If you have not heard of it before, CEDAW stands for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. "The Convention defines discrimination against women as ' . . . any distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex, which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.'" —United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
That sounds pretty good. It sounds like something that everyone should be behind. Right? It was created in 1979, and the United States is one of the few countries that still has not ratified it. The last time it came in front of the Senate was 2002, and many people believe it will come up in front of the Senate when the lame-duck session opens this Thursday (tomorrow). Only two-thirds of the Senate need to be pro-CEDAW for it to be ratified into US law.
So, why do I care? Well, while the language of the convention initially sounds great, there may be some very controversial issues lurking behind its nice words.
Here are some clips from some of the articles I have read in trying to figure out the freedoms at stake.
"We can already see the damage that ratifying CEDAW could cause the US simply by looking at the way the UN is treating those countries that have already ratified CEDAW. Among other things, these countries have been pressured by the UN to legalize prostitution, eliminate Mother's Day observances, put more children in day care, and liberalize their abortion laws." —Family Watch International
"A UN panel last week lambasted US human rights policy. . . . The 35 US delegates bore the fury of a periodic review in which UN member states scrutinize a country's human rights record. The process resulted in no fewer than 228 recommendations for US policy, with many urging the country to ratify a host of controversial treaties and declarations. . . . The US delegation pledged that it remained 'strongly committed' to ratifying the CEDAW women's treaty and a disabilities treaty. . . . Heated debate in the United States has swirled around the question of ratifying many of the UN human rights treaties. The CEDAW women's treaty has proven a favorite of liberals who support abortion rights but hasn't reached the Senate floor. Treaty critics warn its ratification would incorporate a radical feminist agenda, a view borne out by dozens of non-binding recommendations from the committee that oversees the treaty. A recent analysis found that the CEDAW committee has pressured at least 80 countries to legalize or liberalize abortion laws, despite the fact that the treaty is silent on abortion." —Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
"The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the CEDAW treaty that has been used to pressure nations to legalize abortions. While the treaty is meant to promote women's rights, United Nation's agencies have used it to promote abortion. The treaty has been ratified by 186 nations worldwide . . . ." —LifeNews.com
". . . a close look at the content of the treaty shows that the Senate has been wise to resist ratification for 31 years. Though CEDAW contains many worthy declarations, its key provisions are 1970s egalitarian feminism preserved in diplomatic amber. Releasing those aged provisions into 21st-century America would be strange at best and would risk seriously compromising the privacy, well-being, and basic freedoms of Americans. . . . Under CEDAW, even private behavior—such as how couples divide household and child-care chores—is subject to government oversight and modification. The UN monitoring committee routinely censures countries like Denmark, Norway, and Iceland for failing to prevent women from taking primary care of children, a practice it deems 'discriminatory.'" —National Review Online
Do I agree that women should not be discriminated against for being women? Yes. However, I believe that I may disagree with those in favor of CEDAW as to what discrimination could be defined as. I do not believe that being a mother and housewife is discriminatory in any way. I LOVE having those roles. Motherhood is an honor.
And I do not think that ratifying CEDAW in the US would help the plight of women throughout the world. But I do believe that much needs to be done to help women in the United States and the world. I just do not believe the CEDAW is the correct way for it to be done. I am not completely ignorant (but I cannot in any way claim knowledge of everything) of the atrocities that women deal with simply for being women, but I honestly believe that CEDAW will not help prevent those atrocities. And the issue at stake here is US policy, not world policy.
So, that's my opinion, and this is my blog. You are welcome to put your own opinions on your blogs and facebook notes. If you do disagree, I am interested in your opinion, so please place a link in a comment. (And of course, I am interested in the comments of those who agree as well.)
I think this is an issue that is worthy of notice. Please do your own research and thinking and then contact your Senators with your opinion. If you wish to send your Senators an e-mail urging them to vote against ratifying CEDAW, then you can click this link. Technically, even if you are pro-CEDAW, you could use the link to contact your Senators. You would just have to change the automatic text that it creates for you.