Foundation for gender equality: CEDAW

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations in 1979, forms the basis for the legal and actual equality of women and men. By adopting the Convention, states undertake to take measures to put an end to discrimination against women in all its forms. Together with civil society partners, we work for its implementation in Switzerland.

CEDAW entered into force in 1981. Switzerland ratified it in 1997 and is thus one of the more than 185 states that have ratified or acceded to the Convention to date. They are legally obliged to put the provisions of CEDAW into practice.

To put an end to discrimination against women in all its forms, states must enshrine the principle of equality between men and women in their legal framework, abolish all discriminatory laws and enact laws prohibiting discrimination against women. Furthermore, courts and other public institutions must ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination. States thereby aim to eliminate all discriminatory acts against women by persons, organisations or companies.

Every four years, states show in national reports and before the UN CEDAW Committee what measures they have taken, what progress has been made, where challenges remain and to what extent the Committee's recommendations have been implemented.

Implementation in Switzerland

Switzerland submitted its 6th State Report at the end of November 2020. As a member of the NGO Coordination post Beijing Switzerland, an umbrella organisation with currently 35 member organisations, we monitor the implementation of the Convention in Switzerland. The civil society shadow report published in 2021 highlights that violence and discrimination against women persist in Switzerland. Civil society’s demands demonstrate that there is still much need for action.

We pay particular attention to the synergies between CEDAW and the "Women, Peace and Security" agenda. Their linkage has been recognised through General Recommendation 30 on Women in Conflict Prevention, Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations. The General Recommendations assist the CEDAW Committee in interpreting the provisions of the Women's Rights Convention in more detail and in drawing the attention of the States Parties to issues that require special attention. Thus, the Convention is also an important instrument to commit states to implement the "Women, Peace and Security" agenda.