Women's Universal Human Rights No. 473
Despite years of work to secure equal treatment and equal status for women everywhere in the world, women continue to live in a condition of extreme deprivation. Women, like many men are regularly and systematically denied basic human needs and human rights. Women, unlike their male counterparts, also face gender-specific burdens, abuses, and even torture, with limited legal or practical recourse. Effective local and international laws protecting women's human rights are scarce. Laws that do exist internationally often depend upon voluntary compliance, local cultural, social and political reservations and restrictions.
Recently there has been a resurgence of inter- and transnational human rights groups working to reconfigure standards and legislation to take into account the experiences of women. These efforts are continually meeting with an unwelcome or uninterested reception from most nations. There is a significant deficiency of strong commitment and leadership in these new efforts to alleviate the suffering of women across the world. Coinciding with this lack of interest is a misunderstanding of the devastating implications of women's inequality on the quality of life for all peoples.
In many African countries, women's legal and social impotence in determining their own sexual interactions (within and outside of marriage alike) and protective measures against disease and unwanted pregnancies is highly consequential for an exploding birth rate and astronomical percentages of HIV/AIDS infection. Single Child policies in China combined with the social forces of son preference (the perpetuation of which is rooted in economic, legal, and social norms) are leading to a readily apparent inequality in the population, making women further absent from many areas of life and from decision-making bodies. In developed countries, such as the U.S., and less developed nations, there is substantial discrimination against girls and women who are lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered, or who do not otherwise conform to male expectations of female behavior. Female Genital Mutilation continues to be widely practiced, due to the weighty social and legal consequences for women and families who do not submit to mutilation practices. These horrors are not isolated in some far off land, but are present even in the United States within some immigrant populations. Militaries the world over (the United States included) pose a great threat to women. Rape is frequently a weapon against women at home and abroad, and is even prevalent within military ranks. Exploitation of women surrounding military bases perpetuates similar structures in civilian life. Women workers the world over are often worked like beasts without legal recourse.
The sites of these tremendous abuses are diverse. No nation is exempt from responsibility, nor is the global community as a whole. Women's global human rights must be recognized, enabled, enforced, and protected by every nation, as set out by existing Human Rights standards and by emerging new standards and legislation that take better account of specific Human Rights abuses of women. The United States has a unique opportunity to lead in this area.
Americans for Democratic Action calls upon the government of the United States to take strong action, in its international and domestic policies to support further research into and development of new standards and methods for improving the lives of women throughout the world. Such action may include, but not be limited to:
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Federal Legislation Introduced:
S.2433 : A bill to require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.
Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 12/7/2007) Cosponsors (23)
Committees: Senate Foreign Relations
Senate Reports: 110-331
Latest Major Action: 4/24/2008 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 718.
S.1259 : A bill to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide assistance for developing countries to promote quality basic education and to establish the achievement of universal basic education in all developing countries as an objective of United States foreign assistance policy, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/1/2007) Cosponsors (12)
Committees: Senate Foreign Relations
Latest Major Action: 5/1/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.