According to article 1 of the CEDAW Convention:
the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of the marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
The definition is broad and covers not only the direct types of discrimination which are often easy to identify, but also such forms of it, no matter whether intended or not, which result from the laws, policies or practices that are formally gender neutral but that, in practice, have a negative impact on the situation of women. The discriminatory acts may include any distinction, exclusion or restriction that leads to the unequal opportunity of men and women to enjoy or exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all areas of life. According to the Convention the rights of all women should be protected on an equal basis. Article 1 read together with article 3 obliges the States Parties to take all appropriate measures to ensure development and advancement of women. This includes also steps aimed at eliminating barriers faced by women that are rooted in the culture and customs.