2023 recommendations of UN Women's Rights Committee to China and Hong Kong

On 12 May 2023, CEDAW conducted its sixth periodic review of China, Hong Kong and Macau. ISHR has developed an explainer on the Concluding Observations of the review, summarizing the key recommendations and how civil society can use them to assist documentation and advance change.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) consists of 23 independent experts charged with monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. CEDAW is an indispensable tool for human rights defenders and civil society groups working to promote and protect the rights of all women, and to combat intersecting forms of discrimination.

The CEDAW review on 12 May 2023 was the first such review by the Committee since 2014. During the one-day of dialogue with the Chinese, Hong Kong and Macau governments, Committee members asked many detailed questions. On 25 May, CEDAW released its findings – known as the Concluding Observations – where the experts make recommendations for how the government should ensure protection of women’s rights to comply with the Convention. In the interest of simplifying this document and drawing attention to the ways in which civil society can continue to engage on this issue long after the review itself has concluded, ISHR has developed this explainer.

Download our explainer, in English and Chinese (simplified) to learn more about key recommendations and how civil society can use them to assist documentation and advance change.


On 28 September 2023, ISHR, the Society for Threatened Peoples and the World Uyghur Congress convened an event at the margins of the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the CEDAW’s Concluding Observations with Uyghur, Tibetan, Hong Kong and Chinese women human rights defenders. 

Video (English, with Chinese subtitles): 

Most participants pointed out cases of reprisals against themselves or other activists and groups engaging during China’s CEDAW review. 

Zumretay Arkin from the World Uyghur Congress listed grave abuses facing women in the Uyghur region, including limited participation in cultural, social and religious life in light of threats of punishment, arbitrary detention in political reeducation camps, coerced marriages with men of Han ethnicity, and coerced birth control policies. Most of these have been similarly documented by UN Special Procedures experts, with at least 15 of them still facing unanswered visit requests to China.

For Faye Chen from the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, official statistics show that new laws, including against domestic violence, are failing to adequately protect women in light of the lack of resources for implementation, of training for judges, and limited accountability at all levels. Chen also raised abuses against civil society organisations, prevented from speaking inside the country.

Pema Doma from Students for a Free Tibet echoed strong recommendations by CEDAW for China to abolish the coercive boarding schools system in Tibet, to ensure that girls and women have access to instruction in their mother tongue, and to reverse the closure of schools providing instruction in minority languages. Doma also underscored that coerced labour transfer and vocational training programs relegate Tibetan women to low-skilled jobs, erasing the indigenous wisdom of nomadic Tibetan women, and undermine their religious, linguistic and cultural identity in the name of ‘assimilation’.

Linda Wong, a lawyer from Hong Kong, stressed the shrinking space for civil society and the inaction of Hong Kong’s government and legislature to introduce certain legislative reforms to uphold gender equality and protect women from violence and discrimination. 

Wong also discussed the risks of participation in UN reviews for Hong Kong independent civil society under the National Security Law.


See media coverage of this event on ANI News (English), Radio Free Asia (Chinese), and Voice of America (Chinese).