment discrimination against women in Latvia; a new national ministry dedicated to the promotion and development of women in Angola; the opening of university-level gender studies centres in Kyrgyzstan; the development of eductional scholarship programs for women in Ethiopia; and the appointment of two women judges to Argentina's Supreme Court of Justice.

While many states have maintained reservations to key provisions of the Convention, limiting the Convention's positive impact in those places, a number of states have withdrawn either all or part of their reservations.  France, Ireland, Lesotho and Mauritius are examples of such countries leading the way toward a stronger, more meaningful CEDAW.

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