What is the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)?

Often referred to as the ‘women’s bill of rights’, CEDAW is a core international human rights treaty devoted to gender equality. CEDAW spells out in detail women’s human right to equality and non-discrimination, and maps out the range of actions that governments must take to achieve this.

The UK ratified CEDAW in 1986, and its implementation is monitored by the UN’s CEDAW Committee. The Committee is a body of 23 independent experts, who are responsible for holding the UK to account on its progress towards protecting and realising women’s human rights. It does so by investigating and making recommendations to address gender inequality at all levels (e.g., family, community, market and state).

How is the UK held accountable?

Every five years, the CEDAW Committee asks the UK Government (and officials from the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations) to explain how they have progressed women’s rights since the last review. The Committee also hears from non-governmental organisations, including Engender, regarding the UK Government’s assessment of its actions on gender equality.

We are currently preparing for our input into this year’s review of the UK government’s performance. By collecting evidence on current issues regarding women’s rights in Scotland, we will develop a list of questions for the CEDAW Committee to ask representatives from the UK Government. We will also be drafting written evidence for review by the Committee. You can find our previous questions and written briefings here.

Once the CEDAW Committee concludes its review, it releases a set of findings, called ‘concluding observations’, which require the Government to take concrete steps to realise women’s rights. The committee’sconcluding observations from 2013 make interesting reading. You can read how these apply to Scotland here.

How can you get involved in the CEDAW process?

We want your voice to be heard, and we want your opinion and expertise to inform the evidence and materials we develop for the CEDAW Committee.

There are four different ways you can get involved:

1. Complete our survey;
2. Respond to our call for evidence;
3. Participate in one of our workshops; and/or
4. Hold your own discussion

Our survey asks a series of questions on women’s rights as they relate to employment, education, media, representation, violence against women and other themes. The survey can be submitted anonymously.

If you’d like to share your or your organisation’s view of the policy and legislative landscape as it relates to women’s rights and equality in Scotland, we suggest taking a look at our call for evidence. It asks broad questions about the actions – or inaction – by various institutions to fulfil women’s rights and contribute to a more gender equal society.

Finally, you can participate in one of our upcoming workshops, or hold your own discussion. Please visit engender.org.uk/cedaw to find out how to contribute your views – we are very keen to include as many voices as possible in our evidence.