The Women’s Treaty and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, also known as CEDAW, calls for the equal treatment of women everywhere with regards to domestic violence, maternal health, economic security, and human trafficking.
According to the United Nations, the Convention defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
CEDAW is the only international human rights treaty that specifically addresses the rights of women. It calls on States Parties to take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all areas of life, including political participation, employment, education, healthcare, and family structure.
President Jimmy Carter in 1979 signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, but the U.S. Congress has not ratified the measure, let alone pass any of the necessary implementing legislation.
CEDAW has so far been ratified or acceded to by 189 different countries. The United States is one of the the only countries to have signed but not ratified the Convention.
As the Centre for Women Peace & Security points out in their 2020 report, “40 Years Of The Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women,” this binding international treaty on violence against women is essential to reducing the high levels of gender-based violence and gender-related killings against women and girls. CEDAW would assist in bringing together the fragmented systems and obligations of states through:
- Adoption of legislation prohibiting all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls, harmonising domestic law with the Convention.
- Adoption of and adequately budgeting for diverse institutional measures, including to design focused public policies, to develop and implement monitoring mechanisms and to establish and/or fund competent national tribunals.
- Requiring judicial bodies to refrain from any discrimination or gender-based violence against women.
- Applying criminal law strictly to punish this violence, ensuring the fairness and impartiality of legal procedures in cases involving allegations of gender-based violence against women.
The CEDAW treaty has already been submitted to the Senate. Presidential support will go a long way in lending legitimacy and urgency to this matter, but it is now time the Senate Foreign Relations Committee consent to ratification of the Convention. Further, this act must be made out of a genuine effort to support women’s rights.
As Ann Piccard writes in U.S. Ratification of CEDAW: From Bad to Worse?, “Symbolic ratification of CEDAW, without full commitment to the treaty’s objects and purposes, could bring to an end any meaningful conversation about ongoing discrimination against women in the United States. Unless and until the U.S. internalizes the norms that are articulated in CEDAW, perhaps it is better if this country does not move forward with a hollow ratification that could prove to be worse than meaningless.”
Click below and demand Congress to do the right thing for women around the world by ratifying the Women’s Treaty.