Today, Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal joined key members of Congress, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, and over 170 women's rights and major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to voice support for US ratification of the International Women’s Treaty (CEDAW). Queen Noor discussed the treatment of women throughout the world, the advancements women in Jordan have made and the obstacles they still face, and the importance of US ratification of CEDAW. Farida Azizi of Vital Voices explained how US ratification of the treaty will help women in Afghanistan retain their basic human rights. Powerful statements of support were expressed by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as well as Representatives Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Connie Morella (R-MD), and Jim Moran (D-VA), among others.
CEDAW is the most comprehensive and detailed international agreement that seeks the advancement of women. It establishes rights for women in areas not previously subject to international standards. The treaty provides a universal definition of discrimination against women so that those who would discriminate on the basis of sex can no longer claim that no clear definition exists. It also calls for action in nearly every field of human endeavor: politics, law, employment, education, health care, commercial transactions and domestic relations. Moreover, the CEDAW establishes a Committee to review periodically the progress being made by its adherents.
As of July 2002, 170 countries have ratified CEDAW, pledging to give women equal rights in all aspects of their lives including political, health, educational, social and legal. The United States is among the 22 countries that have yet to ratify the treaty—keeping company with such notorious women’s rights abusers as Afghanistan under the Taliban, Monaco, and Sudan.