International conventions on women

international conventions

There have been various conferences, meetings, conventions that took place specifically for the welfare of women. These took place because there are certain sections of our society who are weak and vulnerable. The reason for the same may be that either they may be affected due to some history or deep-rooted customs or may be by nature. The sections of the society being referred in here are- women, children, aged people, individuals who are disabled or may be an individual belonging to a particular race. Though they all have been provided with certain rights and opportunities by the Government of different States but it is found that their rights have been violated very often that too only on the basis of the position they have in the society. It has also been seen that it is usually the dominant section which violates their rights. United Nations Charter has supported them and provided them with basic rights by propagating a beautiful message that everyone is equal and shall be not discriminated on any grounds unless specifically provided. But, to assure that they have equal rank in the Society, several Nations together have agreed and entered into agreements, conventions. In here, we shall be only dealing with conventions for women. Below are the international conventions.

International Conventions

United Nations Charter

It was adopted in 1945 and its Preamble itself sets a basic aim or an objective to reaffirm the faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity of human being and in the equal rights of men and women. Article 1[1] of the Charter further provides that in order to achieve international cooperation among the Nation States, promotion and encouragement of respect towards human beings is necessary and essential without discriminating them on the basis of gender, sex, language or religion.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It was adopted in 1948. It had reaffirmed the principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclaimed that all the human beings have equal rights as they are born free and they shall never be discriminated on the grounds of sex. Even after mentioning this under the UDHR, it was seen that women were primarily discriminated because of the customs imposed by the society and not by law. Therefore, the need for separate and specific conventions for women was required.

Convention on the Political Rights of Women

It was adopted on December 20, 1952 and came into force on July 1954. This Convention basically stated that women shall be entitled to vote in all the elections taking place without any discernment[2]. They shall not be discriminated and should be eligible to vote and for election to all the publicly established bodies[3]. It is also stated that they are even allowed to hold any public position and also are permitted to exercise any public function and power[4]. It was the first Convention which was adopted in order to provide equal status as to men and can also be identified as a recommendable step as it happened after the World War 2.

Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages

It is a treaty decided in the United Nations and is based on the marriage standards. It came into force on 9 December 1964. It states that it is in conformity with the United Nations Charter in order to promote respect universally and ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are for all without discrepancy with respect to race, sex, language or religion. The first and foremost essential of marriage is laid down in Article 1[5] where it states that free consent of both the parties should be there before entering into the marriage. Also, the States shall specify the minimum age for marriage of both the genders and every individual shall be bound to follow it[6]. It also makes compulsory to register the marriage[7].

Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict

It was adopted by the United Nations in 1974 and came into force in 1974 itself. It was proposed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC), on the grounds that women and children are frequently the sufferers of armed conflict i.e. wars, or other emergency situations that cause them to suffer vicious acts and subsequently suffer serious harm. It precisely forbids attacks and bombing of civilian populations[8] and the use of chemical and biological weapons and arms on them[9]. Article 3[10] requires states to abide by the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the Geneva Convention of 1949.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979. It was adopted in order to implement the principles set forth in the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Its concern is to achieve equal status of men and women. It provides that there shall be no discrimination between the women and men. Article 10 even provides with education which mentions that women shall be provided with careers and vocational guidance as to men. Article 11 provides that there shall no discrepancy in the field of employment. It also provides for health care, economic and social life and women in rural areas.  

Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

It was adopted without voteby the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in its resolution on 20 December 1993.The resolution is often seen as complementary to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as it embodies similar principles. Article 1 defines the term ‘violence against women’. Article 3 includes the rights that women are entitled to- right to life, equality, liberty, free from all sorts of discrimination etc. it also provides that States shall respect women and in order to invoke a custom, it shall not avoid its obligations towards women.


These international conventions are of great importance as it binds the States to follow the principles laid down in it. All the above are conventions formed and adopted with respect to women. The advancement of women has been a focus of United Nations Charter since its creation.

“The views of the authors are personal


[1]Article 1(3) – To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

[2]Article 1- Women shall be entitled to vote in all elections on equal terms with men, without any discrimination.

[3]Article 2- Women shall be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies, established by national law, on equal terms with men, without any discrimination.

[4]Article 3- Women shall be entitled to hold public office and to exercise all public functions, established by national law, on equal terms with men, without any discrimination.

[5] Article 1 – No marriage shall be legally entered into without the full and free consent of both parties, such consent to be expressed by them in person after due publicity and in the presence of the authority competent to solemnize the marriage and of witnesses, as prescribed by law.

[6]Article 2 of the Convention

[7] Article 3 of the Convention

[8]Article 1 of the Declaration

[9] Article 2 of the Declaration

[10]All States shall abide fully by their obligations under the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as other instruments of international law relative to respect for human rights in armed conflicts, which offer important guarantees for the protection of women and children.

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