What is CEDAW?

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, is an international treaty that defines what constitutes discrimination against women and what governments should do to end such discrimination.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as “…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 their 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.”

CEDAW provides the basis for ensuring 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. The implementation of CEDAW is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women formed by experts in the human rights from 23 countries.

To read more on CEDAW Articles, please click here.

CEDAW & Commitment of State Parties
By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  • to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

When accepting the Convention, States agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.

CEDAW & Singapore
Within a year of signing the Convention, countries are obliged to report to the Committee on measures which they have adopted to meet the goals. Subsequently, they are required to submit progress reports once every four years. The Singapore government ratified CEDAW in 1995 and has since submitted five reports to the UN CEDAW Committee. The Inter-Ministry Committee (IMC) on CEDAW, comprised of 16 ministries and public sector agencies, oversees the implementation of the Convention in Singapore. In addition to the national reports submitted by governments, also non-governmental organisations are encouraged to submit CEDAW Shadow Reports to the Committee. The purpose of the shadow report is to provide the CEDAW Committee with information on the achievement of the rights and government’s implementation of the Convention obligations.

Singapore’s Fifth CEDAW Periodic Report (October 2015) (Download Report)

SCWO’s Shadow Report, which was presented to the 49th Session of the UN Committee July 2011 (Download Report)

Read also CEDAW Committee’s List of Issues and Questions (xx) and Concluding Observations (2012) in response to Singapore’s Fourth CEDAW Periodic Report submitted in 2009.

Reports submitted prior to 2011:

  • 9 July 2001: Initial Report and Second Periodic Report presented to the 25th Session of the UN Committee on CEDAW ( Download Report)
  • November 2004: The Third Periodic Report covering the reporting time frame of 2000 – 2004. (Download Report)
  • March 2009: Singapore’s Fourth Periodic Report to the UN Committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (Download Report)

See Also

For more information on CEDAW and the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, please visit:

For more information on Singapore’s Periodic Reports, please visit


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