Happy International Women's Day! Though several countries consider the day an official holiday, the United States does not. What does this say about the importance of women's rights in the national consciousness?
As forward-thinking as we may believe the U.S. to be regarding women †-- after all, the Seneca Falls Convention was the first women's rights convention on the planet -- we do fall short in several areas.
The most glaring omission is the failure of the United States to ratify a little something called CEDAW - the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Regarded as a sort of international bill of rights for women, CEDAW is a UN treaty that has been signed by nearly all of the nations on the planet...yet the U.S. is one of a handful of holdouts (and the company we keep in that regard isn't very flattering.)
If you do just one "women's issues" related thing on this International Women's Day, it should be to learn as much as you can about CEDAW if it's unfamiliar to you -- and understand why bipartisanship not only impacts healthcare reform and Wall Street bailouts but also the basic recognition of women's rights as human rights.
That's why I'm providing a wealth of links that serve as CEDAW 101 -- everything you need to know to realize what's at stake with this international treaty.
First, the basics:
- What is CEDAW?
- Why Won't the U.S. Ratify CEDAW?
- What is a 'Clean' CEDAW? How Would Restrictions Limit Women's Rights?
And then additional info from Kavita N. Ramdas, President of the Global Fund for Women, an international women's rights expert whose global perspective informs the issues:
- Why CEDAW and Women's Rights is a Human Rights Issue
- What Would Happen if the U.S. Ratified CEDAW?
- Where Does the U.S. Rank in the Global Gender Gap? Not Very High
- What is Obama's Position on CEDAW?
- Want the U.S. to Ratify CEDAW? What You Can Do
And finally, a more granular perspective: reflections on International Women's Day from Eugene Yakub, a commentator whose heartfelt joy in celebrating women past, present, and future is tempered by first-hand knowledge that "women are still far too often living with little or no choice regarding their womanhood."
Choice, after all, is what women's rights are all about. Having the ability to choose politically (by exercising the right to vote ), choose financially (by earning a living wage), choose socially (by selecting a life partner and not having one forced upon you), and choose emotionally (by becoming pregnant with intentionality, and not under duress or pressure) -- those are the hallmarks of freedom. †If you enjoy these freedoms, don't ever take them lightly; generations of women fought for you to be able to not think twice about them. And if you're lacking in one or more areas, keep pushing for change and remember that there are women around the globe working on your behalf.
On International Women's Day, we are all one large family of sisters. Even I, an only child, can feel the love today.