• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Women's Treaty Still Threatens American Rights and Values

    This week the 49th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is meeting at the U.N. to review how Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Italy, Nepal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Zambia have complied with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

    In the recent issue of Policy Review, Christina Hoff Sommers’ Feminism by Treaty identifies the threats that U.S. ratification of the CEDAW treaty would pose to many of the freedoms that Americans enjoy today. As Sommers explains, longtime supporters of the treaty—including Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law that held a hearing on ratification last year, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Barbara Boxer (D–CA), and State Department legal advisor Harold Koh—have been pushing anew for the U.S. Senate to ratify CEDAW. These supporters emphatically insist that joining the so-called Women’s Treaty would not affect the rights and liberties of American women at all:

    CEDAW wouldn’t change U.S. law in any way,” said Durbin at the hearing. In a 2002 op-ed, Biden and Boxer reminded readers of the horrors of honor killings in Pakistan, bride burnings in India, and female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa. By signing the treaty, they said, the United States would demonstrate its commitment to helping women secure basic rights and increase its leverage with oppressive nations. And, contrary to critics’ fears, “ratification . . . would not impose a single new requirement in our laws—because our Constitution and gender discrimination laws already comply with the treaty requirements.”

    This assertion is misleading at best. As CEDAW opponents persuasively argue, American ratification would have little or no impact on the lives of women in truly oppressive societies—such as signatories North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen—that routinely ignore the admonishments of the CEDAW Committee. The United States, on the other hand, is serious when it commits itself to treaty obligations; ratifying CEDAW would necessitate incorporating its tenets into American laws and policies. Hardly an innocuous document, CEDAW’s prescriptions are antithetical to American values, and radical feminists know it. As Sommers writes:

    … the treaty’s most engaged and knowledgeable proponents—activist women’s groups—disagree with the for-export-only argument emphasized by public officials…. NOW, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and their sister organizations actually agree with conservative critics that CEDAW would have a dramatic impact on American laws and practices.

    Sommers examines the feminist literature and material in support of CEDAW and concludes that “treaty ratification will mean that women’s groups can litigate all areas of American life that fail to evince statistical parity between the sexes.” As she points out, “any country, no matter how free and democratic, is out of compliance with the treaty as long as significant gender roles are still discernible in its customs or institutions—both public and private.”

    Sommers concludes with this ominous prediction that ought to make U.S. Senators pause in their endeavor to ratify the treaty:

    If the United States ratifies CEDAW there will be a three-ring circus each time we come up for review. American laws, customs, and private behavior will be evaluated by 23 UN gender ministers to see whether they comply with a feminist ideal that is 30 years out of date. The Committee will pounce on all facets of American life that fail to achieve full gender integration. That many American mothers stay home with children or work part-time will be at the top of their list of “discriminatory practices.” Committee members… will want to know what our government has done to change our patterns of behavior. The American delegation will then enter a “consultative dialogue” with the Committee to develop appropriate remedies. … Gender quotas, comparable-worth pay policies, state-subsidized daycare, and other initiatives that have failed again and again to win democratic support would instantly be transformed into universal human rights.

    When the CEDAW Committee reconvenes this month, its members will surely issue a number of recommendations to the countries under review that the United States would not welcome receiving itself. Perhaps some of them will dissuade those who continue to seek U.S. ratification of this menacing treaty.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Women's Treaty Still Threatens American Rights and Values

    1. Bobbie says:

      Who founded the CEDAW? third world male gender leadership? I trust the findings 100% over any democrat telling us there is no threat! Democrats take the "word" without considering whose talking and no consideration to what's being said.

      Lets go back to caveman days so we can avoid the talk and use grunts.

    2. Sean Hanley says:

      It is quite clear that this is simply the left wingers reaching darther than they can. I also point out that this is yet another situation where we may be seen as arrogant. These countries are going to ignore the treaty anyway. Not to mention the fact of cost. There is always a cost.

      Our free ladies in America have the freedom and rights they do because they fought for them, No one came over here and bought their freedom or rights. Noone was so intrusive to believe that their ways were so superior and should be obeyed. We have no right to intrude regardless. The truth is if the women want freedom and equality they need to find it within themselves to fight for it, Don't get me wrong im all for equality but not about imposition or intrusion, Our country is still a baby by many standards. We may not agree with the cultures of some other societies; however i feel we do not have any rights imposing a strongarm where it has no place. This will do no more than start more conflicts we cant afford.

    3. J.M. Staral says:

      Have any of you actually read CEDAW? It is available in English and is not a very challenging read. Instead of listening to partisan rhetoric why don't you read it yourself and come to your own conclusions about its efficacy? It's obvious by the lack of direct examples from the treaty's text in the artificial above that you people have no idea what CEDAW really says.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.