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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 Schopp-Schilling??has 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 consultant??on 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.

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About the Author

Hanna Beate Schopp-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.

Reviews

"This book is a significant contribution to the history of women's human rights internationally. It is eminently readable, moving . . . every facet of women's lives is covered, including the worldwide plague of violence against women. It will become a classic, required reading for lawyers, students, and those interested in international affairs or international jurisprudence. Yet once into it, one can't stop reading, for despite the differences among women, a common humanity and sympathy is revealed that transcends world politics and provides hope for the future." --Arvonne Fraser, co-founder and director, International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) "This book is essential reading for those interested in moving the agenda forward on women's equality. Written by an extraordinary group of CEDAW experts, it provides invaluable insights into the global challenges of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women." --Rebecca J. Cook, Faculty Chair in International Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto "This collective account by former and current CEDAW experts underscores the key accomplishment of the CEDAW Committee: moving the focus of the gender discussion from development and empowerment to rights and equality. This has made all the difference for millions of women in the last twenty-five years and will continue to do so for decades to come." --Marsha A. Freeman, director, International Women's Rights Action Watch, University of Minnesota Human Rights Center "This insightful collection brings together the wide-ranging expertise of the CEDAW Committee in taking on long-standing and deep-seated obstacles to women's equal rights--economic, political, social, and cultural--as well as critical new challenges to those rights brought by globalization. Now celebrating its twenty fifth year, the Convention has been ratified by nearly every nation in the world. UNIFEM has supported CEDAW and its Committee since its inception, and will be there to help it reach new heights over the next twenty five." --Noeleen Heyzer, executive director, UNIFEM "Essential reading . . . and a sobering reminder to U.S. women of how their country's failure to ratify the Women's Convention has resulted in their exclusion from a vital international conversation." --Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania "This book . . . sheds invaluable light on one of the great milestones in the history of human rights." --Philip Alston, New York University Law School "The volume is well edited and accessibly written, covers a broad spectrum of policy, and pulls a few punches in evaluating the work of the committee, the responses of national governments, and the constructive or obstructive roles of NGOs. Summing up: Highly recommended." --M.M. Ferree, University of Wisconsin "Written in accessible prose [The Circle of Empowerment is a] welcome and timely arrival for any ratification debate in the U.S. Senate. . . .[it is] an excellent candidate for inclusion in courses on women's rights, international human rights, and international organizations women's studies/gender studies, law, political science, sociology and cultural studies." --Professor Isabel Marcus, School of Law, State University of New York at Buffalo This book is a significant contribution to the history of women s human rights internationally. It is eminently readable, moving . . . every facet of women s lives is covered, including the worldwide plague of violence against women. It will become a classic, required reading for lawyers, students, and those interested in international affairs or international jurisprudence. Yet once into it, one can t stop reading, for despite the differences among women, a common humanity and sympathy is revealed that transcends world politics and provides hope for the future. Arvonne Fraser, co-founder and director, International Women s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) This book is essential reading for those interested in moving the agenda forward on women's equality. Written by an extraordinary group of CEDAW experts, it provides invaluable insights into the global challenges of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. Rebecca J. Cook, Faculty Chair in International Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto This collective account by former and current CEDAW experts underscores the key accomplishment of the CEDAW Committee: moving the focus of the gender discussion from development and empowerment to rights and equality. This has made all the difference for millions of women in the last twenty-five years and will continue to do so for decades to come. Marsha A. Freeman, director, International Women's Rights Action Watch, University of Minnesota Human Rights Center This insightful collection brings together the wide-ranging expertise of the CEDAW Committee in taking on long-standing and deep-seated obstacles to women's equal rightseconomic, political, social, and culturalas well as critical new challenges to those rights brought by globalization. Now celebrating its twenty fifth year, the Convention has been ratified by nearly every nation in the world. UNIFEM has supported CEDAW and its Committee since its inception, and will be there to help it reach new heights over the next twenty five. Noeleen Heyzer, executive director, UNIFEM "Essential reading . . . and a sobering reminder to U.S. women of how their country's failure to ratify the Women's Convention has resulted in their exclusion from a vital international conversation." Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania "This book . . . sheds invaluable light on one of the great milestones in the history of human rights." Philip Alston, New York University Law School "The volume is well edited and accessibly written, covers a broad spectrum of policy, and pulls a few punches in evaluating the work of the committee, the responses of national governments, and the constructive or obstructive roles of NGOs. Summing up: Highly recommended." M.M. Ferree, University of Wisconsin "Written in accessible prose ["The Circle of Empowerment" is a] welcome and timely arrival for any ratification debate in the U.S. Senate. . . .[it is] an excellent candidate for inclusion in courses on women's rights, international human rights, and international organizations women's studies/gender studies, law, political science, sociology and cultural studies." Professor Isabel Marcus, School of Law, State University of New York at Buffalo"

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