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

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the first and only international instrument to comprehensively address women’s rights within political, cultural, economic, and social life. Adopted by the United Nations in late 1979, the Convention offers a practical blueprint for ending discrimination, stopping violence against women and trafficking of women and girls, ensuring education and vocational opportunities, and increasing women’s political participation.


As of 2013, 187 countries (out of 195) have ratified CEDAW. The United States is not on this list, even though it participated in drafting the treaty over 20 years ago. U.S. ratification of this document, which would require the assent of two-thirds of the Senate, would provide a powerful statement of the country’s continuing commitment to ending discrimination against women worldwide and would not require any changes to U.S. law.

OPA Involvement

Representatives of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs (OPA) have been active members of the U.S.-based CEDAW Working Group since its inception. This network of more than 100 national organizations advocates for U.S. ratification of CEDAW. OPA representatives served as co-chairs of this Working Group for 10 years, and have played a key role in establishing the national strategy for ratification of CEDAW. In 2001, the OPA representative collaborated with the CEDAW Working Group to write, edit, publish, and distribute 15,000 copies of a handbook entitled CEDAW: The Treaty for the Rights of Women, Rights That Benefit the Entire Community. This handbook chronicles how CEDAW has helped women in different countries and addresses some of the myths surrounding CEDAW implementation. It was the centerpiece of an advocacy campaign that helped increase the Working Group membership to 180 national human rights, women’s rights, religious, and social service groups.

In late 2010, Senator Durbin convened a hearing in the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. The Office joined over 80 organizations supporting ratification of CEDAW, who jointly submitted testimony to the committee. OPA has regularly signed coalition statements in support of CEDAW ratification.

For more information regarding CEDAW, view the Frequently Asked Questions page of our website.