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The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979:  aka the “international bill of rights for women.” It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. 185 countries (over 90% of the UN) are parties to this legally binding treaty; the US signed it in 1980 but has not ratified it yet so is therefore not bound to the provisions. Each signatory has to submit national reports. For more information...


Fourth World Conference of Women, FWCW (Beijing Declaration), 1995: Recognized that women’s rights are human rights and therefore affirmed its commitment to equal rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It declared that eradication of poverty and other social issues must be addressed with the equal participation of women and men. For more information...

Beijing Declaration Platform for Action: specifically identifies 12 critical issues that concern women’s empowerment, and calls for actors to achieve those objectives. The twelve critical issues:

  1. The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women
  2. Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to education and training
  3. Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to health care and related services
  4. Violence against women
  5. The effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation
  6. Inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources
  7. Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels
  8. Insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women
  9. Lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women
  10. Stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media
  11. Gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment
  12. Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child

The Outcome Document (Res 23-3) by the General Assembly (GA)

Describes how to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It notes achievements and obstacles to the 12 critical issues that concern women’s empowerment from the Platform for Action. Overall the document recognizes new obstacles to implementing the Platform for action such as decreased political commitment, the adverse effects of globalization, a lack of equal access and training to new technologies, changing migratory flows of labor, progression of the AIDs epidemic and so on. It resolves to call upon all organizations at every level (international, state, civil society) to recommit and address these obstacles.


(IV, section A) At the national level, states should set clear objectives and goals…

(IV, section B) At the national level (NGOs and civil society) states should provide civil society with the tools to advocate for women’s rights, encourage collaboration with governments,

(IV, section C) At the international level (UN and other international and regional organizations) assist governments in implementation, support NGOs, allocate sufficient resources, provide gender-sensitive training to all actors..

(IV, section D) At the international level (i.e. governments) promote international cooperation, promote/improve/collect data disaggregated by sex on social issues, encourage and support public awareness campaigns… 

Millennium Declaration & the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Eight broad goals that are agreed upon by every country and the world’s leading development institutions. Each of these issues affects women and must be addressed with women at the forefront for advocating progress. 

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
    1. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
    2. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
    1. Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
    1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
  4. Reduce child mortality
    1. Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five
  5. Improve maternal health
    1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
    1. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AID
    2. Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
    1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
    2. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
    3. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
  8. Develop a global partnership for development.
    1. Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction— nationally and internationally
    2. Address the least developed countries' special needs. This includes tariff- and quota-free access for their exports; enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction
    3. Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States
    4. Deal comprehensively with developing countries' debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term
    5. In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decent and productive work for youth
    6. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
    7. In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies— especially information and communications technologies.




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Muslim Women's Coalition, (MWC) is a 501(c)3 Organization with Business Identification Number 0400-0055-65. Copyright 2011