The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), often described as an international bill of rights for women, is a United Nations treaty that was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly. Although President Carter signed the treaty on behalf of the United States in 1980, the Senate has never voted to ratify the treaty.
Ninety-five percent of the world’s countries have ratified the Convention, which requires them to submit annual reports on the status of women’s rights for international review. This leaves the United States as one of seven countries -and the only industrialized country- that has not yet ratified the convention.
This afternoon, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on CEDAW for the first time in nearly a decade. “Why do we need it,” asked Senate Subcommittee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Because human rights of women and girls are violated around the world.” The Committee received more than 100 letters from individuals and organizations in support of ratifying CEDAW, a very high level of response for a such a hearing.