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

CEDAW is one of the core UN Human Rights Treaties ratified by Poland in 1980. The State Party of the Convention is obliged to fully implement its provisions and report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women every four years.

The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 with an aim to better protect and promote women’s human rights. It is the first international document that defined the term “discrimination against women”. According to the Convention (art. 1) discrimination against women means “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of the marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.

The Convention states that special measures taken in order to accelerate gender equality (e.g. introduction of parity) should not be considered as discriminatory.

The CEDAW Conventions obliges the States Parties to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women. These measures also include the elimination of prejudices, customs and practices based on stereotypical roles for women and men.

The Convention specifies the following areas in which discrimination must be eliminated through special measures:

• Trafficking and exploitation of prostitution (art. 6)

• Political and public life (art. 7)

• Representation and participation (art. 8 )

• Nationality (art. 9)

• Education (art. 10)

• Employment (art. 11)

• Health (art. 12)

• Economic and Social Benefits (art. 13)

• Rural women (art. 14)

• Equality before the law (art. 15)

• Marriage and family life (art. 16)

Poland’s official periodic report along with the shadow report submitted by women’s rights advocates on the implementation of the Convention was reviewed by CEDAW Committee in 2007. The country is scheduled for the next review in 2012.

The full text of the Convention is available at: