United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
Ratify the Women's Rights Treaty
CEDAW defines discrimination against women and calls for action in education, employment, health care, law, politics, trade, and domestic relations. It is the most comprehensive international agreement seeking to support the advancement of women. The Convention is being used in the nations that have ratified it as a tool to secure equal rights for women, such as in Kenya, where the national constitution lacks strong anti-discrimination provisions. The Convention will also assist the United States as it supports human rights domestically and beyond our borders.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee needs to affirm this comprehensive human rights treaty for women by voting in favor of CEDAW. From there, a 2/3 majority vote (66 votes) of the full Senate is needed to ratify the treaty. The United States was very involved in drafting the text of the Convention and signed it, but due to conservative opposition, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has held it hostage for 22 years. Times have changed. The United States can no longer afford to act alone in the world; the CEDAW treaty will be an important resource for US foreign policy.
Optional Protocol Goes Into Force
The 21-article Optional Protocol on CEDAW allows women whose countries have ratified CEDAW to bring petitions of discrimination to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The protocol will serve women and their organizations when they have exhausted national remedies to gender discrimination. The Optional Protocol gives the Committee the right to investigate grave and/or systematic violations of women's rights. When the United States Senate takes serious consideration to the ratification of CEDAW, the Optional Protocol can also be considered.
Nations Supporting Women's Rights
Urge the United States to join the 170 nations that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
UN Member Countries That Have Ratified: 2002 Update
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus Republic, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi.
Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France.
Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgystan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Maritius, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldavia, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda.
Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey.
Uganda, Ukrainian Republic, United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
UN member countries that have NOT ratified:
(* indicates signed, but not ratified)
Europe and North America
Syrian Arab Republic
United Arab Emirates
Asia Pacific/Central Asia
Sao Tome & Principe*
(All nations have ratified.)
Write your Senator and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Write the President & copy the Secretary of State.
The Convention is currently in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A favorable majority vote of this committee is needed to move the Convention onto the Senate floor, where it will need a two-thirds vote of the entire Senate.
Please write your senator. If your senator is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, your letter as a constituent is even more powerful.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the 106th Congress are listed in the order of their seniority:
Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Delaware, Chairman
Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland
Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut
John F. Kerry, Massachusetts
Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin
Paul Wellstone, Minnesota
Barbara Boxer, California
Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey
Bill Nelson, Florida
John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia
Jesse Helms, North Carolina, Ranking Member
Richard G. Lugar, Indiana
Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island
George Allen, Virginia
Michael Enzi, Wyoming
Bill Frist, Tennessee
Chuck Hagel, Nebraska
Gordon Smith, Oregon
Sam Brownback, Kansas
All members of the Senate may be contacted through their local offices or in care of:
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC 20510
Send copies to:
President George W. Bush
The White House, Washington, DC 20500
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Department of State, 7th Floor
2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520
What You Can Say
I strongly support the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women which has been waiting for final action by the Senate for the last two Congresses. It is high time that the US joined the other 168 nations which have ratified the Convention.
The bipartisan effort that led to the ratification of the Race Convention and the Torture Convention ought to be matched by a similar bipartisan effort to ban discrimination against women.
What the Convention does is ban discrimination, and ratification will help the US support the human rights of women around the world especially in places like Afghanistan where egregious violations are occurring.
Women around the world are using CEDAW in their own countries to protect their rights, such as in Kenya, where the Constitution lacks strong anti-discrimination positions.