Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination

against Women

 

Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by

General Assembly resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979

 

entry into force 3 September 1981, in accordance with article 27(1)

status of ratifications

The States Parties to the present Convention,

 

Noting that the Charter of the United Nations reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth

of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women,

 

Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination

and proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all

the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex,

 

Noting that the States Parties to the International Covenants on Human Rights have the obligation to ensure the

equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights,

 

Considering the international conventions concluded under the auspices of the United Nations and the specialized

agencies promoting equality of rights of men and women,

 

Noting also the resolutions, declarations and recommendations adopted by the United Nations and the specialized

agencies promoting equality of rights of men and women,

 

Concerned, however, that despite these various instruments extensive discrimination against women continues to

exist,

 

Recalling that discrimination against women violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human

dignity, is an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic

and cultural life of their countries, hampers the growth of the prosperity of society and the family and makes more

difficult the full development of the potentialities of women in the service of their countries and of humanity,

 

Concerned that in situations of poverty women have the least access to food, health, education, training and

opportunities for employment and other needs,

 

Convinced that the establishment of the new international economic order based on equity and justice will

contribute significantly towards the promotion of equality between men and women,

 

Emphasizing that the eradication of apartheid, all forms of racism, racial discrimination, colonialism,

neo-colonialism, aggression, foreign occupation and domination and interference in the internal affairs of States is

essential to the full enjoyment of the rights of men and women,

 

Affirming that the strengthening of international peace and security, the relaxation of international tension, mutual

co-operation among all States irrespective of their social and economic systems, general and complete

disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control, the affirmation of

the principles of justice, equality and mutual benefit in relations among countries and the realization of the right of

peoples under alien and colonial domination and foreign occupation to self-determination and independence, as

well as respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, will promote social progress and development and

as a consequence will contribute to the attainment of full equality between men and women,

 

Convinced that the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace

require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields,

 

Bearing in mind the great contribution of women to the welfare of the family and to the development of society, so

far not fully recognized, the social significance of maternity and the role of both parents in the family and in the

upbringing of children, and aware that the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination

but that the upbringing of children requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society as a

whole,

 

Aware that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is

needed to achieve full equality between men and women,

 

Determined to implement the principles set forth in the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against

Women and, for that purpose, to adopt the measures required for the elimination of such discrimination in all its

forms and manifestations,

 

Have agreed on the following:

 

PART I

 

Article I

 

For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean 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.

 

Article 2

 

States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means

and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake:

 

(a) To embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other

appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other

appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle;

 

(b) To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate,

prohibiting all discrimination against women;

 

(c) To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure

through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women

against any act of discrimination;

 

(d) To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure

that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation;

 

(e) To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person,

organization or enterprise;

 

(f) To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws,

regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;

 

(g) To repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.

 

Article 3

 

States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate

measures, including legislation, to en sure the full development and advancement of women , for the purpose of

guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality

with men.

 

Article 4

 

1. Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men

and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail

as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when

the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.

 

2. Adoption by States Parties of special measures, including those measures contained in the present Convention,

aimed at protecting maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.

 

Article 5

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

 

(a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to

achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the

idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and

women;

 

(b) To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function

and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and

development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial

consideration in all cases.

 

Article 6

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women

and exploitation of prostitution of women.

 

PART II

 

Article 7

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and

public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:

 

(a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected

bodies;

 

(b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold

public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;

 

(c) To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and

political life of the country.

 

Article 8 General comment on its implementation

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any

discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the

work of international organizations.

 

Article 9

 

1. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. They shall

ensure in particular that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall

automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon her the nationality of the

husband.

 

2. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

 

PART III

 

Article 10

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to

them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and

women:

 

(a) The same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to studies and for the

achievement of diplomas in educational establishments of all categories in rural as well as in urban

areas; this equality shall be ensured in pre-school, general, technical, professional and higher

technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training;

 

(b) Access to the same curricula, the same examinations, teaching staff with qualifications of the

same standard and school premises and equipment of the same quality;

 

(c) The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all

forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to

achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the

adaptation of teaching methods;

 

(d ) The same opportunities to benefit from scholarships and other study grants;

 

(e) The same opportunities for access to programmes of continuing education, including adult and

functional literacy programmes, particulary those aimed at reducing, at the earliest possible time, any

gap in education existing between men and women;

 

(f) The reduction of female student drop-out rates and the organization of programmes for girls and

women who have left school prematurely;

 

(g) The same Opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education;

 

(h) Access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families,

including information and advice on family planning.

 

Article 11

 

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of

employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

 

(a) The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;

 

(b) The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for

selection in matters of employment;

 

(c) The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all

benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including

apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training;

 

(d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of

equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;

 

(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity

and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave;

 

(f) The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of

the function of reproduction.

 

2. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their

effective right to work, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:

 

(a) To prohibit, subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or of

maternity leave and discrimination in dismissals on the basis of marital status;

 

(b) To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former

employment, seniority or social allowances;

 

(c) To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to

combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular

through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities;

 

(d) To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful

to them.

 

3. Protective legislation relating to matters covered in this article shall be reviewed periodically in the light of

scientific and technological knowledge and shall be revised, repealed or extended as necessary.

 

Article 12 General comment on its implementation

 

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health

care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those

related to family planning.

 

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate

services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where

necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

 

Article 13

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of

economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

 

(a) The right to family benefits;

 

(b) The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit;

 

(c) The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.

 

Article 14

 

1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles

which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized

sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the

present Convention to women in rural areas.

 

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in

order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural

development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:

 

(a) To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;

 

(b) To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counselling and services

in family planning;

 

(c) To benefit directly from social security programmes;

 

(d) To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, including that relating to

functional literacy, as well as, inter alia, the benefit of all community and extension services, in order

to increase their technical proficiency;

 

(e) To organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic

opportunities through employment or self employment;

 

(f) To participate in all community activities;

 

(g) To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and

equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;

 

(h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and

water supply, transport and communications.

 

PART IV

 

Article 15

 

1. States Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law.

 

2. States Parties shall accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same

opportunities to exercise that capacity. In particular, they shall give women equal rights to conclude contracts and

to administer property and shall treat them equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals.

 

3. States Parties agree that all contracts and all other private instruments of any kind with a legal effect which is

directed at restricting the legal capacity of women shall be deemed null and void.

 

4. States Parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement

of persons and the freedom to choose their residence and domicile.

 

Article 16

 

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters

relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

 

(a) The same right to enter into marriage;

 

(b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full

consent;

 

(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;

 

(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters

relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

 

(e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and

to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

 

(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and

adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all

cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

 

(g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a

profession and an occupation;

 

(h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management,

administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable

consideration.

 

2. The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation,

shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official

registry compulsory.

 

PART V

 

Article 17

 

1. For the purpose of considering the progress made in the implementation of the present Convention, there shall

be established a Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (hereinafter referred to as the

Committee) consisting, at the time of entry into force of the Convention, of eighteen and, after ratification of or

accession to the Convention by the thirty-fifth State Party, of twenty-three experts of high moral standing and

competence in the field covered by the Convention. The experts shall be elected by States Parties from among

their nationals and shall serve in their personal capacity, consideration being given to equitable geographical

distribution and to the representation of the different forms of civilization as well as the principal legal systems.

 

2. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by States

Parties. Each State Party may nominate one person from among its own nationals.

 

3. The initial election shall be held six months after the date of the entry into force of the present Convention. At

least three months before the date of each election the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a

letter to the States Parties inviting them to submit their nominations within two months. The Secretary-General

shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all persons thus nominated, indicating the States Parties which have

nominated them, and shall submit it to the States Parties.

 

4. Elections of the members of the Committee shall be held at a meeting of States Parties convened by the

Secretary-General at United Nations Headquarters. At that meeting, for which two thirds of the States Parties

shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those nominees who obtain the largest

number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the representatives of States Parties present and voting.

 

5. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years. However, the terms of nine of the

members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two years; immediately after the first election the

names of these nine members shall be chosen by lot by the Chairman of the Committee.

 

6. The election of the five additional members of the Committee shall be held in accordance with the provisions of

paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of this article, following the thirty-fifth ratification or accession. The terms of two of the

additional members elected on this occasion shall expire at the end of two years, the names of these two members

having been chosen by lot by the Chairman of the Committee.

 

7. For the filling of casual vacancies, the State Party whose expert has ceased to function as a member of the

Committee shall appoint another expert from among its nationals, subject to the approval of the Committee.

 

8. The members of the Committee shall, with the approval of the General Assembly, receive emoluments from

United Nations resources on such terms and conditions as the Assembly may decide, having regard to the

importance of the Committee's responsibilities.

 

9. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary staff and facilities for the effective

performance of the functions of the Committee under the present Convention.

 

Article 18

 

1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for consideration by the

Committee, a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted to give

effect to the provisions of the present Convention and on the progress made in this respect:

 

(a) Within one year after the entry into force for the State concerned;

 

(b) Thereafter at least every four years and further whenever the Committee so requests.

 

2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations under the present

Convention.

 

Article 19

 

1. The Committee shall adopt its own rules of procedure.

 

2. The Committee shall elect its officers for a term of two years.

 

Article 20 General comment on its implementation

 

1. The Committee shall normally meet for a period of not more than two weeks annually in order to consider the

reports submitted in accordance with article 18 of the present Convention.

 

2. The meetings of the Committee shall normally be held at United Nations Headquarters or at any other

convenient place as determined by the Committee. (amendment, status of ratification)

 

Article 21

 

1. The Committee shall, through the Economic and Social Council, report annually to the General Assembly of the

United Nations on its activities and may make suggestions and general recommendations based on the

examination of reports and information received from the States Parties. Such suggestions and general

recommendations shall be included in the report of the Committee together with comments, if any, from States

Parties.

 

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit the reports of the Committee to the Commission on

the Status of Women for its information.

 

Article 22

 

The specialized agencies shall be entitled to be represented at the consideration of the implementation of such

provisions of the present Convention as fall within the scope of their activities. The Committee may invite the

specialized agencies to submit reports on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of

their activities.

 

PART VI

 

Article 23

 

Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions that are more conducive to the achievement of

equality between men and women which may be contained:

 

(a) In the legislation of a State Party; or

 

(b) In any other international convention, treaty or agreement in force for that State.

 

Article 24

 

States Parties undertake to adopt all necessary measures at the national level aimed at achieving the full realization

of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

 

Article 25

 

1. The present Convention shall be open for signature by all States.

 

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is designated as the depositary of the present Convention.

 

3. The present Convention is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the

Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 

4. The present Convention shall be open to accession by all States. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of

an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 

Article 26

 

1. A request for the revision of the present Convention may be made at any time by any State Party by means of a

notification in writing addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 

2. The General Assembly of the United Nations shall decide upon the steps, if any, to be taken in respect of such

a request.

 

Article 27

 

1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of deposit with the

Secretary-General of the United Nations of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession.

 

2. For each State ratifying the present Convention or acceding to it after the deposit of the twentieth instrument of

ratification or accession, the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of the deposit of its

own instrument of ratification or accession.

 

Article 28

 

1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall receive and circulate to all States the text of reservations

made by States at the time of ratification or accession.

 

2. A reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be permitted.

 

3. Reservations may be withdrawn at any time by notification to this effect addressed to the Secretary-General of

the United Nations, who shall then inform all States thereof. Such notification shall take effect on the date on

which it is received.

 

Article 29

 

1. Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present

Convention which is not settled by negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If

within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the parties are unable to agree on the organization of

the arbitration, any one of those parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in

conformity with the Statute of the Court.

 

2. Each State Party may at the time of signature or ratification of the present Convention or accession thereto

declare that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph I of this article. The other States Parties shall not be

bound by that paragraph with respect to any State Party which has made such a reservation.

 

3. Any State Party which has made a reservation in accordance with paragraph 2 of this article may at any time

withdraw that reservation by notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 

Article 30

 

The present Convention, the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts of which are equally

authentic, shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed the present Convention.

 

Copyright 1997

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, Switzerland