The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) guarantees women equal rights to work, pay, benefits and safe working conditions free from sexual harassment. The treaty also prohibits discrimination against women in political activities and requires a minimum age for marriage.
On Friday, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women unanimously approved an optional protocol to the treaty which would allow women, as individuals or in groups, to submit complaints concerning violations of the treaty directly to the U.N. Patricia Flor, chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, commented,”This is a major success for women around the world. They will finally be able to take their complaints and grievances to the U.N. in case they cannot get remedies within their own local judicial system.”
Flor expects that the protocol will be adopted by the U.N.’s General Assembly sometime this year. The treaty, which has already been signed by 163 member states, must then be ratified by ten more countries before it can be enacted.
The United States has yet to sign onto CEDAW. Many women’s rights advocates within the U.N. hope to see the treaty ratified as quickly as possible and predict its approval later this year or by early 2000.