The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was the first international treaty concerned with the protection and promotion of women's human rights following its adoption in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Its object and purpose as described by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) is “to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women with a view to achieve women's de jure and de facto equality with men in the enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms” . In the context of care work, the Convention has given little attention to the interconnections between all forms of discrimination against women, unpaid care work, and equality. In fact, the CEDAW has not drafted any provision on women´s unpaid care work and it has a very limited gender analysis about what underpins women´s unpaid care and domestic work as a form of discrimination against women .
The CEDAW's very comprehensive analysis of discrimination has not been extended to the sphere of women's unpaid care work, despite the fact that distinction as regards unpaid care work operates against women and girls because of gender stereotyping which continues to link care work to women as a natural responsibility or to those within the household with less negotiating power (normally girls). These practices and beliefs also exclude women and girls from taking up opportunities that can be crucial for their human development and independence such as education, participation in matters affecting their interests, accessing paid jobs, enjoy free time for leisure, self-care, and health. Undoubtedly, all these things place serious restrictions upon women in the exercise of their rights. In this respect, there is still a huge gap in the CEDAW as regards the application of a more robust gender analysis which should adopt a care lens perspective as regards the multiple forms of discrimination against women.
This research aims to analyse the evolution that the Women's Convention has undergone as regards care work and whether this evolution responds to the needs of a more redistributive agenda on care work for all women independently of their condition. In doing this, I will firstly introduce a theoretical discussion about the principle of equality and non-discrimination in the Women's Convention from a care lens perspective which allows me to better understand the form of equality the CEDAW advocates in order to challenge discriminatory practice as regards women´s unpaid care work. Secondly, I will examine how and if gender stereotypes as regards care are properly treated by the Committee as a means of effectively fighting discrimination against women. Finally, based on the analysis of the CEDAW's general recommendations, I will show the progressive shift the CEDAW has undergone in relation to care work and the challenges ahead for the Women's Convention.