Discrimination against women refers to any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex and gender that has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, and on a basis of equality between women and men, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It can occur both through acts that result in, or have the effect of, women being denied the exercise of a right because of a lack of recognition of pre-existing gender-based disadvantage and inequality that women face (non-intended or indirect discrimination), and through the omissions of acts, i.e. the failure to take necessary legislative measures to ensure the full realisation of women’s rights, the failure to adopt and implement national policies aimed at achieving gender equality, and the failure to enforce relevant laws.
Discrimination can stem from both law (de jure discrimination) or from practice (de facto discrimination). The CEDAW Convention recognises and addresses both forms of discrimination, whether contained in laws, policies, procedures or practice.
See also: sex- and gender-based discrimination
(1) United Nations (1979). Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; (2) CEDAW Committee (2010). General Recommendation No 28 on the core obligations of States parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.