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International Conventions Safeguarding Civil and Political Rights of Women

In recent decades, the global community has acknowledged the importance of women's civil and political rights. The inception of international conventions symbolizes a collective commitment to ensure gender parity and uphold women's rights in the societal framework. India, being a signatory to various such conventions, demonstrates its commitment to fortify the rights of women. This article delves deep into the international conventions that protect and advocate for women's civil and political rights.


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):

Introduced in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly, CEDAW stands as a milestone in the path to women's rights. Its underlying principle is to obliterate discrimination against women in all forms.


Key Provisions:

  • Obligates state parties to end discrimination against women in political and public life.

  • Calls for equal voting rights, right to participate in policy-making, and holding public office.

  • Proposes the modification or eradication of existing laws, regulations, customs, and practices which are discriminative.


Case Study: Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan (1997)

The Supreme Court of India laid down guidelines to protect women against sexual harassment at the workplace. The Court derived its foundation from CEDAW, which India ratified in 1993.



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

Drafted in 1948, UDHR forms the basis for human rights globally, and women's rights are unequivocally encompassed in it.


Key Provisions:

  • Article 21(1) guarantees every individual's right to participate in their country's governance directly or through chosen representatives.

  • Article 21(3) emphasizes the importance of the universal suffrage principle.


The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

Ratified by India in 1979, ICCPR emphasizes the protection of civil and political rights.


Key Provisions:

  • Article 3 ensures equal rights for men and women in all spheres, including civil and political domains.

  • Article 25 reinforces the right to participate in public affairs, voting rights, and the right to access public services.


The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995):

This emphasizes empowering women and enhancing their rights across various areas, including civil rights.


Key Provisions:

  • States are urged to repeal laws and practices that discriminate against women.

  • They are called to foster women's active participation in decision-making.

Case Study: The Mary Roy Case (1986): The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mary Roy, granting Christian women in Kerala the right to inherit ancestral property. The decision was influenced by India's commitment to international conventions like the Beijing Declaration.



The International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions:

While primarily focusing on labor rights, several ILO conventions touch upon women's rights, ensuring they are free from discrimination and violence at the workplace.


Key Provisions:

  • Convention No. 100 calls for equal remuneration for men and women.

  • Convention No. 111 advocates for the elimination of workplace discrimination based on gender.


Conclusion: International Conventions Safeguarding Civil and Political Rights of Women

International conventions play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of women's civil and political rights in India. These conventions, coupled with national legislations, act as a robust framework, striving to bring about an egalitarian society where women enjoy their civil and political rights unreservedly. Furthermore, the effective synchronization of these conventions with domestic laws ensures the realization of women's rights in the truest sense.

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