Today begins the 53rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). I’ve spent a lot of the last week at a training that IWHC held for young advocates from Africa, Asia and Latin America (we had a couple from the US this year too, as part of a collaboration with the Girl Scouts), where we took them through some basic UN structures and documents that they’ll need to advocate at the CSW for the next 2 weeks. As an American in that room, I was embarrassed to have to point out that the US has still refused to ratify two of the most basic human rights documents available to us as advocates: the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For CEDAW, 185 of the 192 member states of the United Nations have signed and ratified, leaving us in the cold (along with Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan); and on the CRC the only members of the United Nations NOT to sign and ratify are the US and Somalia. This is an embarrassment to me as an activist, and should be an embarrassment to all of us. Hopefully when the new administration looks at ways to restore our standing in the world, ratifying these two documents will be at the top of their list.
Chelsea Ricker is the Program Assistant for the International Women’s Health Coalition’s Africa program. Read her bio here.