1979 December 18

UN Adopts Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women


The United Nations on this day adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Provisions of the Convention (often abbreviated CEDW) include the right of women to participate in political affairs on an equal basis with men; equal access to education; equal employment opportunities; no discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or maternity; the right to enter into contracts; the right to choose the number and spacing of children, and access to information regarding these rights; and many other rights.

The United States signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women but has still not ratified it. (Signing is one of the official steps in the process for a country adopting a UN convention or declaration.) The other six United Nations members that have not ratified it are Iran, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Palau, and Tonga. Opposition to ratification came from conservative Republicans who object to its secular egalitarian orientation. President Bill Clinton urged ratification in 1994, but conservative Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina blocked a vote in the Senate.

Read the Convention: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/women/engl-wmn.html#cedaw

Learn more about the UN and women’s issues: http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/women/

Why the U.S. won’t ratify the Convention: http://womensissues.about.com/od/feminismequalrights/a/CEDAWUS.htm

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