About the Book

The Circle of Empowerment

The Circle of Empowerment

Twenty-five Years of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
December 2007
Trade Paperback · 392 Pages
$24.95 U.S. · $30.00 CAN
ISBN 9781558615632
The Feminist Press at CUNY


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The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is one of the most important human rights tools ever created. Adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly, it is often described as an international bill of rights for women. These essays and personal reflections, from individuals who have served on the committee that monitors CEDAW, introduce readers to the issues and the activism.

Only a handful of countries have refused to ratify CEDAW; the United States is the only industrialized country among them. The Circle of Empowerment reveals the profound impact the convention has had on women’s lives around the world and its potential to affect American women. With examples and moving reminiscences from Japan to Tunisia to the Caribbean and beyond, this readable collection addresses CEDAW’s impact on women in Islam, labor markets, migration, violence against women, human trafficking, women in politics, and more.

Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schillinghas since 1989 been a member of the CEDAW committee, where she has held the positions of rapporteur and vice chair. She is a lecturer and consultanton women, gender, youth, and human rights in Europe and Asia.

Cees Flinterman, a member of the CEDAW committee since 2002, is a professor of international law at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He is director of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) and the School of Human Rights Research. He has served as a representative of the Netherlands to several UN human rights commissions.

About the Authors

Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling, a member of the CEDAW Committee since 1989, is currently a lecturer and consultant on human rights in Europe and Asia. She has made contributions to various functions of the Committee, making it the strong and well-respected human rights organization that it is recognized as today. Cees Flinterman, member of the CEDAW Committee since 2002, is a professor of international law at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He served on the Dutch delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women and was heavily involved in the formulation and adoption of CEDAW's Optional Protocol. Kofi Atta Annan is a diplomat of Ghanaian ancestry who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1, 1997 to January 1, 2007. Annan was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize for Peace, jointly with the United Nations, "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."