CEDAW refers to the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This convention is often referred to as an international bill of rights for women, because it covers topics from equality in employment to violence against women.
The text of CEDAW is set out in the Convention itself. The UK has also signed up to the CEDAW Optional Protocol. In addition the CEDAW Committee at the UN is entrusted with the authority to interpret the treaty and develop General Recommendations on cross-cutting themes that affect women’s equality. In 2013 the CEDAW Committee focused on access to justice for women and in 2014 they will be looking in particular at access to education.
Signatories to CEDAW are obliged to submit a report to the Committee every four years to monitor compliance with the Convention and the UK last submitted a report in 2012, which was examined in 2013. NGOs submitted shadow reports and, after a day-long examination of the UK, the Committee finalised Concluding Observations.
The UK NGO delegation to the 2013 examination of the UK was accompanied by a group of young people from Big Voice London, who put on an exhibition for the CEDAW Committee with the support of UAL. The exhibition used the colours of the suffragette flag – violet for dignity, white for purity and green for hope. Some images from the examination are available here and some of the young people’s designs – as photographed by a member of #TeamCEDAW – are shown below.