“Gender equality must become a lived reality.” -Michelle Bachelet

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The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) began on January 18 and will go until February 5. CEDAW is an international agreement that “affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world” (CEDAW 2013). This agreement establishes an agenda for how to overcome discrimination of women and girls in countries around the world. It was originally adopted in 1979 and the UN holds as many meetings as are necessary to meet its objectives. To date, 187 out of 194 countries have ratified the treaty. The United States is one of those countries that has not ratified this treaty.

The purpose of CEDAW is to:

  • Reduce sex trafficking & domestic violence
  • Provide access to education & vocational training
  • Ensure the right to vote
  • End forced marriage & child marriage & ensure inheritance rights
  • Help mothers and families by providing access to maternal health care
  • Ensure the right to work & own a business without discrimination

I was so excited to hear about the “African Ministerial Preparatory Meeting” on January 14 in Ethiopia. There were officials from 27 countries, UN officials, and other representatives in attendance. At the meeting, Lakshmi Puri, the UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, spoke on ending violence against women (UN Women: West Africa). This is the theme for this year’s convention. Watch her call to action for African leadership.

End violence against women.

On January 17, just before the start of the conference, Puri spoke once again about the elimination of violence against women and the role of the international community (UN Women). CEDAW is more than just a treaty, more than just a piece of paper.

“These texts constitute a powerful body of global and regional norms and standards that then get translated into national and local laws, policies, and actions…they may be pieces of paper…but they carry the weight of moral authority.”

“They can change mindsets and societies and can make a critical difference on the issue of violence against women, which has profound implications not only for the promotion of human rights, but also for the achievement of sustainable development and of peace and security.” 

-Lakshmi Puri

Read the rest of her statement here.

Take the CEDAW pledge.

Pledge to stand with women and girls around the world in strongly support CEDAW until all countries recognize the equality and human rights of women and ratify CEDAW.

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