The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is often described as an international bill of rights for women. The Convention defines what constitutes discrimination against women, and creates an agenda for action to end such discrimination. The Convention ensures women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life – including the right to vote and to stand for election – as well as education, health and employment. Countries that have ratified the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice.

Only six nations have not ratified CEDAW yet, including the United States.

CEDAW has been used to improve women’s rights across the world.




  • Japan passed equal employment practices laws and policies.
  • Austria implemented policies to reduce the wage gap between men and women.
  • The United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Spain, and other countries improved maternity leave and child care for working women.
  • Canada created The Institute of Gender and Health to combat health disparities between men and women.
  • Mexico created a law to prevent domestic violence and increase penalties for perpetrators.
  • Turkey raised the marriage age to 17 and allowed women to work outside the home without their husbands’ permission.
  • Colombia created a committee to combat sex trafficking focused on prosecuting perpetrators, and protecting, assisting, and reintegrating victims.
  • Honduras made agriculture training and loans available to women farmers.
  • Kuwait extended voting rights to women.
  • Bangladesh increased girls’ enrollment in elementary and secondary schools. Now, as many girls are going to school as boys.
  • Uganda funded programs to reduce domestic violence.
  • Cambodia developed a women’s ministry.


Find an overview and frequently-asked questions about CEDAW and the full CEDAW text below. 

CEDAW overview

CEDAW text

Learn about the Cities for CEDAW campaign and organizations supporting CEDAW below.

100 Cities for CEDAW

Organizations Supporting CEDAW

American Bar Association supports for CEDAW

Become an advocate. Click here.