CEDAW is a United Nations treaty that is sometimes described as “bill of rights for women”. It is regarded as the most important international treaty on the human rights of women and girls.
The treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender identity in all walks of life.
To date, 189 states have ratified CEDAW. Those countries have thus committed to achieving de jure and de facto gender equality on all levels and in all areas. This explicitly includes affirmative action to actively promote disadvantaged groups until equality is achieved.
Germany ratified the treaty in 1985. CEDAW therefore has the status of a federal law.
What is CEDAW Alliance Germany?
The CEDAW Alliance Germany is an alliance of 32 non-governmental women’s and gender equality organizations. Together, they form an open political and civil society network.
The alliance is tasked with scrutinizing the implementation of the CEDAW treaty in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government at all levels. Its objective is to enhance the implementation, visibility and relevance of CEDAW within politics and society.
The alliance calls attention to human rights violations and discrimination against women* and girls*, taking intersectional discrimination into account. It takes an active stance against sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism.
The CEDAW Alliance addresses the following areas:
- Institutional mechanisms
- Working life, career/family balance
- Violence towards girls and women
- International women’s and human rights
- Opposition to intersectional discrimination / promotion of diversity
3. How does the country reporting process work?
All parties to the CEDAW treaty participate in the country reporting process. That means the German federal government must regularly submit to the CEDAW Committee a country report on its implementation of the treaty and the individual measures adopted. NGOs are welcome to prepare “shadow” or alternative reports to provide additional information they feel is missing. Human rights experts in the CEDAW Committee scrutinize the country reports and make some closing remarks and recommendations for action that they pass on to the respective government – in this case the German federal government.
NGOs active in the area of women’s policy make a considerable contribution to driving implementation of the CEDAW treaty. They expose government failures and present demands for improvements at UN level.
The CEDAW-Allianz Deutschland influences the multi-stage country reporting process in various ways:
- It contributes to the CEDAW Committee’s catalogue of questions.
- It publishes an alternative report alongside the country report.
Preparing the alternative report, formulating demands, and actively participating in preparatory meetings of the CEDAW Committee – a high-ranking international committee of independent experts – are very effective methods that the CEDAW Alliance Germany uses to push for improvements at national, local and regional level.