Temporary special measures is the term used in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to describe measures aimed at accelerating the improvement of the position of women with a view to achieving substantive equality with men, and to effect the structural, social and cultural changes necessary to correct past and current forms and effects of discrimination against women, as well as to provide them with compensation for inequalities and harm suffered. This term explicitly states the ‘temporary’ nature of such special measures, while the meaning of the term ‘special’ is that the measures are designed to serve a specific goal and not to cast women subjected to discrimination as weak, vulnerable and in need of extra or ‘special’ measures in order to participate or compete in society.
The use of special measures does not suggest a special favour but rather an entitlement. Special measures are essential to secure equal opportunities in participation and competition in various fields of social life, where social, health and economic burdens may be placed on women as a result of gender stereotypes or their role in maternity.
See also: positive measures
CEDAW Committee (2004). General Recommendation No 25 on Article 4, paragraph 1 − Temporary Special Measures. Available at: