Producing Shadow Reports

Beijing+5 and Women's Human Rights

Related Resources: NGO's and Research

Contacting IWRAW



    About IWRAW

The International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) was organized in 1985 at the World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, to promote recognition of women’s human rights under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Convention), a basic international human rights treaty. IWRAW now is the primary international nongovernmental organization that facilitates use of international human rights treaties to promote women’s human rights and rights within families.

IWRAW promotes democracy in action, assisting women—and men who care about women and families—understand their human rights and claim them. It provides technical assistance and research support for projects concerning the rights of women and girls, such as law reform, policy advocacy, and monitoring government performance under international human rights treaties. It facilitates communication and connection between activists who share these concerns. In every region, women use IWRAW’s work to change their world.

Unlike world conference documents and similar declarations, the CEDAW Convention and other human rights treaties carry a continuing legal obligation. Countries that ratify the Convention agree to take all appropriate measures to improve the status of women and to change customs and laws that impede women’s advancement. As of June 2003, the CEDAW Convention had been ratified by 174 countries. At least 150 countries have ratified each of the other five human rights treaties—so women can use them almost everywhere.

The IWRAW global program. IWRAW operates as an international resource and communications center that serves activists, scholars, and organizations throughout the world. IWRAW is based at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. In 1993, an IWRAW Asia Pacific program was established, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to focus on CEDAW-related activities in the Asia Pacific region. IWRAW Asia Pacific is an entirely separate entity.

The CEDAW Convention, women’s human rights, and development. IWRAW was founded on the belief that human rights of women and girls—established through legal, political, and educational systems—are essential to development, and that governments and NGOs can be encouraged to understand and apply the human rights principles to achieve equality. The sixteen substantive articles of the Convention outline the obligations to pursue goals of equality in education, health care, employment, family life, and participation in public and political life. Ratifying countries are obligated to report on the status of women and girls within one year of ratification and every four years thereafter. With the adoption in 2000 of an Optional Protocol to the Convention, women gained an avenue for individual claims of Convention violations as well. A 23-member group of independent experts, the CEDAW Committee, monitors implementation of the CEDAW Convention, reviewing country reports on implementation and addressing individual complaints.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the treaty that outlines generally the rights to education, health care, employment, and family life stated in the CEDAW Convention. It includes a clear and fundamental obligation of equality that complements the terms of the CEDAW Convention and provides women with another, broader venue—the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights—for claiming their rights. With access to and use of the CEDAW process well established, the IWRAW program is engaged in assisting NGOs in using the Covenant and its monitoring process to promote women’s human rights. IWRAW provides information on gender-related issues to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and assists UN experts in evaluating the gender issues under the Covenant. NGO voices are multiplied by having more than one venue for human rights advocacy, and governments pay greater attention when more than one body underscores the obligation to implement women’s human rights.

IWRAW activities include:

• publications: guides to using the CEDAW Convention, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other international human rights treaties; special reports on human rights issues relating to women and girls. Free to groups and individuals from developing countries.

• providing information, training and technical assistance to activists, scholars, and other concerned individuals and groups that work at national and local levels on implementation of human rights treaties with respect to women and girls. Their activities include literacy and legal services projects, test cases, human rights documentation, policy-related scholarship on human rights issues, and advocacy for change in women's and girls’ legal, economic, and political status.

• producing and facilitating reports on countries under review before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other treaty bodies


___ Please send me IWRAW's latest publication list and a copy of the CEDAW Convention

___ Enclosed is my contribution to help support global advocacy for the human rights of women and girls. (Checks should be made out to the University of Minnesota Foundation for the IWRAW program.)




TELEPHONE______________FAX _____________E-MAIL______________________

Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
301 - 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Telephone: (612) 625-5557
Fax: (612) 624-0068
E-mail: iwraw@hhh.umn.edu
Web site: www.igc.org/iwraw

Updated: 6-2003



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