The U.S. was active in drafting the Convention and signed it on July 17,1980. It was transmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in November, 1980. In the summer of 1990, the Committee held hearings on the Convention. At that time, the State Department testified that it had not prepared a legal analysis of the convention to determine how it comports with U.S. law.
In the Spring of 1993, sixty-eight senators signed a letter to President Clinton, asking him to take the necessary steps to ratify the Women's Convention. In June of 1993, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna that the Administration would move on the Women's convention and other human rights treaties.
In September 1994, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported out favorably on the Convention, by a vote of 13 to 5 (with one abstention). Unfortunately, this occurred in the last days of the Congressional session, when several senators put a hold on the Convention, thereby blocking it from the Senate floor during the 103rd Congress. When the new Senate convened in January 1995, the Convention was submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations committee for action, where it remained at the end of the 104th Congress in October 1996.
On March 8, 1999, International Women's Day, Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) , Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, made a statement on the Senate Floor expressing his deep concerns over the increased efforts to bring CEDAW to a hearing and eventual ratification.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), on April 12, 2000, introduced S. Res. 286 in support of CEDAW. S. Res. 286 expresses the sense of the Senate that the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations should hold hearings and the Senate should act on CEDAW by July 19, 2000.
The U.S. has put four reservations, three understandings, and two declarations on the Convention (see "Glossary" for full explanation of these terms). The reservations state that the U.S. is not obligated to any of the following: "Assigning" women to all units of military service (though women are free to participate in any), mandating paid maternity leave (article 11-2-b), legislating equality in the private sector (articles 2,3,5), and ensuring comparable worth(equal pay for work of equal value). The understandings say that the state and federal implementations will be made according to the appropriate jurisdiction, that no restrictions will be made to the freedom of speech, expression, or association under the Convention (articles 5,7,8, 13), and that any free health services to benefit women will be determined by states and not automatically mandated by U.S. ratification of CEDAW(article 12). The declarations made are that the convention is "non self-executing," and that disputes on interpretation of the Convention will be handled on a "case-by-case" (articles 29-2, 29-1).
The Convention needs 2/3 of the votes, or 67 "yes" votes, for the Senate to consent to ratification. Action by the House of Representatives is not required for ratification to international treaties. To date, five states, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and South Dakota, have endorsed U. S. Ratification in their state legislatures.
Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
122 C Street, NW, Suite 125
Washington, DC 20001-2172
National Committee on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (fact sheet).
520 N. Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-3202
Grassroots organizing packets can be obtained through:
National Committee on U. N./CEDAW
Billie Heller, Chair, UN/CEDAW
520 N. Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-3202
The Working Group on the Women's Human Rights Treaty
Pat Rengel, Amnesty International, U.S.A., (202) 675-8577
Kit Cosby, Bahais of the U.S., (202) 833-8990
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. . . .