Rights Advocate: US Needs to Sign Global Women's Treaty

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 05:25 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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A global treaty establishing women's rights went to a U.S. congressional committee in 1980 and never came out, but momentum is building to get the Senate to ratify the long-stalled pact, one advocate told Newsmax TV on Friday.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women — CEDAW, for short — "needs some kind of bipartisan championship on the part of people who are in the Senate," Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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To date, 187 countries have ratified the treaty, which was written by an American at the behest of President Richard Nixon and introduced to the United Nations in 1976. President Jimmy Carter submitted it to the Senate for consideration in 1980.

Littlejohn said she doesn't know why CEDAW never advanced. But she has heard some of the objections to it, including concerns that CEDAW would require the United States to cede sovereignty in certain legal matters, and that some countries signed the treaty disingenuously.

She said the latter criticism — of CEDAW as a propaganda tool — does have merit.

China signed CEDAW in 1980, "and they first thing they did after ratifying … was actually to institute the one-child policy, which is the greatest form of violence against women and girls in the world," Littlejohn said.

"Also, China has a huge problem with gendercide — the sex-selective abortion of baby girls — which has not gotten better, but gotten worse since they ratified the treaty," she said. "So yes, it can be used as a front by countries to say that they are in favor of women's rights, when in fact they are doing nothing to improve them."

But that flaw argues for more U.S. involvement, not less, in getting all countries to agree on and abide by the terms of the treaty, she said.

CEDAW has the support of President Barack Obama, assorted U.S. senators and a host of rights organizations pressuring Congress to act.

"There is a movement afoot for the United States to ratify this," said Littlejohn, "and whether that is going to be strong enough to overcome the inertia of 30 years of non-ratification is anybody's guess."

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