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Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

CEDAW obliges the contracting states to use all appropriate means to eliminate discrimination against women. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979. Switzerland ratified it on 27 March 1997.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) sets out in detail the prohibition of discrimination against women in all areas of life. It not only prohibits all forms of discrimination against women, but also obliges the contracting states to actively adopt measures to achieve equality between women and men, in particular in political, social, economic and cultural terms. The convention makes an international contribution to de facto equality between women and men.

The convention

  • defines discrimination against women
  • provides the basis for realising equality between women and men
  • obliges the contracting states to actively adopt measures to achieve equality between women and men

The convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979 and came into force on 3 September 1981. Switzerland ratified it on 27 March 1997. On 26 April 1997 it came into force in Switzerland.

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

Review mechanism

The convention obliges the contracting states to report to its monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The first report is due within one year of the entry into force of the convention for the state concerned, and thereafter at least once every four years.

The Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE) is responsible for Switzerland's country reports on the implementation of its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Information on CEDAW and Switzerland's country reports (de/fr/it)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Optional protocol

The convention is supplemented by an optional protocol that provides for an individual complaints procedure and an investigation procedure. On 6 October 1999, the UN General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Optional Protocol came into force on 22 December 2000. 

In specific cases, women can submit individual complaints to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In addition to the communications procedure, the optional protocol also provides for an investigation procedure in serious cases of discrimination. 

Switzerland ratified the optional protocol on 29 September 2008, and it came into force on 29 December that year.

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Last update 01.03.2022