International reporting

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) promotes the equality of women throughout society, also obligates states to suppress all forms of sex trafficking.

CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979. It was ratified by New Zealand in January 1985. The full CEDAW text can be found here.

The Convention obligates signatory states to end all forms of discrimination against women and contains three core elements:

  1. affirms women’s legal rights, includes all manner of civil and political rights
  2. devotes attention to women’s reproductive rights: “the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination”
  3. addresses cultural conceptions of women and how stereotypes, customs and norms can perpetuate discrimination

Party states are obliged to report four yearly on compliance with the CEDAW. These reports, which cover national action taken to improve the situation of women, are presented to the Committee by Government representatives. In discussions with these officials, the CEDAW experts comment on the report, obtain additional information then make recommendations. New Zealand appeared before the Committee in July 2018.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is responsible for the CEDAW in New Zealand. More information about the CEDAW and a collection of New Zealand’s national reports to the CEDAW committee can be found at their website.

New Zealand has also ratified the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW. This allows the Committee to receive complaints and undertake substantive inquiries into any alleged violations of the Convention. While there is not individual webpage about how to make complaints under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, this information is available in a larger document which covers communications under all the international conventions. Further information about the protocol can be found here.

Making a submission to CEDAW

The Committee welcomes country-specific information from national NGOs in relation to the state reports before it. National NGOs are also encouraged to submit their reports to the Committee’s pre-session working group.

Submissions to the Pre-Session Working Group:

Written reports should be submitted two weeks prior to the beginning of the pre-session working group. At least of 10 copies should be sent. For more details on pre-session details and meetings can be obtained from International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.

Submissions to the Committee:

Written Submissions must be sent electronically to the Committee’s secretariat in pdf format. Additionally 30 copies of the submission must be sent by post. These should arrive at the Secretariat two weeks prior to the beginning of the session. The submission must identify the full name of the NGO and indicate which country the submission relates to.

Oral Submissions: NGOs wishing to make an oral submission before the Committee should contact the Committee secretariat at least two weeks beforehand. It is suggested national NGO’s coordinate as speaking time is limited. Oral submissions are usually no more than 10 minutes overall. NGO’s making an oral submission should bring at least 35 written copies of their statements with them.

Further Information:

A detailed guide for NGO participation with the Committee can be found here and more information can also be found on the Committee’s website or by contacting the Committee directly at [email protected]