- Non-recognition of women’s human rights by men and women alike
- Non-recognition of abuses against women
- Non-recognition of sex, sex-based differences and gender as constituting risk and basis for vulnerability to violation
Much to my chagrin, the United States stands united with Iran as the only two nations not to ratify CEDAW. It would be great if the US were to join the rest of the civilized world in recognizing this convention.
The Guiding Principles of CEDAW are:
- Substantive Equality
- State Obligations
Let's begin with the principle of Non-Discrimination. CEDAW is the only UN convention to clearly define discrimination against women in the first Article, so let's break it down for simplicity:
- 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 rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
- Direct or Indirect (Intended or Unintended) – Indirect includes a neutral law which has the effect of discriminating
- In law (de jure) or in practice (de facto)
- Present or Past/Structural, which is to say "historical discrimination"
- In all fields (civil, politcal, social, cultural, economic)
- Inter-sectional / Multiple Discrimination
- Race or Ethnicity
Approaches to Equality
- Equality of opportunities
- Equality of access
- Equality of results or benefits
Now armed with a basic knowledge of the common approaches to equality, let's try examining a case study. In 2009, after completing a Master's Degree in Sustainable Development I had done an internship with the International Women's Rights Action Watch - Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (http://www.iwraw-ap.org/). As an intern I was involved in CEDAW training workshops. The case study below is from IWRAW-AP, and will test your new knowledge! Remember, states have obligations under CEDAW to correct an environment, and in the court of law a court can hold a state accountable to the international treaties it signs...
As an exercise intended to provide an opportunity to utilize lessons learned, it is interesting to note how often people revert to their old perceptions.
Before going into the answers ask yourself a few questions:
- What approach did the prison authorities take? (Formal, Protectionist or Corrective)
- In the environment as it exists, whose safety is at risk?
- Only women wardens?
- Both women and men wardens?
- All prison wardens and all prisoners?
- In supporting the existing policy, did the judge change the environment?
- What changes could the court rule to make it a safe environment for all?
- Embody the principle of equality in constitution and laws
- Ensure practical realization of the principle of equality
- Prohibit discrimination against women
- Legal protection of rights of women/against discrimination
- Refrain from discrimination (public actors)
- Eliminate discrimination by any person, organization or enterprise
- Modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination and to modify social and cultural patterns of conduct (2f and 5a)
- Repeal discriminatory penal provisions
- Prevent and deter private acts of discrimination;
- investigate and negate their consequences;
- provide for remedies, redress, compensation or sanctions for the performance of such acts.
- Art. 1: Definition of Discrimination
- Art. 2: Measures to be Taken to Eliminate Discrimination
- Art. 3: Guarantees full development and advancement of women
- Art. 4: Special Measures
- Art. 5: Modifying Social and Cultural Patterns of Conduct
- Art. 6: Trafficking and Prostitution
- Art 7: Political and Public Life
- Art. 8: Participation and the International Level
- Art. 9: Nationality
- Art. 10: Education
- Art. 11: Employment
- Art. 12: Healthcare
- Art. 13: Economic and Social Benefits
- Art. 14: Rural Women
- Art 15: Equality Before the Law
- Art.16: Marriage and Family Life
- Articles 17 - 23 Establishment and Functioning of the CEDAW Committee
- Articles 23 - 30 Other details relating to the administration, interpretation and implementation of the Convention
To read CEDAW in English, click here
To read CEDAW in Spanish, click here
To read CEDAW in French, click here
To read CEDAW in Arabic, click here
To read CEDAW in Chinese, click here
To read CEDAW in Russian, click here
Feel free to add your comments, thoughts or ideas below or catch me on facebook. For those who prefer reading black on white, here is the downloadable version of this post on pdf:
A Rights-Based Approach to Fair Trade - Understanding CEDAW