CHANGE THE WORLD
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.
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:
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.
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.
and facilitating reports on countries under review before the
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other
send me IWRAW's latest publication list and a copy of the CEDAW
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.)
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
301 - 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Telephone: (612) 625-5557
Fax: (612) 624-0068
Web site: www.igc.org/iwraw