UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

CEDAW is an international bill of rights for women adopted December 18, 1979 by the United Nations. This agreement establishes a universal definition of discrimination against women and comprehensively addresses and sets legally-binding principles and standards for realizing women’s rights. As of 2013, 187 countries have ratified the CEDAW treaty.

UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

Adopted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, this declaration defines violence against women and calls on nation states to take specific measures to address and end all types of violence against women.

UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women)

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women to accelerate progress in women's empowerment and gender equality by merging the resources and mandates of four UN system entities: 1. the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW); 2. the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); 3. the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI); and, 4. the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).  UN Women's main roles are to:

  • Support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms;
  • Help UN Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it;
  • Forge effective partnerships with civil society; and,
  • Hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

This commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is the primary global policy-making body focused exclusively on gender equality and the advancement of women. Every year, CWS holds a 10 day session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. UN Women supports CWS in all aspects of its work, including the participation of civil society representatives.


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