Leadership in Civil Society

CEDAW FORUM: Lighting a Fire for the Women’s Rights Treaty

By Allie Bohm*

As a colleague recently reminded me, our system of government was developed not to pass laws, but to make change slowly. Take, for example, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international treaty dedicated to gender equality. Although the U.S. played a major role in drafting the treaty and signed it in 1980, it still has not been ratified by the Senate. We’re hoping to change that this year.


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CEDAW FORUM: There’s No Time Like the Present

The United States remains one of only seven countries that have not ratified CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).  CEDAW is an international agreement on basic human rights for women and the most broadly endorsed human rights treaty within the United Nations, having been ratified by over 90% of UN member states. CEDAW outlines human rights such as the right to live free from violence, the ability to go to school, and access to the political system.


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CEDAW FORUM: The U.S. Needs a Human Rights Treaty for Women Domestically

By Margot Baruch* 

Before CEDAW there was no international legal mechanism in place that called on states to assess gender inequalities in their country. The Convention draws attention to 30 articles that deal with discrimination on the basis of being a woman. The treaty is divided into six parts - all related to ensuring that women are able to enjoy their “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” as stated in the preamble of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].  


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CEDAW FORUM: The Unfinished Business of Ratification

By Linda Tarr-Whelan*

NCRW asked leading research and policy expert Linda Tarr-Whelan to weigh in on the status of CEDAW. In addition to her responses, below is an excerpt from a previously published commentary from Linda featured on Women’s eNEws and The Huffington Post.

On Dec. 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, making it a watershed day for women around the globe.

In those heady days, I was deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter for women's concerns. We expected speedy action after he sent the treaty to the Senate.


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CEDAW Forum: Time to Make History With CEDAW

By Don Kraus*

The bumper sticker on my wife’s car reads, “Well-behaved women seldom make history!” I believe proponents of CEDAW, the Women’s Treaty, have been minding their manners a bit too much. CEDAW is the most important international mechanism for women’s equality, and provides a universal standard for women’s human rights. The treaty is a basic framework for ending violence against women, ensuring girls access to education, and promoting economic opportunity and political participation for women.


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Can You Hear (or Read) Me Now?

Originally posted by Rylee Sommers-Flagan June 24, 2010 on EmoryWheel,com (Emory University's student newspaper)

I’ve long been suspicious that editorialists and editorial boards, despite purporting to speak on behalf of their audiences, are not demographically representative of the larger population. These suspicions were confirmed for me last week in a workshop with a group called the OpEd Project.

According to several studies, men dominate something called “thought leadership” in the United States. Specifically, male voices make up about 85 percent of those present in the national editorial conversation. They supply the perspective in opinion media, vastly outnumbering female representation in talk shows, expert interviews, and op-ed pieces across our country.


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From the Women's Media Center: The Ground We Stand On

Earlier this month, the Women's Media Center featured an excellent "exclusive" written by Kenyan feminist and scholar Achola O. Pala.  Presenting a perspective too often unheard within women's activist communities, Pala argues that feminists from formerly colonized countries should look to their own cultural heritage for guideposts in creating greater justice in their communities.  Here are two gems to whet your appetite:


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