What is CEDAW?

The United Nations Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, is an  international treaty that Australia is signatory to.  Many countries around the world, including Australia, signed on to this convention and agreed to try and implement mechanisms in their country to eliminate discrimination against women.


What does it aim to achieve?

The convention aims to:

• Eliminate discrimination against women
• Achieve substantive equality
• Take action in both the public and private spheres
• Take action in all areas of women’s lives
• Take action for all women

Although violence against women is not specifically included, it is referenced in the CEDAW general recommendations 12 (1989) & 19 (1992) and covered in many of the CEDAW articles (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 14, 16)


How are countries held to account?

As a signatory to the Convention, the United Nation requires each country to prepare a report around every 4 years about how the government has been implementing policies and programs to meet the conventions requirements. There is a Government report, and a Shadow Report which is prepared by NGOs.  The UN CEDAW Committee reviews these and prepares a report back to each country outlining how it is progressing and makes recommendations on areas for improvement.


When was Australia last reviewed?

In July 2010 the UN CEDAW Committee reviewed the Australian Government’s compliance with CEDAW and how Australia has implemented the treaty into its laws and policies. The committee made two specific recommendations for actions on violence against women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, in its Concluding Observations and requested an update on progress at the 2-year mark, prior to a full review in 2014. The Australian Government has to report back to the CEDAW committee on its progress on these two areas (paragraph 29 and 41) by July 2012


For more information about the 2010 review of Australia and the CEDAW Committee’s other recommendations please see the Australian NGO CEDAW Action Plan.


Why submit an NGO report?

The NGO report provides additional information and an alternative view to the CEDAW Committee when it considers Australia’s response to its recommendations.


The diagram below developed by the Kingsford Legal Centre outlines the CEDAW process and time-frames: