On December 18, 1979, owing to the continued existence of discrimination against women, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 34/180, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, herein referred to as “The Convention” describes discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, according to article 2 of the Convention, is to be done by all countries which adopted the resolution through enacting appropriate laws, sanctions, and other measures to protect women at all levels.
The state parties are tasked with ensuring that there is full development and advancement of women in political, social, economic and cultural fields. This is according to article 3 of the Convention.
Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women says that state parties to the Convention ought to ensure that there is family education, so that it is understood that the upbringing and development of children is a responsibility of both men and women.
Articles 7 and 8 provide for the right of women to vote, to hold public office, and to actively participate in decision making in public, political and international platforms.
To preserve women’s right to exist as independent individuals, article 9 of the Convention says that marriage or change of nationality of a husband does not automatically change the nationality of the wife. Furthermore, children can be granted nationality with respect to their mother’s nationality.
In regard to education, article 10 of the Convention says that career guidance and access to studies right from pre-school to higher education ought to be equally accessible to both female and male students. This is in addition to eliminating stereotyped concepts of the roles of men and women and enacting proactive approaches towards reduction of female drop-out rates.
Article 11 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women grants women the right to work, the right to equal employment opportunities, and the right to equal pay. Women also have a right to protection of reproduction in work places whereby they cannot be dismissed on the grounds of pregnancy, they have a right to paid maternity leave, and they have a right to protection during pregnancy if they are working in potentially harmful places.
According to articles 15 and 16 of the Convention, women are equal to men before the law. They have the right to own property, sign and conclude contracts, and they are free to move and choose a place of residence. They also have the right to get married, choose a spouse, choose a family name and they have the same rights as men as regards parenthood.