Justice Canada -- Federal Department of Justice

CANADA ACCEDES TO THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE UN WOMEN'S CONVENTION (CEDAW)

Press Release from the Canadian Department of Justice
October 18, 2002

OTTAWA, October 18, 2002 - The Honourable Martin Cauchon, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Jean Augustine, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women) are pleased to announce that today - Persons Day - Canada is acceding to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

"The right to equality for all those living in Canada is guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," said Minister Cauchon. "Canada's accession ensures that women in Canada have access to two important new international monitoring mechanisms."

The Optional Protocol establishes a process by which individuals who believe that their Convention rights have been violated may submit a formal complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, once all domestic remedies have been exhausted. The Optional Protocol also establishes an inquiry process into allegations of grave or systematic violations of rights contained in the Convention.

"Canada believes that compliance with international human rights instruments is fundamental," said Mr. Graham. "By acceding to the Optional Protocol, we are again stating our commitment to protect women against all forms of discrimination."

"Canada is a strong and consistent supporter of gender equality and women's human rights and has been supporting the principles and goals of this UN Convention since ratifying it in 1981," said Minister Augustine.

Persons Day, October 18, 2002, has been chosen as the date for accession because of its significance in Canada for the rights of women. On October 18, 1929, the British Privy Council declared that the term "qualified persons" in section 24 of the British North American Act included women and, as a result, women were eligible for appointment to the Senate. The "Persons Case" of 1929 was a landmark victory in the struggle by Canadian women for equality. The decision paved the way for women to participate in other aspects of public life.

For more information on the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, please visit:

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/protocol/index.html.

For more information on Persons Day, please visit:

http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/persons/persone.html

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Ref.:

Minister Cauchon's Office
Irène Arseneau
Office of the Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Justice
(613) 992-4621

Department of Justice Canada
Media Relations Office
Department of Justice
(613) 957-4207

Minister Graham's Office
Isabelle Savard
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
(613) 995-1851

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Media Relations Office
(613) 995-1874

Minister Augustine's Office
Naline Rampersad
Office of the Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Woman)
(819) 997-9900

Status of Women Canada
Martha Scott
Communications and Consultations
(613) 995-3788