Summary and Full Text of CDAW
CEDAW Fact Sheet
Catholic Objections
Interested in trying for the 2002-03 Award for Excellence in Legislation/IssuesManagement?
Interested in a personal meeting about CEDAW with Senator Pat Roberts?

Letter from Senator Pat Roberts
Letter from Senator Sam Brownback (KS)
U.S. in bad company; women's rights
Background of CEDAW
BPW/USA CEO Jane Smith: Testimony
BPW/USA President Leslie Wilkins: Background
Director, Public Policy Jennifer Sweeney: Description of the Day

 

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Summary

Full text: gopher://gopher.un.org/00/ga/cedaw/convention (12 pages)

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

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."

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  • to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life -- including the right to vote and to stand for election -- as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It affirms women's rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children. States parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of women.

Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.

The Convention, which entered into force on 3 September 1981, has, as of June, 2001, 168 States parties.

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Forms of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW)-- UN Treaty

Advocacy with Congressmen: If any local is interested in a meeting with your Congressman, please notify Elisabeth Gehl. She will provide information and set up the meeting time.

Elisabeth Gehl
Grassroots Associate, Public Policy
Business and Professional Women, USA
1900 M Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 293-1100, ext. 162
Fax: (202) 861-0298
Email: egehl@bpwusa.org
Web: www.bpwusa.org

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Letter from Senator Roberts

July 24, 2002

Dear [BPW member]:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I appreciate hearing from you.

CEDAW was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and subsequently referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration. While the Committee briefly considered the treaty in 1994, it was never been referred to the full Senate for consideration under the Senate's constitutional duty to approve treaties. The treaty requires parties to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, law, education, employment, health care, commercial transactions, and domestic relations.

I share your concerns that women and girls are treated unfairly in some nations. I also have serious concern about the impact of this measure on U.S. sovereignty. While it is unlikely the Senate will consider CEDAW in the 107th Congress, I will continue to support efforts to encourage governments of all nations to improve the quality of life for all.

Again, thanks for your comments. Rest assured I will keep your concerns in mind should this issue come before Congress this year. I look forward to your advice and counsel.

With every best wish,

Sincerely,

Pat Roberts

PR:jb

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Letter from Senator Brownback

June 24 & August 26, 2002

Dear [several BPW/Kansas members]:

Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). I appreciate your taking the time to let me know how you feel.

I recognize the unfortunate prevalence of violence and human rights abuses against women around the world, and I feel strongly that discrimination against women must be eliminated. In short, this modern day form of slavery known as forced sexual trafficking must be challenged and stopped. I respect the goal of the CEDAW and understand that the freedom women of the United States enjoy is not guaranteed in other countries.

However, I need to be certain that such a Convention would not infringe upon U.S. constitutional rights and values. I also will be working to ensure that such a Convention would not create another set of unenforceable international standards and dilute respect for international human rights initiatives.

These reservations aside, I am taking pro-active steps to stop the abuse of women worldwide. H.R. 3244, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which I introduced, was signed into law on October 28, 2000. This is the first legislation to specifically address the practice of international sex trafficking of women and children. It seeks to combat the forcible
trafficking of persons for purposes of forced prostitution or other forms of slavery, including trafficking into the United States as well as other countries worldwide.

Specifically, this legislation will punish persons convicted as traffickers in the United States, advance rule of law programs to promote combating of international sex trafficking, authorize grants for law enforcement agencies to investigate, prosecute international trafficking and assist in drafting new legislation. It also creates a new immigration status termed a 'T' visa for trafficking victims found in the United States to promote aggressive prosecution of traffickers. It also directs the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and domestic government agencies to fund programs for victims assistance and awareness, both overseas and domestically. We hope this legislation is the beginning of a movement to eradicate trafficking, which is the largest manifestation of slavery worldwide today.

H.R. 3244 also contains additional pieces of legislation. Most significant among these is the Violence Against Woman Act, which provides relief and assistance to those who suffer domestic violence in America.

On an additional note, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the ongoing threats, such as anthrax, I especially want to thank you for your patience when making inquiries to my office. I am fortunate to have such a dedicated staff, as is the entire state of Kansas. These individuals are working on your behalf across the state and in Washington, DC, which has become one of the front lines in the war on terrorism. We are all working diligently to ensure that all Kansans' inquiries, concerns, and suggestions are answered in the most expeditious manner possible.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. As America prosecutes this war on terrorism, I ask for your prayers for our troops fighting this war, for all the victims of the September 11 attacks and their families, and for all of our sons and daughters at home and abroad who are placing themselves in harms way in order that freedom and justice will prevail for all. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.

Sincerely,

Sam Brownback
United States Senator

SB:jtb

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U.N.'s Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

U.S. In Bad Company Women's Rights
July 12, 2002
Ellen Goodman

Goodman ends her article with the following quote,

 

"Over the past two decades, nearly every president has signed an international human rights treaty. Ronald Reagan signed the genocide treaty. The first George Bush signed the torture convention. Clinton signed the race treaty. Will the man who takes pride in freeing Afghan women see himself as a liberator or a rear guard?

 

"Meanwhile, the stories accumulate. Every time we read about the women of the world, there is an impulse to do something.

 

This treaty is the least we can do."

Ellen Goodman is a syndicated writer in Boston.

More Goodman

 

Background

TNHURLBERT@aol.com wrote:
(8/27/02:Note: the following was sent out while CEDAW was still in Committee. It has now been sent to the full Senate, which is expected to act on it after Labor Day. Now that it is out of Committee, Senator Roberts also should hear from us. Both have been opposed, however, Brownback is reported to be wavering somewhat. BPW/Kansas Legislative Chair.)

 CALL YOUR SENATOR(S) NOW and urge them to vote FOR CEDAW. We have heard that 1 call is interpreted by a congressperson as 19 constituents...let’s give them the feeling of “hundreds” of constituents!!! Members of the Foreign Relations Committee are:”

 

Republicans:

 

Democrats

 

Jesse Helms

NC

Joseph Biden

DE

Richard Lugar

IN

Paul Sarbanes

MD

Chuck Hagel

NE

Christopher Dodd

CT

Gordon Smith

OR

John Kerry

MA

Craig Thomas

WY

Russell Feingold

WI

Bill Frist

TN

Paul Wellstone

MN

Lincoln Chafee

RI

Barbara Boxer

CA

George Allen

VA

Robert Torricelli

NJ

Sam Brownback

KS

Bill Nelson

FL


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Global Women’s Rights Treaty Gets Second Wind
By Peggy Simpson - WEnews correspondent

WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--For the first time since 1994, the U.S. Senate plans hearings on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the U.N. global women's treaty which has been ratified by 168 countries since 1979.

The U.S. hearing, set for May 15 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, does not guarantee that the United States will finally ratify the treaty, but it's a big step forward. The treaty has been in force for decades without United States participation; if the Congress ratifies the treaty, the United States will have a seat at the table when global women's rights issues are debated in the U.N.

The treaty spells out a framework for governments to use in combating discrimination against women and in protecting women's human rights. Although it contains no enforcement mechanisms, it sets out goals--and provides examples of how they can be met--to end inequities in women's legal status, education, work, health care, marriage and family relations, finance and politics. Treaty signatories must report annually to the United Nations on continuing gender inequality in their countries, progress they make and their governments' strategies for eliminating discrimination against women.

North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, who will retire this year, blocked the treaty from being debated while he was committee chair from 1995 until Democrats regained control of the Senate in 2001.

In 2000, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and all the other women members of the Senate except Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison moved to hold hearings on the treaty. But Helms rebuffed them.

"Dream on," Helms told the treaty advocates, saying he would continue to block the measure, which he said had been "negotiated by radical feminists with the intent of enshrining their radical antifamily agenda into international law."

"I will have no part of it," he said.

Helms' support came from anti-feminist and religious groups that claimed the treaty would interfere with "family values" and with pro-life activists' attempts to curtail abortion rights.

Today, the committee is chaired by Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, who supports the women's rights treaty. All committee Democrats favor the treaty and at least several Republicans are probable supporters--but Biden won't call for a vote unless he is assured of at least 13 votes, says Leila Milani, the Senate liaison for a coalition of women's groups seeking the treaty's ratification.

A favorable committee vote would send the treaty to the Senate floor, where 67 votes are required to ratify the treaty. That would be the end of the process--no House action or White House signoff would be required for U.S. ratification to take effect. But Milani says supporters are well short of that 67 total--and other supporters say this year's Senate committee hearing may be a warm-up for full Senate action next year.

Treaty supporters, however, are encouraged that President George W. Bush, through the State Department, has in essence given it his support, even if that support is lukewarm.

"I think that the fact that the Bush administration already has spoken on the issue of women in Afghanistan will help us on this treaty," Milani said, referring to Laura Bush's public statements in support of Afghan women.

Helms could still try to sabotage the hearings or put a hold on Senate ratification of it as a last hurrah, but such a move would not be welcomed by the many Republicans in tight election races this fall.

Coalition Creates User-Friendly Name for Treaty

Although most women's rights advocates have supported the treaty since 1979, few made it a priority, which permitted Helms and other conservatives to effectively block a vote. Another problem that kept the treaty stalled was that, until recently, few people in the general public had even heard of it. Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal says that's partly because of its jargon-heavy name.

"Who knows what a 'convention' is?" she recently told a meeting of the Journalism and Women's Symposium, a national organization of reporters, writers and broadcast producers. "Who realizes that this is actually a global women's rights treaty? Why not call it that?"

A move toward using the more generic "global women's treaty" has taken hold, as a recently created coalition of more than 135 religious, civil, women's and professional groups has urged voter pressure on the Senate to ratify the treaty this year.

Why the action now? It's an election year. The women's vote will be pivotal in deciding which party controls the next Congress. Democrats back the treaty and are pushing for action on it. Moderate Republicans want to avoid giving the Democrats an opportunity to characterize all of them as retrograde on women's issues.

Other Conservatives See Treaty as Hazardous

Although Helms' imminent departure from Congress may move the treaty toward passage, supporters also must address other concerns of opponents. One criticism made by Helms and others was that the convention would prompt an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits demanding changes in U.S. laws or practices. Advocates say the treaty would not trigger any lawsuit not already authorized under U.S. law.

In 1994, the United States ratified another U.N. treaty, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, with language almost identical to the women's treaty. There has been no avalanche of frivolous suits since its ratification, advocates argue. The racism treaty did put the United States solidly on the record against racism.

Right now, the United States cannot have a role in the global women's rights committee sessions which are held three times a year, to assess the global status of women. Linda Tarr-Whelan, a former U.S. ambassador on women's issues to the United Nations, says U.S. ratification of the global women's rights treaty "would allow us to hold our head up on women's human rights issues, to be active in assuring those rights around the world."

Women's rights advocates say that, despite conservative worries and accusations, the women's treaty will not change U.S. abortion laws, prohibit same-sex schools, or affect child-rearing laws in any way.

In countries that have already ratified the women's rights treaty, the document has provided valuable benchmarks for equality and mechanisms for changing laws and systems to achieve that equality, say treaty supporters. The Web site for the United Nations Development Fund for Women carries updates on cause-and-effect actions stemming from its passage by various countries. Zambia, for instance, ratified the treaty in 1985 and six years later extended its bill of rights to cover sex discrimination. After Sri Lanka ratified, its government put in place laws which guaranteed women equal access to land and equal treatment in agrarian reform.

The war in "Afghanistan is a huge factor--and the work by American women to make sure that the voices of Afghan women were not silenced as the Taliban put them under house arrest was a major influence on the strong Bush administration position there," Tarr-Whelan said. "Now we hope the convention will be ratified with Bush support--their support means this will have a very good chance this year."

Peggy Simpson is a veteran reporter who covered the 1970s-1980s women's political movement and has recently returned to Washington after a decade in Central-Eastern Europe, covering the economic-political transition after the fall of communism.

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For more information:

UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM): - http://www.unifem.undp.org/

UN Division for the Advancement of Women - Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of - Discrimination Against Women: - http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/

Feminist Majority Foundation - Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination - Against Women (CEDAW): - http://www.feminist.org/research/cedawmain.html

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Testimony of
Jane E. Smith, Ed. D., Chief Executive Officer
Business and Professional Women/USA (BPW/USA)
Before
The United States Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations
U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women
June 13, 2002

Good morning. I am Jane Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Business and Professional Women/USA. On behalf of Business and Professional Women/USA (BPW/USA), I want to thank Senator Biden, Senator Boxer, Senator Helms and the members of the Committee for inviting me here today. I applaud Senator Biden for holding this hearing and Senator Boxer for chairing it. I welcome the opportunity to represent the working women who are members of my organization to discuss the importance of ratifying the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, often called the Treaty for the Rights of Women.

Business and Professional Women/USA is a bi-partisan organization that promotes equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information. BPW/USA represents the interests of 30,000 working women who participate in 1,600 local organizations across the nation, including every Congressional District. I am here today also as a Steering Committee Member of the National Council of Women's Organizations. In this capacity, I represent a nonpartisan network of 160 women's organizations, collectively representing seven million women nationwide.

The Treaty for the Rights of Women is an instrument to address discrimination against women in their political, cultural, economic, social, and family lives. As Chief Executive Officer of Business and Professional Women, I view it as a business plan because the Treaty provides a "best practice" model for improving the rights of women. It offers us a roadmap of where we hope to go and shows us how we can get there. Research has taught us that improving the lives of women impacts greatly the quality of their families' lives, and ultimately the quality of their nations.

BPW/USA supports ratification of the Treaty for the Rights of Women because it provides a plan for ending discrimination against women, thereby offering an opportunity to better our nation. Additionally, in ratifying the Treaty, the United States heightens its credibility as a world leader on human rights.

Let us take a moment to look at the quality of women's lives in the United States. A glance at BPW/USA's organizational history provides an interesting timeline of the considerable gains American women have made in the last eight decades. BPW/USA was founded in 1919 by suffragettes and the organization has been fighting to achieve equity for women here and abroad ever since. In the 1930s BPW/USA's members lobbied successfully to end the legal practice of denying jobs to married women and in the 1940s we fought for the creation of women's branches of the armed forces. BPW/USA's members played a significant role in the passage of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act and in the 1960s, and since the 1970s we have lobbied successfully for increases in the minimum wage and passage of the Family Medical Leave Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

While BPW/USA's members, and American women in general, have made tremendous strides toward equality in the last eighty years, women around the world continue to experience discrimination in all facets of their lives. This discrimination is no better exemplified than in Afghanistan. BPW/USA's concern for the status of Afghan women dates back to 1956 when BPW/USA's members recommended support of the UNESCO Afghanistan Project-a program to increase educational opportunities for girls. Forty years later, BPW/USA's members continued to advocate on behalf of Afghan women who were prohibited from attending school, participating in government, or working outside of the home by Taliban regime. BPW/USA's members advocated on behalf of their sisters in Afghanistan, passing a legislative resolution in 1999 at our National Conference urging the United States government to exert its influence diplomatically and economically to force Afghanistan's Taliban government to recognize the fundamental rights of women.

In 1999, at the same time BPW members were calling on the Taliban to cease its oppression of Afghan women, we were renewing our call to the United States government to ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women, a call that began in 1982. BPW/USA's members, and those of our sister organizations, understand that other countries look to the United States as an example of freedom and equality and are aware that our failure to ratify the Treaty affects our ability to promote basic human rights. The United States works with impoverished countries around the globe on a daily basis, providing instruction on issues from irrigation to voting procedures to inoculation. But, most importantly, the United States instructs countries on human rights issues, encouraging other nations to adopt policies in line with democratic principles. BPW/USA's members recognize the privileges they enjoy here in the United States-rights that allow them to vote, to start their own businesses, to pursue careers of their choice, to hold political office. These are basic human rights. Yet, we are the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the Treaty for the Rights of Women. How can we ask other countries to accept our guidance and follow our lead on human rights when we ourselves have not committed to a Treaty to end discrimination against women already ratified by 169 countries, including a number of America's allies such as Great Britain, Canada and France? And, what company are we keeping by not ratifying the Treaty? Presently, countries like Sudan, Iran and yes, Afghanistan have failed to ratify the Treaty. Surely, we want to differentiate ourselves from these countries and their documented terrorist practices, oppression of women, and human rights violations. The United States is the leading country of the free world and we must also be the lead supporter of human rights.

Unfortunately, life for Afghan women under the Taliban regime offers only a snapshot of the oppression experienced by women around the globe. There is much work still to be done around the world to ensure equality for women and girls. According to a recent report issued by the World Health Organization, as many as 60 percent of women in rural areas of Peru, Thailand, and Brazil are victims of violence, and in other parts of the world, two in three women experience violence. In Pakistan, Islamic law does not distinguish between consensual sex and rape when banning "adultery," so up to 50 percent of women who report rape in Pakistan are charged with "adultery", and up to 80 percent of Pakistani women in jail have been convicted of "adultery". In Zimbabwe, with an AIDS population of 1.5 million, the rapid spread of the disease has been facilitated by a culture of near-total male-dominance with women risking physical punishment, humiliation or rejection if they refuse sexual relations. Even a request that a would-be sexual partner wear a condom can earn a woman a beating, or can see her returned as an unfit wife to her family.

Internationally, women also experience high rates of maternal mortality, have limited access to education and training, possess little decision-making authority, and have unequal access to health care. The Treaty is an excellent first step toward addressing these issues and many others that women around the world continue to confront. In fact, two years ago, I was a delegate to a special session of the United Nations General Assembly, a follow-up to the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women. At this special session, I was approached by women from all over the world inquiring as to why the United States has failed to ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women. They could not understand why the United States, a model for countries around the globe, refused to ratify a Treaty to end discrimination against women.

The women I spoke with at the United Nations General Assembly meeting also shared ways the Treaty had assisted the women in their countries in gaining political, civil and economic rights. These women's experiences are not isolated examples. A number of countries that have ratified the Treaty have implemented policies to improve the status of women and increase their educational and employment opportunities. For instance, twenty-two of the countries that have ratified the Treaty have instituted programs to promote women's equal opportunity in employment. The Uganda government has created programs to combat domestic violence. Costa Rica is implementing training modules to decrease the incidence of sex crimes. And, India universalized its Integrated Child Development Services program after ratifying the Treaty, increasing significantly the number of girls enrolled in school. These examples illustrate that the Treaty for the Rights of Women has proven to be a valuable tool in broadening the basic rights of women and girls.

Although I have focused much of my remarks on the status of international women, it is important to note that American women have not achieved parity with their male counterparts either. Discrimination still exists-in schools, in the workforce, in civil and political rights. True, American women have made significant inroads but, as a nation, considerable works lies before us. And, this is where the Treaty becomes important. As business and professional women, many BPW members have drafted business plans. These plans provide them with a road map of where they plan to go and how they plan to get there. As I stated earlier, the Treaty should be the United States' business plan for women. Although the Treaty would not impose new requirements in our laws, it would reinforce compliance with already existing federal obligations and laws granting women legal autonomy and protection against discrimination in matters of property and contract.

The United States must continue to strive for equality between men and women because we are not there yet. Currently:

· American women continue to experience sexual harassment in the workforce and many girls are now subjected to sexual harassment in schools;

· Almost one-third of the American women murdered each year are killed by their current or former partners, usually a husband;

· Women are paid 73 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid;

· More than one in eight women lack health insurance;

· Working mothers do not have adequate access to child care. Currently 20 states maintain waiting lists for child care.

· Women are often excluded from medical research, which means doctors know less about how to recognize and treat diseases among women. In particular, our nation is failing to fight adequately the number one killer of American women - cardiovascular disease;

· And, in the United States, about 1 million teenagers become pregnant each year. Approximately 70 percent of these pregnant girls do not receive adequate prenatal care.

While these statistics focus on women, I must emphasize that the fact that American women have not achieved full equality in our society impacts directly on the lives of America's children. The next generation is shortchanged when working mothers must resort to sub par child care facilities, when children witness domestic violence in their homes, and when working mothers do not bring home an adequate paycheck because of unfair pay.

With all of that said, I must emphasize that the Treaty would only provide us with a roadmap or a business plan, it would not be a mandate. The Treaty for the Rights of Women requires regular progress reports from ratifying countries but it does not impose any new changes in existing laws or require new laws. It lays out models for achieving equality and provides recommendations for improved programs and practices. It monitors progress without stipulating changes in the United States Constitution.

Last fall, I participated in meetings with the Administration and the women's community, meetings to discuss ways to include women in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The women's community emphasized that the participation of women in the new Afghan government was essential to creating a stable political and social structure and I am proud to say that the Administration understood the importance of women having a seat at the table. In the words of First Lady Laura Bush, "Afghan women should have the opportunity to play a role in [the future of Afghanistan]". And, in fact, women have played an important role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Currently, the women of Afghanistan are working with their American sisters to ensure that Afghan women participate equally in the drafting of a new Constitution for their country, thereby guaranteeing parity for women under the law. Despite the success of this partnership, I cannot help but think that our role as a guide in the rebuilding process is somewhat hypocritical because of our failure to ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women.

By not ratifying the Treaty, America is expressing to the world that we stand apart, even from our allies, in the quest to end discrimination against women. We must acknowledge that even the most advanced country in the world can still work toward the ideal of equality for all under the law. We must recognize that as a leader, the United States must lead by example. Just as the women's community and the Administration understood the importance of including women in the decision-making process in the rebuilding of Afghanistan I urge you to recognize the importance of ratifying the Treaty for the Rights of Women in the United States' goal of achieving human rights around globe. This is a special moment. The time has come. Let us go forward boldly and ratify.

On behalf of Business and Professional Women/USA, and the National Council of Women's Organizations, I thank the Committee for this opportunity to testify and I welcome your questions.

Thank you.

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BACKGROUND
Subject: CEDAW...a part of history
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 23:31:53 -1000

Aloha everyone,

BPW/USA will once again be a part of history on Thursday, June 13th.

BPW has been asked to give testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations which will convene a much-anticipated and long-awaited hearing on the merits of CEDAW---the United Nations Treaty to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Dr. Jane E. Smith, our CEO, will do the honors on our behalf, as well as representing the voices of so many women across this country that have worked tirelessly on CEDAW's ratification. Our role is vast, as BPW/USA is the only women's organization invited to testify.

CEDAW was introduced 22 years ago and has never been brought to a vote, leaving the US as the only industrialized nation that has not signed. The timing is so vital, our nation's participation in CEDAW is critical to ensuring the rights and dignity of women in Afghanistan and around the globe.

A collaborative effort is currently underway to prepare Jane's testimony, which will be available on the website after her testimony. Aren't you proud to be a member of the organization that is truly the leading advocate for working women...

Leslie Wilkins

BPW/USA President 2001-2002

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Jennifer Sweeney’s description of the day:

Subj: CEDAW hearing: The Low Down!
Date: 6/18/2002 5:25:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: jsweeney@BPWUSA.ORG

All, I have had the opportunity to share with some of you the details of last week’s hearing, but I haven’t caught up with everyone so please see a summary of the hearing below. I will ask Giselle to post an EDITED summary to the web.

**Pre-Game Show**

Jane spoke at a press conference at the Capitol just prior to the hearing. Members of the press were in attendance as well as approximately 50 women from women’s organizations and select progressive organizations. Jane addressed the audience briefly about the importance of ratifying the Treaty. Senator Boxer, Congresswoman Maloney, and Congresswoman Morella spoke prior to Jane’s remarks and Ellie Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and Former President of the National Organization for Women, and Martha Burk, Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, addressed the group after Jane.

**The Hearing**
Jane, Elisabeth and I arrived at the Hearing room to find a long line winding down the hallway and a packed hearing room. The attendees were majority pro-Treaty, but there were representatives from Concerned Women of America in attendance as well.

SENATORS: Senators Wellstone (D-MN) and Feingold (D-WI) and Enzi (R-WY) and BrownBack (R-KS) attended, Senator Helms was in sugery and did not submit questions in his absence!

PANEL ONE: Senator Biden (the Chair) began the hearing with some pro-CEDAW remarks and mentioned his disappointment that the State Department was not sending a representative to the hearing. Then, Biden passed the gavel on to Senator Boxer who has taken the lead on CEDAW for a number of years. Senator Boxer offered some pro-CEDAW remarks and then asked the House Members in attendance to testify. Representatives Maloney (D-NY), Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Morella (R-MD) and Woolsey (D-CA) testified in support (and at length!) of the Treaty. Representative Joanne Davis (R-CA), a junior House Member, testified in opposition to the Treaty.

PANEL TWO: Former Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick testified in opposition to the Treaty but her remarks ended up being more of a victory for our side than for the opposition. Her statement that the Treaty would not do anything positive OR negative was the clincher!

Harold Koh, Former Assistant Secretary of State under Clinton testified in support of the Treaty.

Attorney Kathryn Balmford testified in opposition to the Treaty. This is when things got very interesting! Attorney Balmford is extremely opposed to the Treaty and tried to argue that it was anti-family, would legalize abortion, lesbianism and various other things. Fortunately, Senator Biden used his question period to refute every single one of Balmford’s arguments. In fact, she backed down at one point and stated that she might have worded her arguments incorrectly!

Judy McLennan, formerly of the State Department offered pro-Treaty remarks.

Christina Hoff Sommers testified in opposition to the Treaty. Dr. Sommers began her remarks by saying that she was a feminist and then focused the rest of her remarks on how much this Treaty would hurt men in the United States and that the Treaty was just a tool of Women’s Studies professors who have taken feminism too far. To be frank, she was ...!

Jane spoke and she did an excellent job! She likened the Treaty to a business plan and added a personal note that as an African American she was very grateful for all of the people who stood up for her rights. Jane’s remarks were level-headed, but passionate, and she had the last word!

QUESTIONS:
Senator Boxer began the question period refuting all of the arguments put forward by the opposition.

Senator Enzi (R-WY) read prepared remarks in opposition to the Treaty.

Senator Brownback and Senator Biden went back and forth asking the opponents to the Treaty a variety of questions. Senator Biden ....asked a number of questions but he also used his privileges as a Senator and the Chair to poke fun of the opponents of the Treaty and to characterize their opposition as ludicrous.

Senator Brownback made a statement that he wasn’t sure “where he was going to come down on the Treaty” which was somewhat of a victory since he was expected to be adamantly opposed. He did say that he wanted the Justice Department to do a full review of the Treaty and he also emphasized that he wanted to see action, not words. He appears to like what we’ve done in Afghanistan so perhaps he wants to invade any country that discriminates against women!

Senator Biden closed the hearing by saying that he would submit additional questions to the witnesses.

OVERALL:
The hearing [seemed to us to be] a great success for our side. We’ll keep you posted as to the Committee’s decision.

Thanks,

Jennifer Sweeney
Director, Public Policy
Business and Professional Women/USA
2012 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
ph: 202-293-1100 x.132
fax: 202-861-0298
jsweeney@bpwusa.org

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