CEDAW – What the heck is it!? Why is it important!?
By Kay Colson
see daw, acronym
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
I have been hearing about CEDAW for a long, long time. As we were working on the 16 Days of Activism, my sister said to me, “CEDAW is really, really important and it’s time the US recognized this importance!” At that point I realized I did not know enough to speak convincingly to the subject when asked. Perhaps I am not the only one who could use a brush up or learn more on CEDAW, so here are some important facts:
1. CEDAW is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.
2. The CEDAW agreement was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly and entered into force in 1981…that’s 30 years ago!
3. Almost all countries have ratified CEDAW, in fact 187 out of 193 countries have said YES to CEDAW.
4. Only 6 nations have NOT said YES to CEDAW. They are:
The United States of America – can you believe this???
5. Women’s rights are human rights but women’s rights are not universally respected … not even ratifying CEDAW is a shameful status for the US! What must this say about us as a country and leader in the world? This surely does not represent the general feelings of US citizens. The United States should be leading the way!
6. In countries that have ratified CEDAW, women have partnered with their governments to improve the status of women and girls, and as a result have changed laws and policies to create greater safety and opportunity for women and their families. CEDAW can make a difference for women and girls specifically to:
- Reduce sexual violence
- Provide access to education & vocational training
- Ensure the right to vote
- End forced marriage, child marriage & ensure inheritance rights
- Help mothers and families by providing access to maternal health care
- Ensure the right to work & own a business without discrimination, trafficking & domestic violence
Passing CEDAW is a must for the United States. The US public strongly supports the principles and values of equality, fairness, education, and basic human rights, but there is much work required to get CEDAW passed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (the Committee that typically reviews and votes on international treaties before they are considered by the full Senate) has twice voted favourably on the CEDAW treaty. However, it has never been brought to the US Senate floor for a vote where ratification will require a two-thirds vote to pass (67 out of 100 Senators). We have to ask ourselves “Why is this?”
Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton were successful in achieving the ratification of similar landmark agreements on torture, genocide and race discrimination. Ratification of CEDAW would continue America’s proud bipartisan tradition of promoting and protecting human rights by extending those rights to cover women and girls specifically. It’s up to us to make CEDAW fully known to and understood by the US public and supported by our congressional representatives.
CEDAW – How to support this important landmark international agreement in the United States:
Become a proactive advocate for the protection of the rights of women and girls … take the pledge for CEDAW, the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the landmark agreement that affirms those rights and offers countries a practical blueprint to promote basic rights and to open opportunities for women and girls in all areas of society. Click here.
I pledge to stand with women and girls around the world in strongly supporting CEDAW until all countries recognize the equality and human rights of women and ratify this important treaty. As such, I will do the following:
- Sign up to get periodic updates about CEDAW.
- Educate my family, friends and colleagues about the importance of CEDAW.
- Urge my organization to sign-on as a supporter of CEDAW.
- Educate my policy makers about the benefits of CEDAW.
- Support CEDAW grassroots activities in the United States.
CEDAW – Know it … Understand it … Advocate for it … Educate others!