Last week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law held a hearing on the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, commonly known as CEDAW, or the Women’s Treaty. The Women’s Treaty, which is largely with U.S. law, obliges parties to end discrimination against women and addresses areas that are crucial to women around the world, from citizenship rights and political participation to inheritance and property rights to freedom from domestic violence and sex trafficking. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel R. Bagenstos testified in support of ratification of the treaty. You can read their testimony here.
U.S. ratification of the Women’s Treaty would send a powerful message about our commitment to equality for women around the world. The United States has long stood for the principles of equal justice, respect for women, and the defense of human dignity, and people around the world look to our country as a moral leader on human rights. As was noted in the hearing, our ratification of this treaty would lend much-needed validation and support to advocates fighting the brutal oppression of women and girls everywhere, including violence against women, female genital mutilation, child marriage, so-called honor killings, acid attacks on schoolgirls, and rape used as a tool of war.
As Ambassador Verveer emphasized in her testimony, “Women’s equality has rightly been called the moral imperative of the 21st century. Where women cannot participate fully and equally in their societies, democracy is a contradiction in terms, economic prosperity is hampered, and stability is at risk. Standing up against the appalling violations of women’s human rights around the globe, and standing with the women of the world, is what ratifying the Women’s Treaty is about.”
Rachel Vogelstein is Senior Advisor in the Secretary of State's Office of Global Women's Issues and represents the State Department on the White House Council on Women and Girls