Cedaw, What is it, and Why Should You Care?

Cedaw, What is it, and Why Should You Care?
CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, is a United Nations treaty that sets out internationally-accepted principles that uphold women’s rights. In the united States women have waited 27 years, since 1980 for the Unite States Senate to take action on this United Nations treaty which sets out internationaly -accepted principles that uphold women’s rights.
On Monday, September 24, delegations of activists will converge on the nation’s capital through the 28th to deliver their messages in person.
Acccording to the NOW organization:
Background on CEDAW:

What CEDAW Does – CEDAW prohibits all forms of discrimination against women by legally binding those countries that ratify it to the following measures. Countries ratifying CEDAW must:

* incorporate the equality of men and women in their legal systems,
* abolish discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones,
* establish tribunals to ensure the protection of women, and
* eliminate acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

In addition to these requirements, CEDAW also lays out a clear definition of discrimination and states specific steps that nations are obligated to take to eliminate discrimination. Specifically addressed are: sex stereotyping and customary practices detrimental to women, prostitution, political and public life, health care and family planning, economic and social benefits, rural women, equality before the law, and marriage and family relationships.

Failure to Ratify a Disgrace – It is a national disgrace that the United States – supposedly a world leader in human rights (up until recently, at least) – has failed to ratify the CEDAW. Also known as the Treaty on Women’s Rights, CEDAW has been ratified by 185 countries – more than any other human rights treaty. It is being used by advocates in many of those countries to document abuses of women’s human rights and the failures of those governments to adopt and enforce policies that promote gender equality. The U.S. stands among a small group of outliers such as Liberia, Sudan and a few others which have not yet ratified CEDAW.

Senators Fail to Act – Although it was adopted by the United Nations in 1979 and signed by President Carter in 1980, the Senate has failed in the past 27 years to ratify this treaty, an appalling case of neglect on the part of both Democratic and Republican leaders. It may also be a clear statement on how little esteem is placed on women’s rights by our elected officials! After much prodding by NOW and other women’s rights activists, on July 30, 2002, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally recommended that the full Senate vote to ratify CEDAW. But, again, Senate leadership (then Republican) refused to act on this recommendation and schedule a floor vote. With new Senate leadership, the NOW organization is trying again to push for ratification of CEDAW.

Local CEDAW Activities – Some U.S. jurisdictions are moving forward to implement CEDAW. In 1998, San Francisco enacted a local ordinance which mirrors CEDAW’s provisions. Under the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, the city is implementing CEDAW by creating task forces that monitor policies and actions of city departments (such as the Adult Probation Department, Department of Public Works, the Juvenile Probation Department, the Arts Commission, the Rent Board, and the Department on the Environment) by writing reports on the status of women in these departments and others. Learn more about San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The CEDAW ordinance helps in promoting programs that educate the public on violence against women, advocates policies for city and county governments that ensure equity for women and girls, monitors complaints made of inequality, provides resources for businesses and organizations on women’s rights, maintains a free job resource library open to the public, and works with local organizations and coalitions to promote issues that improve the quality of life for women and girls.

You Can Lead Local Efforts -Your own city or state can make a similar effort to address discrimination against women. Once CEDAW is ratified in the U.S. (or if your state or locality has adopted CEDAW statutes or ordinances), any individual or organization may submit reports to the U.N. CEDAW Committee about how this is being implemented. Additionally, some women’s rights advocates are promoting adoption of resolutions by state legislatures, city or county councils in support of CEDAW ratification at the federal level. Learn more about this process from International Women’s Rights Action Watch.
This really means that Senators, will have to belly up and vote for the right reasons. After all is said and done, they have women who are family members also. They currently are getting paid, (in most cases that is) the same wages as everyone else. They must be treated the same as you or me in times of chaos or medical emergencies and job opportunities. We all must be treated the same if there is a crime committed against any of us, this must happen now, not in anaother six years or later, now! The international treaty must be ratified now! Call your Senators and tell them your feelings, now!


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