In July 2008, Indira Jaising was elected to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
CEDAW, an expert body established in 1982, is composed of 23 experts on women's issues from around the world. The Committee's mandate is very specific: it watches over the progress made for women in those countries that are the States parties to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. A country becomes a State party by ratifying or acceding to the Convention and thereby accepting a legal obligation to counteract discrimination against women. The Committee monitors the implementation of national measures to fulfil this obligation.
At each of its sessions, the Committee reviews national reports submitted by the States parties within one year of ratification or accession, and thereafter every four years. 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 and obtain additional information. This procedure of actual dialogue, developed by the Committee, has proven valuable because it allows for an exchange of views and a clearer analysis of anti-discrimination policies in the various countries.
The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention. For example, at the 1989 session, the Committee discussed the high incidence of violence against women, requesting information on this problem from all countries. In 1992, the Committee adopted general recommendation 19, which requires national reports to the Committee to include statistical data on the incidence of violence against women, information on the provision of services for victims, and legislative and other measures taken to protect women against violence in their everyday lives, such as harassment at the workplace, abuse in the family and sexual violence. As of the end of 2007, the Committee has issued 25 general recommendations.
Queries can be sent to: CEDAW@lawyerscollective.org