Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

The individual complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):

  • may be brought by any individual who claims that her rights under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women have been violated (e.g. by an administrative decision or the court judgement).
  • must be brought in person or by a plenipotentiary acting on behalf of the complainant (if it is impossible because the person stays currently in detention, the complaint may be brought by her family on behalf of the complainant).
  • may be lodged after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged

 

The complaint must be related to the infringement on the rights that has taken place after 22nd March, 2004, i.e. the date of the ratification of the Protocol by Poland (unless the infringement was initiated by other events before this date, or the consequences of these events constitute the infringement).

Moreover, the complaint cannot be anonymous (although the data may be disclosed on request). It will not be considered admissible if the same matter is pending before or has been the subject of a decision by another international procedure, for example at the European Tribunal on Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The complaint should be sent by post to the following address. It need not take any particular form, yet it is recommended to use the model complaint form (to be found below). It is also recommended to ask a lawyer for assistance or address one of the NGOs providing legal aid.

Unlike the complaints procedure in Strasbourg, complaints to this Committee do not have to be submitted within six months of the final decision by a national authority in your case. You may lodge it any time, after all domestic remedies had been exhausted.

Example
R. has been working for three years as a legal advisor in a legal advisor office in Warsaw. She’s one of two women employed there. She was told by her colleague about other employees’ salaries. It turned out that despite doing the same job and having the same qualifications as well as a comparable professional experience gained in other legal advisor offices R. and her female colleague earn approximately one third less than male advisors. R. feels discriminated.

If the above conditions are met, R. may lodge a complaint in the CEDAW against the infringement of the article 11, para. 1, letter d of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, i.e. the right to equal remuneration.

Article 11 of the Convention states: “1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:
(.)
d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work.”

The address of the Committee:

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
c/o Division for the Advancement of Women
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2 United Nations Plaza
DC-2/12th Floor
New York, NY 10017
United States of America
fax: 1-212-963-3463

Complaint procedure guidelines in English can be found here.