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

CEDAW 2011: Because Women’s Rights are Human Rights


CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.

The National Education Association condemns domestic and other violence against women and girls, as well as the tolerance of such violence, and believes that all nations should pass and enforce measures to curtail and prevent actions, policies, and practices that inflict pain, suffering, or death. (NEA Resolution I-26. Violence Against Women and Girls Worldwide, 1993, 1997)


The NEA Legislative Program explicitly calls for ratification of CEDAW, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. NEA resolutions call for all nations "to respect and protect the basic human and civil rights of every individual" and state that "all persons, regardless of gender, must have equal opportunity for employment, promotion, compensation, and leadership."  

CEDAW defines discrimination against women and calls for action in education, employment, health care, law, politics, trade, and domestic relations. It is the most comprehensive international agreement seeking to support the advancement of women. The Convention is being used in the nations that have ratified it as a tool to secure equal rights for women, such as in Kenya, where the national constitution lacks strong anti-discrimination provisions. The Convention will also assist the United States as it supports human rights domestically and beyond our borders.

CEDAW strengthens the United States as a global leader in standing up for women and girls in countries around the world.

CEDAW Works: Invest in Women, It Pays

Ratifying the CEDAW treaty would continue America’s proud bipartisan tradition of promoting and protecting human rights.

This international agreement offers countries a practical blueprint to achieve progress for women and girls by calling on each ratifying country to overcome barriers of discrimination in a range of areas, such as:


  • Violence against women and girls, to reduce sex trafficking and domestic violence (e.g., Nepal and Mexico)
  • Educational opportunities, for access to primary education and all vocational opportunities; ( e.g., Bangladesh)
  • Political participation, including the right to vote, to serve on juries and to hold political office; (e.g., Kuwait)
  • Marriage and family relations, bringing an end to forced marriages and ensuring that women have a right to inherit property; (e.g., Morocco and Kenya)
  • Maternal Health care services, providing access to basic health care so women and families can lead healthier lives; and
  • Economic participation, such as the ability to work and own a business without discrimination.

The United States is one of only seven countries, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and three small Pacific Island countries (Nauru, Palau and Tonga), that have not yet ratified CEDAW. U.S. ratification of the treaty does not require any additional costs or new appropriations.

What You Can Do

Urge the United States to join the nations that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).



  • Write your Senator and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If your senator is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, your letter as a constituent is even more powerful.


  • Call or write the President and the Secretary of State and ask them to actively support treaty ratification.

    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500
    Comments: 202-456-1111
    Switchboard: 202-456-1414 (M-F, 9 to 5 p.m. EDT)
    Fax: 202-456-2461

    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington, DC 20520
    Voice: 202/647-5291 (M-F, 9 to 5 p.m. EDT)
    Fax: 202/261-8577

    Suggested Message

    I urge you to support the Treaty for the Rights of Women and work toward full Senate ratification. Women in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world need our support for ending sex trafficking, educating girls and promoting women's health. This treaty can make a huge difference in efforts to save women's lives, help their families and promote economic self-sufficiency.

    For more information on CEDAW, visit:



    Tell Congress to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)