Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. This is the mantra of CEDAW, the most comprehensive women’s human rights treaty that the US has yet to ratify. The reasons to ratify CEDAW here in the U.S. are clear. Not only will ratification strengthen our global voice to stand up for women and girls around the world, but ratification of CEDAW would also benefit women here in the United States.
You may be asking the question, why now? Do we really think—given the increased polarization and partisan tensions--that we can get two-thirds of the Senate (67 Senators) to ratify CEDAW? I don’t dispute that it is a challenge, but we absolutely believe it is possible. Here are two reasons why:
Before CEDAW there was no international legal mechanism in place that called on states to assess gender inequalities in their country. The Convention draws attention to 30 articles that deal with discrimination on the basis of being a woman. The treaty is divided into six parts - all related to ensuring that women are able to enjoy their “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” as stated in the preamble of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].
The bumper sticker on my wife’s car reads, “Well-behaved women seldom make history!” I believe proponents of CEDAW, the Women’s Treaty, have been minding their manners a bit too much. CEDAW is the most important international mechanism for women’s equality, and provides a universal standard for women’s human rights. The treaty is a basic framework for ending violence against women, ensuring girls access to education, and promoting economic opportunity and political participation for women.
A Mother’s Day Delegation of feminists and labor activists from around the country convened in Arizona a few weeks ago to document the impact of the recently-passed SB 1070 legislation and existing policies, such as 287(g) on women and children. In a climate already steeped with anti-immigrant sentiment, these pieces of legislation authorize violence against women and children, ruthlessly separating family members and criminalizing mothers who came to the United States simply to support their children.
This Saturday I trudged through the snow to attend the 35th Scholar and Feminist Conference put on by the Barnard Center for Research on Women. Quite appropriately, considering the recent weather, we were discussing feminism and climate change. Commenting on the nearly 36 inches of snow dumped on New York City, Janet Jakobsen, director of BCRW, asked in her welcoming remarks, “Is this a once in a century event or a sign of global climate change?”
Over a week has passed since the earthquake in Haiti shook the world. Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti and those who have gone to help in relief efforts. We learn with sadness about the many lives lost, including key players in the Haitian women's movement. Experts are uniting behind the idea that the most effective way to help presently is to donate money.
Many members of the National Council for Research on Women network are involved in various humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Of particular concern is the gender dimension and ensuring that women and children's specific needs are not overlooked or undervalued.
Below is news about some efforts under way in sending both relief and funds to the people of Haiti. We are concerned with efforts to address the present dire situation, but also with those directed toward rebuilding the country's infrastructure and institutions. I hope you find this useful.
As reports filter in from Haiti in the aftermath of Wednesday's catastrophic earthquake, it is difficult to process the sheer immensity of this tragedy. My thoughts go to the tens of thousands of grieving and displaced who are struggling with unimaginable loss. I am also thinking about the hundreds, maybe thousands of colleagues, advocates and humanitarian workers who have sacrificed their lives while trying to rebuild a nation ravaged by hurricane, poverty and continuing mismanagement. The UN mission in Port au Prince is still missing more than 100 staff members and countless schools, clinics and businesses have been destroyed.
I won't go into the long and turbulent history of Haiti's past: revolt against slavery, independence, colonialism, dictatorship, fragile democracy and the US's troubling role in this tested nation's myriad challenges.