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International Conventions for Women’s Rights

“Standards and Norms on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Asia and Europe”

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
12 Feb 2010 Governance & Economy Department Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights Series (ASEMHRS) Governance & Human Rights


* NOTICE: This event has been cancelled due to Professor Flinterman's schedule. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. *

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the international human rights treaty that is exclusively devoted to gender equality. It was adopted on 18 December 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The Convention has achieved nearly universal ratification, with 186 countries having become States parties to it. States parties have the three-fold obligation to respect, protect and fulfil women’s human rights. To “respect,” the State must abstain from any conduct or activity of its own that violates human rights. To “protect,” the State must prevent violations by non-state actors, including individuals, groups, institutions and corporations. And to “fulfil,” the State must take whatever measures are needed to move towards the full realization of women’s human rights.

This lecture will try to identify the current trends in Europe and Asia regarding women’s rights and gender equality. There have traditionally been great differences in the participation of women in society in the ASEM countries. In particular, there are considerable differences in women’s and men’s access to and opportunities to exert power over economic structures in their societies so that economic recession in many ASEM countries have had a disproportionately negative impact on women’s employment.

Nevertheless, there has been remarkable progress in achieving gender equality in laws and institutions that could provide positive examples to fully implement international standards on gender equality.  To ensure effective implementation of the international conventions and to enhance the work for the advancement of women at the national, sub regional/regional and international levels, Governments, the United Nations system and all other relevant organisations should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in the monitoring and evaluation of all policies and programmes.

This lecture takes place on the sidelines of meeting with Rapporteurs of the Informal Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Seminar on Human Rights on 11 February 2010.