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.
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. . . .