U.S. Still Absent From Women's Rights Treaty 30 Years After Its Adoption

December 17, 2009 1:43 pm

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ACLU Calls On Government To Ratify International “Bill of Rights” For Women

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NEW YORK – On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the American Civil Liberties Union called on the U.S. government to finally ratify the treaty. The U.S. signed the treaty in 1980, but it has never been ratified by the Senate.

“The United States cannot wait another 30 years before taking a real stand on fairness and equality for women,” said Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “It is truly shameful that a country that holds itself up as a world leader on women’s rights – and that has far from achieved full equality for women and girls at home – is still not a party to such a crucial treaty. It’s time to finally join the overwhelming majority of nations in ratifying CEDAW.”

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. Last May, the Obama administration prioritized CEDAW for ratification.

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.

“President Obama has taken some bold initial steps toward repairing the United States’ standing on human rights by joining the U.N. Human Rights Council and signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. “Concrete action toward the ratification of CEDAW would send a strong signal that the U.S. intends to prioritize women’s human rights in domestic and foreign policy.”

“The Senate should no longer put off consideration of CEDAW,” said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Thirty years is too long, even by congressional standards, to leave such crucial business undone. We urge senators to move vigorously forward in the new year to ratify CEDAW.”

For more information on CEDAW, please visit: www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm

For more on the ACLU Human Rights Program, please visit: www.aclu.org/human-rights

For more on the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, please visit: www.aclu.org/womens-rights

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