Women’s Rights and Gender Equality at the international level

The promotion of women’s rights and gender equality is the main aim and area of activity for numerous international organisations and institutions. The United Nations with their entity UN-Women and the annual sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women have a decisive role in defining legal norms and standards. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 are of particular importance in the area of women’s rights and gender equality. The Agenda 2030 on sustainbale development includes a stand-alone goal on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

The CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979. The main objective of the convention is the elimination of discrimination against women in all areas of life: in the labour market and social affairs, family life, education and training, political and public life, health and protection of women against violence. The state parties are obliged to submit a report on the convention’s implementation to the Committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW-committee) at least every four years.

In 1999, the UN’s General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW-Convention. Inter alia, the optional protocol entitles every woman who deems herself violated in the rights granted by the convention to submit a communication, i.e. an individual complaint with the CEDAW committee after exhaustion of all domestic remedies. Furthermore, the protocol contains an enlargement of the international protection of women’s rights that foresees an investigation procedure for grave or systematic human rights violations. To make use of this petition procedure, the guidelines of the model form for the submission of communications under the optional protocol should be followed.

Austria and the CEDAW

By ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1982, Austria has committed herself to submit written reports every four years on the progress made with regard to the implementation of the Convention. Austria ratified the optional protocol in 2000.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the convention’s ratification in autumn 2007, an information leaflet on CEDAW was published.

Austria presented its combined 7th and 8th state party’s report to the United Nations on 13 February 2013. It highlights the most important measures taken, projects launched and laws passed with a view to eliminating discrimination against women in social, cultural and economic life from January 2004 to December 2010.

In June 2014, Dr. Lilian Hofmeister was elected the first Austrian to the expert committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW-committee).

In 2015, the first legal commentary to CEDAW in German language was published in cooperation by Austrian and Swiss authors.

Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action

The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality with the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action sets strategic objectives and actions for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality in twelve critical areas of concern. The areas of concerns range from poverty, education and violence over media, economy and decision-making to women’s human rights. The implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is reviewed every five years by UN Women together with UN Member States.

Further information in German

This English information page offers a brief overview of the activities carried out by the Division for women’s affairs and equality in the area of gender equality in the labour market. The short presentation does not cover all fields of activity and projects of the division. Further information in German is available at "Internationales".