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close this bookPassport to Equality (UNESCO, 1999, 40 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface by the Director-General of UNESCO
View the documentPreface by Angela King
View the documentIntroduction*
View the documentConvention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
View the documentPART I.
View the documentPART II.
View the documentPART III.
View the documentPART IV.
View the documentPART V.
View the documentPART VI.
View the documentConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
View the documentThe States Parties to the Convention


*Text reproduced from UNDPI, Division for Economical Social Information.
July 1987 (DESI.E132)

A major step towards the attainment of the goal of equal rights for women was taken on 18 December 1979, when the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The 30-article Convention sets out in legally binding form internationally accepted principles and measures to achieve equal rights for women everywhere. Its adoption climaxed consultations over a five-year period by various working groups, the Commission on the Status of Women and the General Assembly.

The comprehensive Convention reflects the depth of the exclusion and restriction practised against women solely on the basis of their sex, by calling for equal rights for women, regardless of their marital status, in all fields - political, economic, social, cultural and civil. It calls for national legislation to ban discrimination; recommends temporary special measures to speed equality in fact between men and women, and action to modify social and cultural patterns that perpetuate discrimination.

Other measures provide for equal rights for women in political and public life; equal access to education and the same choice of curricula; non-discrimination in employment and pay; and guarantees of job security in the event of marriage and maternity. The Convention underlines the equal responsibilities of men with women in the context of family life. It also stresses the social services needed -especially child-care facilities - for combining family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life.

Additional articles of the Convention call for non-discriminatory health services to women, including services related to family planning; and a legal capacity identical to that of men, with States parties agreeing that all contracts and other private instruments that restrict the legal capacity of women “shall be deemed null and void”. Special attention is given to the problems of rural women.

The Convention sets up machinery for the international supervision of the obligations accepted by States. A committee of experts, to be elected by States parties and serving in a personal capacity, will consider the progress made.

Opened for signature on 1 March 1980, the Convention will enter into force after 20 States have consented to be bound by its provisions, either through ratification or accession.

The full text of the Convention is set out in the pages that follow.