Women’s Rights Treaty Has Historic Hearing Before the US Senate
CEDAW Could Help Trigger the Gender Gap
WASHINGTON, DC— After 23 years of advocacy by women’s rights organizations and just in time for the November elections, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing to discuss the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). "This is a critically important vote for women. The Feminist Majority has spent the past five years fighting to end the oppression of women in Afghanistan. We must ratify this historic treaty so that we don’t let down the women of the world, especially in places like Afghanistan," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. "Domestically, this treaty provides a way for every Senator to say no to regimes that oppress women."
For years, anti-women’s rights Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blocked CEDAW from having its day in the US Senate. Today, the committee’s current chair Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), working with women’s groups, is bringing the international treaty before the Senate. In recognition of the historic nature of the hearing, Biden will hand the gavel over to the committee’s sole female member, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) – who will chair the CEDAW hearing. "I hope that there is neither a gender gap nor a party gap in CEDAW," Smeal said. "But if there is a party gap, CEDAW could move the gender gap to the forefront of the Senate elections in November."
In 1979, the United Nations created CEDAW, an international treaty that defines discrimination and gives states a plan of action to ensure that the rights of women are equal to men. So far, 169 countries – or two-thirds of the United Nations membership – 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 not one of those 169 countries. 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 the Taliban’s Afghanistan, Monaco and Sudan. In addition, the United States is the only industrialized nation whose government has not ratified this treaty. The ratification of CEDAW could represent a long overdue commitment by the United States to protect women from discrimination. "If we fail to ratify CEDAW, it would be national disgrace," Smeal said. "The United States loses credibility on women’s rights and human rights worldwide until it ratifies this treaty."
The Feminist Majority is a national, cutting edge, public policy organization dedicated to advancing women’s equality. Founded in 1987, the Feminist Majority is the sister organization to the Feminist Majority Foundation, the largest women’s rights research and action organization in the country. For further information about the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation, visit www.feminist.org.
To schedule interviews with Eleanor Smeal contact Emilie Karrick at 703-522-2214.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .