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Treaty for the Rights of Women No. 476

Adopted 2002
Amended 2003
Reaffirmed 2005
Amended 2006
Reaffirmed 2007


On December 18, 1979 the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted the Treaty for the Rights of Women which after decades, represents the culmination of work by the United Nations, governments, and women's rights activists. As of May 2003, 173 parties to CEDAW, but not the United States, which has yet to sign the treaty and remains in the company of other countries we condemn for their oppressive governments such as Iran, Sudan and Somalia. Our failure to sign the treaty represents negligence by the United States government of women's rights and human rights.

The treaty must be ratified by 67 votes in the United States Senate. It was first sent to the Foreign Relations Committee in 1980, and was ignored or buried for over 20 years. In 2002, although the treaty was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with bi-partisan support, the full Senate failed to take action.

In Colombia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Australia, the treaty has inspired improvement of laws regarding domestic violence, health care, legal rights and education. Ratification by the United States would help to ensure respect for basic rights of women around the world. Inasmuch as women's rights are human rights, these rights need to be respected, protected and promoted.

Whereas, the goal of the treaty is to abolish discrimination against women in political, economic and social arenas, and;

Whereas, it seeks to end trafficking of women and violence against women, and to establish equality for women in public life, education, employment, health care, law and property;

Whereas, women's rights are increasingly in jeopardy around the globe;

Whereas, the United States claims to be at the forefront of the women's rights movements, however failure to ratify CEDAW diminishes the U.S. government's credibility and hurts women in the U.S. and abroad;

Therefore, Americans for Democratic Action calls for the following actions:

  1. Urge the government of the United States to place women's issues, domestically and internationally, at the forefront of the agenda,
  2. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee to send the CEDAW treaty to the full Senate floor, for full ratification,
  3. The U.S. should promote universal ratifications by remaining nations of the world.

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No. 476

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