The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW) on 18 December 1979. It entered into force as an International Treaty on 3 September 1981.

The Convention explicitly acknowledges that ‘extensive discrimination against women continues to exist’, and emphasizes that such discrimination ‘violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity’.

Further information can be found on the UN website.

The UK signed the Convention in 1981 and ratified it in 1986. The UK's Government Equalities Office (GEO) is responsible for overseeing and promoting the delivery of commitments to CEDAW and, for the 4-yearly reports, co-ordinates input from all other UK Government Departments and the devolved administrations, including Scottish Government. These reports provide progress information on the situation of women in regards to all the areas of discrimination detailed within the Convention as well as on the UN CEDAW Committee's previous recommendations.

The CEDAW articles fall into three main categories:

  • The nature and scope of the Government’s obligations.
  • The specific forms of discrimination and the measures which should be undertaken to eliminate discrimination in each of the areas.
  • Procedural and administrative matters.

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The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.

Each year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

Scottish Women’s Convention (SWC) Input

Over the past few years, the SWC has been heavily involved in the work of CSW. Working with women’s organisations at a UK level, the SWC ensures that the voices of women in Scotland are included in the UK Government’s planning and negotiations at CSW.

The SWC is a member of the UK NGO CSW Alliance, a group of women’s organisations from throughout the UK who progress the work around CSW. The SWC is also a member of the UK CSW Core Group and the UK CSW Liaison Group which meets directly with UK Government officials.

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