“Nature gave women too much power, the law gives them too little”
– Will Henry
Law is necessary to safeguard, assure and implement basic human rights, specially for women. Law can be helped in equating the status, living conditions, working scenario of women with that of men.
With similar objectives in mind United Nations general assembly adopted in 1979 the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women [CEDAW]. It was enacted on 3rd September 1981 and was described as “International bill of rights for women”. The convention is ratified by 186 countries. U.S.A. being the only developed country not ratifying CEDAW with certain reservations and objections. The committee is one of the 8 UN human rights bodies.
The signatory nations are required to submit once every 4years, a report indicating their compliance with the Convention’s provisions in front of the committee on elimination of discrimination against women. This committee is responsible for vigilance over the convention.
The 23 members of this committee are experts of women issues and belong to different United Nations member countries. The Indian member of this committee who served her term till 2011 was Indira Jaising. The committee gave following suggestions to Indian govt. after analyzing and discussing over the Indian report, 2007.
1. To focus on availability of education for women as a fundamental
2. To assure modern sanitation facilities.
3. Work towards elimination of prejudices and practices based on
stereotyped roles for men and women by shaping the context of
text books and training teachers in this regard.
4. To eliminate the practices of witch hunting ; prosecute and punish
those who are involved. Also to provide rehabilitation and
compensation to the victim women.
5. To prohibit abortion on the basis of sex selection. By monitoring
the preconception and prenatal diagnostic technique.
6. To introduce a sex discrimination act. Also to address the issues
gender based violence.
7. To take affirmative actions to increase women’s participation in
8. To provide legal services to marginalized women in rural, tribal
and urban areas to assure their access to justice.
CEDAW watches over the proper enactment of the convention. It calls the state govt. for women welfare with ensuring equality towards minorities. E.g. Muslim, Dalit, North-East, Sikkim based women. The committee recommended for amendments and changes in the following :-
A. Armed Forces Special Power Act
To investigate and prosecute the acts of violence against
women by the military in disturbed areas and during
detention or arrest.
B. Widen the definition of rape
Remove the exception for marital rape and criminalize child
C. Special Marriage Act
To give women equal rights to property accumulated during
the marriage. Also compulsory registration of all
It suggests for increasing the no. of women in govt.
services to increase their establishment at higher
political, administrative and judicial posts. The committee
calls for speedy enactment of the unorganized sector workers
Social Security bill. It will help in closing the distance
between men and women wages. It asks for the adoption of
laws and regulations relating to the status of asylum
seekers, refugees etc.
The committee also appreciates and wants proper enactment of the Domestic violence act, 2005 throughout all states and Indian territories. It appreciates the role of governmental developmental schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme [MNREGA] and ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ in women empowerment.