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General comments and recommendations

Draft general recommendation No 40. on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems


18 July 2023

The CEDAW Committee considers that the long-term and structural absence of women globally from decision-making systems deprives the world of the potential of half its population.

The Committee, within its mandate, is elaborating a new General Recommendation (GR 40) to provide guidance to States parties on reaching equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems – in both the public and private sectors.

The Committee considers that the achievement of parity as a fundamental human right requires systematic action. The increasing number of crises and disruptive changes affecting the world, such as pandemics, climate change and protracted conflicts, demonstrate that globally governance has failed to deliver on its core task of ensuring peace and security, and that it is high time to rethink the classic patriarchal model of governance.

The Committee also takes into consideration the rapid changes in a world that is becoming increasingly digitalized with the development of new technologies such as AI, which will have a critical impact on decision-making and needs to be shaped in a way that promotes substantive equality of women and men.

The Committee’s GR 40 aims at a new approach to governance based on parity as a core principle and a leading force for transformative change.

The Committee is undertaking this work in close collaboration with UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union and in consultation with States parties, regional organizations, NHRIs, NGOs and academic institutions to ensure a participatory approach.

The Committee aims to adopt GR 40 at its 89th session in October 2024.


Throughout 2023, thanks to cooperation with partners from civil society and academia, the Committee convened four expert group meetings to feed into draft GR No. 40. The meetings brought together experts from academia, civil society and UN entities with relevant expertise. Expert group meetings were held on: “Parity as a response to the crisis of the systems of governance today” and “AI - a risk factor and/or driver of structural change?”, both led by the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, and  Women at the Table; “Women’s equal and inclusive representation in international decision-making systems”, led by the GQUAL Campaign and the American University; and “Women’s equal and inclusive decision-making at the workplace”, led by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at the Australian National University.


General recommendation – flyer

General recommendation – concept note English | Français | Español

Call for comments to the draft general recommendation No. 40 on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems English | Français (unofficial translation) | Español (unofficial translation)

Following the half-day of general discussion held on 22 February 2023, which was the first stage of the process of elaborating a draft General Recommendation on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems, and the organization of expert group meetings on issues of relevance for the General Recommendation, the Committee has produced a first draft of the General Recommendation.

Interested parties that wish to submit comments should do so in writing before 18 April 2024, by sending their comments in Word format to the following email address: [email protected] and indicating "Draft General Recommendation on EIRWDMS" in the subject title. Comments should be submitted in one of the working languages of the Committee, namely, English, French or Spanish, in one single document indicating precisely the paragraphs on which comments are being made. Inputs made directly in the text of the draft General Recommendation and/or in track-changes format will NOT be considered, as comments must be sent in a separate document. All submissions should be written in a concise and focused style and should not exceed a total of 3,300 words. All comments will be posted on the CEDAW web page for the draft General Recommendation on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems. If interested parties do not wish their submission to be posted on the web page, this should clearly be indicated in the email accompanying the submission.

Half-day of general discussion on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems (84th CEDAW session)


A/HRC/53/39: Gendered inequalities of poverty: feminist and human rightsbased approaches

A/HRC/50/25: Girls’ and young women’s activism

A/HRC/29/40: Report on discrimination against women in family and cultural life

A/HRC/23/50 Report on discrimination against women in public and political life with a focus on political transition

OHCHR and IPU, OHCHR-IPU-CEDAW-Handbook-revised-edition.pdf

IPU and UN Women, Map "Women in Politics: 2023"

UN Gender Quota Portal

"Women in Local Government" website

UN Women, Working Paper: Women’s Representation in Local Government: A Global Analysis

Further information

For further information on the upcoming general recommendation, please contact the Secretariat of the Committee, Ms. Céline Georgi, Human Rights Officer, by e-mail at: [email protected]