Senate Will Hear Testimony Today On Landmark Treaty Affirming Women’s Fundamental Human Rights

November 18, 2010 12:00 am

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Senate Will Hear Testimony Today On Landmark Treaty Affirming Women’s Fundamental Human Rights

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union submitted a statement to a Senate hearing today urging ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.

The hearing, held by Senator Richard Durbin’s (D-IL) Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, is the first hearing on CEDAW since 2002. The ACLU commended Senator Durbin for holding today’s hearing and strongly encouraged Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to bring CEDAW to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.

“CEDAW recognizes that women’s rights are human rights and our government can no longer put off cementing its commitment to such a basic and fundamental idea,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This treaty promotes the American values of dignity and equality around the world and its ratification is long overdue.”

The primary goals of CEDAW are to eliminate discrimination against women and girls and to promote women’s human rights. CEDAW recognizes that discrimination against women violates principles of equal rights and human dignity and is an obstacle to the full participation of women in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their countries. After taking office, the Obama administration prioritized CEDAW for ratification but the Senate has yet to make a move.

“The U.S. must live up to its reputation as a champion for women’s rights by joining the overwhelming majority of nations in ratifying CEDAW,” said Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Ratifying this crucial treaty will send a powerful message to the rest of the world that the U.S. stands behind its commitment to providing equal opportunity for all – a commitment that is part of our Constitution and laws.”

The ratification of CEDAW would encourage the U.S. to take stronger measures regarding issues such as gender-based and domestic violence, discrimination against women in housing, and access to health, education and employment. CEDAW calls on countries to fight human trafficking and take special measures to end the marginalization of immigrant and indigenous women and women of color. The United States is the only country to have signed but not ratified the treaty. Six other countries have yet to sign the treaty: Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan and Tonga.

“The Senate should delay no further,” said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Congress moves slowly but 30 years is much too long to leave this important business undone. The Senate should act swiftly and definitively to ratify CEDAW.”

The ACLU’s testimony can be found here:

For more information on CEDAW, please visit:

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