Background and Objectives

The International Models Project for Women’s Rights (IMPOWR) is an innovative initiative to establish a global collaborative research database on women's rights under law. It promises to play a unique role in supporting the worldwide implementation of the principles underlying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

IMPOWR aims to:

  • Provide original, editable, searchable and comparable content summarizing current gender equality law as well as the legal reform and enforcement efforts taking place in over 190 countries on 40 specific topics.
  • Serve as a hub of links to numerous other databases, providing a uniquely comprehensive and navigable research tool for primary and secondary source materials on laws, legal resources, law reform projects, reports and assessments of gender equality under the law around the world.
  • Showcase expert analyses of gender equality legal issues and provide models of law reform through original articles and presentations.
  • Link stakeholders, policy makers, legislators, jurists, financial institutions, NGOs, non-profits, research institutions, project directors, law enforcement professionals, social workers, news organizations, legal experts, law schools, law students and volunteers around the globe to a powerfully informed community focused on promoting gender equality and development.

IMPOWR was initiated by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2008. The project is administered by the ABA Section of International Law and co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Women in the ProfessionABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and ABA Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law. Initial funding for IMPOWR was provided through a grant by the ABA Enterprise Fund.


The content of the research database is organized primarily by country under the following seven topic headings:

  1. CEDAW Status
  2. Civic Life
  3. Healthcare
  4. Marriage and Family Relations
  5. Economic and Social Life
  6. Crimes and Violence
  7. Access to Justice

Each broad topic heading is further subdivided into several subtopics. The content provided under each subtopic includes free text contributions, as well as links to other sites and resources, that address the following categories:

 1.  Subtopic Summary Information:

  • The summary is an overview of the status or progress of the topic/subtopic in the country you are researching.

 2.  Current state of the law:

  • Are the rights addressed by the subtopic guaranteed in the Constitution? If so, please cite the provision and language.
  • Are the rights addressed by the subtopic established in law, executive order or regulations? If so, please cite the law, statute, code, order or regulation. 
  • Does the law prohibit discrimination against women in matters covered by this subtopic? If so, please cite a specific law.
  • Does the law prohibit discrimination by government authorities as well as private individuals and entities in matters covered by this subtopic?
  • What penalties may be imposed for discrimination in  violation of the law in matters covered by this subtopic?

 3.  Law reform efforts and projects:

  • What law reform projects on this subtopic have been undertaken or completed?  Please provide a general description and/or link to project details or report, if possible. Use the “Add Project” feature to provide details.
  • What were the results of each project; was it successful?  If so, why?  If not, why?
  • Are the results sustainable over time?  If so, why?  If not, why?
  • What additional law reform projects should be undertaken to guarantee the rights pertaining to this subtopic?

 4.  The role of local NGOs in obtaining and implementing law reforms:

  • Are civil society institutions engaged in the establishment and protection of rights relevant to this subtopic?  If so, which ones (e.g., NGOs, academic institutions, professional societies and organizations, women’s rights groups, etc.)?
  • Has the involvement of civil society institutions had a positive effect?
  • Can or should civil society institutions be more involved?

 5.  Effect of local customs and traditions on implementation and enforcement of law reforms:

  • How do religious, community and/or traditional practices affect the rights pertaining to this subtopic?
  • If these practices have a negative impact on the rights pertaining to this subtopic, how can such practices best be addressed?

Role of Contributors

Anyone is welcome to contribute and edit content in the IMPOWR Research Database. The volunteers who assume the greatest responsibility for drafting initial content are known as “Contributors.”  In addition to contributors, we also recruit experts in the fields found in our topics matrix to provide updates and oversight of the content posted by Contributors in order to keep it up-to-date, relevant and accurate. If you are interested in assisting IMPOWR in one of these two roles, please see our  “How to Get Started” section.