A number of key agreements guide governments and advocates in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end it. Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They must submit national reports at least every four years on measures to comply with treaty obligations.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was the outcome of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. World leaders committed to measures in twelve critical areas of concern, to be implemented in cooperation with the UN system, regional and international financial institutions, other relevant regional and international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and women and men at large.
Other key documents include the agreed conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations, including the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) regularly adopt resolutions dedicated to gender equality issues. UN Women supports these bodies by providing expert advice, information and policy recommendations on gender equality issues, often through reports of the UN Secretary-General, and by supporting Member States in all aspects of their work, including in negotiation of resolutions.