The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was established in 1982 and is composed of 23 experts on women's issues from around the world.
The Committee's mandate is to watch over progress for women made in countries that are the States Parties to the 1979 Convention.
During each of its sessions, the Committee reviews national reports submitted by the States Parties within one year of ratification or accession, and thereafter every four years. In discussions with these States parties’ officials, the CEDAW experts comment on the report and obtain additional information. This procedure of actual dialogue, developed by the Committee, has proven valuable because it allows for an exchange of views and a clearer analysis of anti-discrimination policies in the various countries.
The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States Parties should devote more attention. For example, at the 1989 session, the Committee discussed the high incidence of violence against women, requesting information on this problem from all countries. In 1992, the Committee adopted general recommendation 19, which requires national reports to the Committee to include statistical data on the incidence of violence against women, information on the provision of services for victims, and legislative and other measures taken to protect women against violence in their everyday lives, such as harassment at the workplace, abuse in the family and sexual violence. As of the end of 2007, the Committee has issued 25 general recommendations.