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Undergraduate Research Journal

Abstract

International treaties and agreements like CEDAW are the subject of a large body of scholarly research on the relevance of these conventions to the behavior of states. A subsection of that research focuses on the language of treaties and how they affect implementation of the goals within the treaties. This paper examines the language of CEDAW and assesses how its broadness has effected gender equality implementation in Canada since their ratification in 1981. The scholarly literature on the language of CEDAW is divided between scholars who argue the language is either too broad and leaves the document up to interpretation by the ratifying states or that the broad language understands intersectionality (the combination of oppressions- race, gender, income, education, disability etc.) and allows for the inclusion of all types of women. This study builds on the research into the language of CEDAW by analyzing cases of murder of aboriginal women, poverty of single mothers, and the general feminization of poverty in Canada and how CEDAW has impacted the way Canada has addressed these issues. This study finds that in all three cases the broad language of CEDAW has been inadequate to addressing women’s needs in Canada. In fact, it has allowed the Canadian government to avoid its treaty obligations to women while claiming compliance without actually doing anything.

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