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"Passport" is dedicated to women's human rights invoking the text of the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. "Passport" joins a long list of publications produced by NGOs the world over, university professors - specialists in international law or analysts of women's human rights, many women that have had the opportunity to learn about the Convention.

The Women's Convention (common name for CEDAW) is an "agenda for action" undertaken by countries to eliminate the existing obstacles that patriarchal concepts and male domination have contributed to women's inequality, relegating them to positions of inferiority in the private and public spheres.

The adoption of the Women's Convention by the UN General Assembly was the greatest "gift" in that the international community for the first time agreed upon and recognized women's human rights. In sixteen articles, the Convention instructs the ratifying countries that "all appropriate measures are to be taken" for the elimination of discrimination against women. It also requires the realisation of the de jure and de facto enjoyment of the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as inalienable rights of women.

Fourteen years before the Vienna Plan of Action proclaimed that "women's rights are human rights", the Convention implicitly codified women's fundamental human rights to education, health, work, ownership of land as well as the inalienable right of women to decide "freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children". Without mentioning it explicitly, the Convention also denounced discrimination as violence, stating that " a woman is an object of violence because she is a woman", as declared in the General Recommendation No. 19 on Violence adopted by the CEDAW Committee. The importance of the Convention is demonstrated by the fact that its text served as the background paper for the Declaration on Violence Against Women and for the Beijing Platform for Action.

Writing these lines only three weeks after the tragic events of terrorist acts in United States, the world debate is now concentrated on "difference of civilisations, religions and on cultural differences among regions of the world". I am thinking, today more than ever, how universal is the content of the Convention's text that proclaims the abolition of discrimination against women wherever they live, whatever their religion or the culture is, for all are subordinate to patriarchy and male domination. All women throughout the work have to become equal in the enjoyment of their human rights.

My personal thanks goes to the publisher who will extend with this book the knowledge about this historic document empowering many women around the world, making them aware of their human rights and moving toward action to change the existing order of injustice for women, for the establishment of a new culture of human rights for all, women and men.

Ivanka Corti
Member and Former Chairperson of CEDAW
Rome, October 4, 2001.

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Copies of Passport To Dignity are available in September. For the cost $35 plus shipping costs.

Please send your order to pdhre@igc.org


For more information, please contact PDHRE:
The People's Movement for Human Rights Education, 526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025
tel: 212.749-3156; fax: 212.666-6325; e-mail: pdhre@igc.org