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Unpacking The Progress: Assessing The Implementation Of CEDAW Convention In India And Its Impact On Gender Equality

"women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's right" by Hillary Clinton

So this quote describes the rights of women which is human right or or which is a very basic rights for the existence for a human being to spend the life.

The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty or a women human rights convention which was signed on 18 December 1979 by United Nation General Assembly. And it come into force 3 September 1981 after ratification by 20 is also called "bills of rights" for women. India signed it in 1980 and ratified it in 1993 with certain reservations.

This convention talks about gender equality in every aspects of life on global level and also it serves as an international treaty addressing the rights and equality of women. It outlines the principles to eliminate discrimination and promote women's rights in various areas such as education, employment, and political participation etc. CEDAW has very influential impacts globally to promote gender equality and encouraging the country to enact the measures that protect and promote the rights of women.

Historical Backgrounds Of This Treaty

After establishment of United Nation Human Rights commission in 1948, which talks about the fundamental human rights principles for all individuals regardless of gender .while it didn't specially address gender based discrimination. The awareness grew about the need to address women's rights specifically. So, there are many conferences held with in the decades 1950-1960.

The 1952 women's International Democratic Federation adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of discrimination against women. Subsequently international women's conferences ,such as those in Copenhagen (1960),and Mexico city (1975). Further emphasized the need for specific measures to address women's issues .the issues held during this period contributed to development of CEDAW.

The 1979, CEDAW convention was the culmination of more than thirty year of work by United Nation Commission on the Status of Women. This Commission on Status of Women was originally established in 1946 as a sub-commission of commission on human rights to monitor the situation of women and to promote women's rights. After a long time of working of this commission for women, in 1967 a Declaration was adopted by United Nation General assembly for women which was Declaration on The Elimination against Women (DEDAW).

What is CEDAW or a analysis about CEDAW
CEDAW stands for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It is an International treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979.

CEDAW is a comprehensive document aimed at promoting and protecting women's rights globally.

The convention addresses various areas of discrimination against women, including legal, political, economic, social and cultural spheres. It calls for the equal treatment of women in all aspects of life and emphasizes the need to eliminate stereotypes and practices that perpetuate gender-based discrimination.

One key aspect of CEDAW is its emphasis on incorporating gender equality into national legal frameworks. Countries that ratify CEDAW commit to taking measures to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure equal opportunities in areas such as education, employment, and participation in public life.

While CEDAW has been instrumental in advancing women's rights worldwide, challenges persist in its implementation .Some nations face difficulties in translating the principles of the convention into concrete policies and practices. Additionally, not all countries have ratified CEDAW, limiting its universal impact.

CEDAW requires the member states not only have an absence of discrimination legal framework, but that their laws and policies should not be discriminating in effect.

It underscores the difference between formal equality and substantive equality between men and women.

Its also provides critical normative standards that are intrinsically linked to the agenda 2030 for sustainable development such as those related to food, health, education, housing, legal capacity, non-discrimination, political participation and equal family relations. SDG five talks about gender equality in the world by the year 2030.

The impact of CEDAW in India
CEDAW has a very great role in India. it has influenced Indian society by promoting gender equality and women's rights . It has contributed to many legal reforms, increased awareness. and advocacy for women's empowerment. However, challenges persist, and implementation varies, reflecting the complex socio-cultural landscape of India.

The CEDAW plays a very significant role in Indian judiciary. It provides a comprehensive framework for the elimination of discrimination against women. India has committed to adhere to its principles because India has ratified CEDAW in 1993.

Indian courts often refer to international conventions, including CEDAW, while interpreting constitutional provisions and statutes related to women's rights. The judiciary may use CEDAW principles as an aid to interpretation to ensure gender justice. Judges in India may draw upon CEDAW principles and recommendations when deciding cases related to women's rights. The principles of equality and non-discrimination outlined in CEDAW align with the constitutional guarantee of equality in India.

Lawyers and activists may use CEDAW to highlight international standards and encourage the judiciary to adopt a progressive and gender-sensitive approach.

India, as a party to CEDAW, is required to submit periodic reports to the CEDAW Committee detailing the steps taken to implement the convention. This reporting process can influence domestic policies and legal reforms.

It has facilitated discussions on issues such as violence against women, discrimination, and the need for legal and social reforms.

There are many laws made in India by the reference of this convention to which India is also a member country. The laws are as under:
  1. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:
    • This law was enacted to address the issue of domestic violence and protect women from abuse within the home. It recognizes the right of women to live a life free from violence and is in line with CEDAW's provisions against gender-based violence.
  2. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:
    • This law aims to prevent and address sexual harassment at the workplace. It mandates the establishment of Internal Complaints Committees and aligns with CEDAW's principles of ensuring a safe and non-discriminatory environment for women in the workplace.
  3. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017:
    • This amendment increased the duration of paid maternity leave for working women in India. It reflects efforts to support women's reproductive rights and work-life balance, which are in harmony with CEDAW's principles.
  4. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994:
    • The Act prohibits sex-selective abortions and the misuse of technologies for determining the sex of the fetus. It aims to prevent the practice of female feticide and aligns with CEDAW's goal of eliminating discrimination against women.
  5. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012:
    • While primarily focused on protecting children from sexual offenses, the act recognizes the vulnerability of girls to sexual abuse. It emphasizes the need for a gender-sensitive approach and aligns with CEDAW's principles of protecting women and girls from violence.
  6. National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA):
    • While not directly influenced by CEDAW, NREGA has gender-sensitive provisions, recognizing the importance of women's participation in rural employment. CEDAW's principles of equality and non-discrimination are reflected in the efforts to ensure equal opportunities for women in employment.
In conclusion, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has played a significant role in shaping laws and policies related to women's rights in India. The country's ratification of CEDAW has led to legislative changes and amendments aimed at promoting gender equality and eliminating discrimination against women. Key laws, such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, and others, reflect India's commitment to aligning its legal framework with international standards.

While these legislative measures mark important steps forward, challenges remain in ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of these laws. Social and cultural factors, along with gaps in awareness and enforcement, pose obstacles to the full realization of women's rights. The judiciary's role in interpreting and applying these laws is crucial, and continued efforts are needed to address systemic issues and promote a more inclusive and gender-sensitive legal system.

CEDAW's influence extends beyond specific laws to contribute to a broader awareness of women's rights and gender equality in India. It has sparked discussions, advocacy, and societal shifts toward recognizing and addressing issues such as violence against women, workplace discrimination, and reproductive rights.

In moving forward, ongoing collaboration between governmental bodies, non-governmental organizations, and the judiciary is essential to bridge gaps, address challenges, and work toward a society where women enjoy equal rights and opportunities. CEDAW remains a vital framework guiding India's efforts to create a more just and gender-equitable society, but sustained commitment and action are necessary to translate these principles into meaningful and lasting change.

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