FemCities Logo


Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, is a treaty codified in 1979. It is one of the most important legally binding instruments for ending all forms of discrimination against women. Unlike declarations and resolutions, this convention is binding upon all states that have signed and ratified it and must be implemented. (Click here to find broader information on CEDAW and its instruments.) In the General Recommendations No. 12 and No.19 it is highlighted, which articles of CEDAW are to be applied regarding VAW, further gender based violence gets explicitely defined.

General Recommendation No. 12 and No. 19 on VAW

General Recommendation No. 12 (1989) on Violence against Women:
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, states "that articles 2, 5, 11, 12 and 16 of the Convention require the States parties to act to protect women against violence of any kind occurring within the family, at the work place or in any other area of social life", further the Committee recommends to the States parties that they should include in their periodic State reports following points:

  1. The legislation in force to protect women against the incidence of all kinds of violence in everyday life (including sexual violence, abuses in the family, sexual harassment at the work place etc.);
  2. Other measures adopted to eradicate this violence;
  3. The existence of support services for women who are the victims of aggression or abuses;
  4. Statistical data on the incidence of violence of all kinds against women and on women who are the victims of violence.

General Recommendations No.19 (1992):
In Rec. 19 gender-based violence is defined as "violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman, or violence that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty." Gender based
Violence impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights conventions. Among the responsibilities of the state according to Rec. 19 is to take "appropriate and effective measures to overcome all forms of gender-based violence, whether private or public acts [.....]" further:
"States may also be responsible for private acts if they fail to act with due diligence to prevent violations of rights or to investigate and punish acts of violence, and for providing compensation".

General recommendation No. 32 on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women (4. Nov. 2014):
Download Recommendation here.