The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted on 1979 by the UN General Assembly. The United Nation’s division for the advancement of women describes CEDAW as the “international bill of rights for women”. As such CEDAW not only addressed directly the issues of DV but also relates it directly on the realm of human rights. The CEDAW although could be said as the most highly ratified international human rights convention could still be seen as primarily focusing on the argument for human rights.
Although it could be said that the convention reflects certain normative standards that are applicable to women's human rights, it could be said that it still does not directly address DV. The CEDAW is made up of a preamble and 30 articles which lay out the parameters of women discrimination and the creation of an agenda in order to eliminate such prejudice. This convention although still focusing on human rights is very unique of its kind because of focusing on the role of culture and tradition as very vital factor in shaping the roles of men and women and other relations within the family.
In addition, CEDAW also acknowledges the reproductive rights of women. Articles 10, 11 and 13 emphasize women’s rights to equal opportunity to education, employment and social activities. Such a provision paved the way for more opportunities for women to leave the household and not to be subjected to the abuses set forth by some men who give immense value on one’s work and the monetary benefits that could be hoisted out from it. The United Nations also noted that these demands are of more benefit to women who live in the rural areas.
The equal access to job opportunities will pave the way for a more fair economic distribution. In relation with this, Article 15 claims that women should also have a fair access in various civil and business matters. More importantly, Article 16 emphasizes women’s equal disposition as those of men in terms of the choice of spouse, parenthood, personal rights and decision over personal properties. Another more important concern that this Convention focuses at is the attention that it gives on the value of reproductive rights.
In certain cases, the role of women as a child bearer has caused numerous amounts of discrimination, more specifically in the workplace. Article 5 emphasizes that child rearing must be a social function that men and women and the society are both and equally responsible of. The women must not be viewed as someone who has the full task and burden of raising a child because people around her must also play their part. In relation with this is the Article 4 of the convention which affirms women’s right to reproductive choice.
The notion that family planning advices from the government should be made available to all women will allow the latter to be aware more of her options and more specially in taking control in matters of sex and child bearing. This provision in the convention would imply that woman’s right in reproductive choice explicitly affirms women’s ownership of her own body, hence forced intercourse even within marriages is totally a clear violation of her rights. The use of contraceptives and other methods of family planning will also allow women to take control of her life and to plan for other things that will not limit her entirely to the household.
The third major area of concern that the Convention focused on is the role of a country’s culture and norms in terms in hindering women in enjoying their fundamental rights. Article 5 makes it clear that states are obliged to alter their social and cultural patterns of individual conduct which clearly harbors inequality between sexes and unequal distribution of power. One of the most important implications of such is the mandatory revision of textbooks, school programmes and teaching methods in order to eliminate stereotypes and inculcate to the youth at such an early age the equal status of men and women in all aspects of life.