Monday, May 9, 2011

A Happy CEDAW Mother's Day!

This is a guest post by Students for CEDAW co-founders Lara Yeo & Alex Hayes. For more information find them on Facebook or email them at studentsforcedaw[at]

President Carter signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1980. Today, the United States (US) remains one of seven countries – alongside Iran, Nauru, Sudan, Somalia, Palau, and Tonga – that has yet to ratify the Convention. The failure of the US to ratify a UN treaty is not unprecedented. In fact the United States has a history of not ratifying the majority of UN treaties, including the nine core human rights tools of which CEDAW is one.

Such a failure, however, is no cause for complacency. CEDAW matters. The American ratification of CEDAW has been decades in waiting and in such time the global relevance and importance of CEDAW has increased. Reports, statistics, and news articles on CEDAW abound, and the overwhelming conclusion is positive. CEDAW is the single most comprehensive human rights tool that outlines the full spectrum of women’s equal rights. It has also proved practical, translating into concrete change, be it legal, political, social, or cultural, in countries all over the world.

The US has not forgotten CEDAW, as is has proven itself pivotal in bringing about landmark change for the betterment of women and girls all over the world. CEDAW passed through the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1994 and again in 2002, both times never making it to a vote in Senate Treaty No. 96-53. November 2010, marked the first time CEDAW had a Senate hearing scheduled in eight years. The witness testimony one can read online shows resounding American support for CEDAW. President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, and Senator Boxer, to name a few of the many CEDAW supporters in the Administration and Congress, have been public CEDAW advocates.

CEDAW matters in advancing the full recognition and protection of women’s and girls’ human rights. This has been recognized by the current Administration and select members of Congress, and so what about you?

Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), has yet to schedule a SFRC hearing on CEDAW. The scheduling of a SFRC hearing would allow for CEDAW to come up for a vote in the SFRC, bringing it one step closer to ratification. We need an SFRC hearing on CEDAW now, as the longer CEDAW remains invisible without a hearing the less likely is its passage this congressional session.

What you can do as a belated Mother’s Day gift is to share CEDAW:

  • SIGN THE PETITION calling for CEDAW to be ratified in the United States.
  • Learn more about CEDAW at the CEDAW Taskforce website
  • Don’t let this be the last time you think about CEDAW today. Read about it, talk about it, write about it, blog about it!
  • If you are a student, visit “CEDAW: Students for U.S. Ratification,” on Facebook and learn about what other students are doing to raise awareness about CEDAW in their communities.

CEDAW matters and Mother’s Day is an occasion to remember that and to act on behalf of the all the women and girls in your life by calling for CEDAW ratification in the US!

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