The Integration of the Women’s Convention in Policy & Programs in China

The CEDAW implementation program was a partnership program between JERA International, Peking University, the All`-China Women’s Federation, the Women’s Studies Institute of China, China Disability Research Society, China Women’s University, Institute of Law of Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) and the Central Party School.

The 4 week intensive program worked with female and male leaders from these national institutions in Beijing, China. The program provided participants with skills, knowledge and tools to apply a gender lens to the analysis of policy and practice, to develop action plans to advance the implementation of CEDAW and to engage and interface with their communities of practice and government.

China ratified the CEDAW convention in 1980 and while some measures have been taken by the central government, there remain substantial gaps and challenges to its implementation, especially in the areas of civil union, participation in government, education, health and physical and economic security.

This program aimed to build pathways for the systematic implementation of CEDAW and other Human Rights Instruments to strengthen the position of women in China. In China, there has been some progress in terms of women’s rights, notably by women’s rights becoming part of China’s constitution in the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. However, in practice progress continues to be slow for women to gain substantive rights in civil union, participation in government, education, health and physical and economic security

Twelve Chinese scholars from Beijing universities and institutes visited Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney to engage in training and awareness of policies and programs in relation to CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women), an international convention ratified by both Australia and China, meeting with government departments and agencies as well as women’s NGOs.

The program was funded and delivered through the ALA Fellowship Program. The long term aim of this partnership was to build pathways for the systematic implementation of CEDAW and other Human Rights Instruments which strengthen and advance the position of women in China working with government and non-government organisations through policy and programs.

Through training, education, networking and the development of further educative tools and action plans, the goal of the CEDAW Implementation program aims to build a strong cohort of leaders working at the interface of government in Beijing, China who can apply a gendered lens to policy and practice and gain benchmarked insights (both achievements and lessons learned) into the implementation of CEDAW in the Australian context.

These same leaders will also build awareness of CEDAW and its relevance at the community level. The group identified as their gender equality strategy outcome to draft the first phase of a CEDAW Shadow Report (the civil society response) to be presented with China’s reporting to the United Nations CEDAW Committee in 2011.

This will be the first time that a CEDAW Shadow Report will be prepared in country; previous Shadow Reports have been prepared outside of China.

JERA International Joint CEO’s, Judith van Unen and Carole Shaw, travelled to Beijing in a follow up trip to the program to meet with the delegation and to address several of the participating institutions including scholars and students


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  • to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.