Fact Sheet and Talking Points: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

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Not only is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) treaty not necessary, its ratification would challenge and undermine the laws and culture of the United States.

Unlike hundreds of other nations that sign and ignore international agreements, the United States takes treaty agreements seriously. According to Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution, treaties-along with the Constitution and United States laws-are “the supreme Law of the Land.” Our founding fathers believed that any ratified treaty should be constitutional.

Further, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women requires countries that ratify CEDAW to report to the committee every four years on how their country is implementing the treaty.

Egregious Provisions of CEDAW:

CEDAW undermines the traditional family structure in the United States and in other nations that respect the family. The preamble states, “A change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men and women.” Article 5a would require the United States government to “take all appropriate action” to: “Modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices based on stereotyped roles for men and women.” The treaty also calls individual American states to give up authority in family law, allowing the federal government to take over family law. CEDAW is a global Equal Rights Amendment, a tool for radical feminists, who work to deny any distinctions between men and women. CEDAW defines discrimination” as “any distinction on the basis of sex,” in “any field.” In other words, no one is allowed to recognize the wonderful differences between men and women. Even in the most personal of relationships – family, marriage and religious. It requires governments to “modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women with a view to achieving the elimination ofallpractices which are based on stereotyped roles for men and women.” According to this document, any “distinction, exclusion or restriction” could be changed if a woman claims that such distinctions “nullify her recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” This language is far too vague and would invite an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits in the United States. CEDAW undercuts the proper role of parents in child rearing. Articles 5 and 16 affirm that in family matters “the interests of the children shall be paramount.” Who decides what is in a child’s “best interest”? What penalty would result from violating the “best interest” of the child? This superficial, feel-good statement subordinates every family member, regardless of the issue or circumstance. CEDAW would guarantee global abortion policy. Articles 12 and 14 section 2b seek “to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning,” rhetoric which means open access to abortion services. CEDAW would captivate our children to the Left’s agenda through a U.N. mandate. Single-sex schools could be discouraged and eliminated because their “perspective” on gender is not acceptable to the international government. Taxpayers could be forced to pay the high cost of “gender neutralizing” all textbooks and school programs. America could become a nation of androgynous children who are not allowed to believe that any gender differences exist beyond the external. For example, the U.N. Committee on CEDAW recommended that the Romanian government “place priority on the review and revision of teaching materials, textbooks and school curricula, especially for primary- and secondary-level education.” It called upon Austria’s government to “integrate gender studies and feminist research in university curricula and research programs.” CEDAW encourages global prostitution to the detriment of needy women. Article 6 states that countries that have ratified CEDAW “shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution in women.” Tragically, the CEDAW Committee has deviated completely from the original intention of the document regarding prostitution. Article 11, section 1(c) of the treaty upholds “the right to free choice of profession and employment.” The Committee has included “voluntary” prostitution in that “free choice”-to the detriment of needy women around the world. Twenty-three international “experts” would govern U.S. women’s rights through the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW Part V (Articles 17-22) outlines the creation of a Committee to oversee the implementation of CEDAW in every signatory nation. This Committee consists of “23 experts of high and moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention” whom representatives of the Convention signatories elect. This, in essence, places the welfare and well being of American women and families at the mercy of 23 individuals, among whom the United States might not even have a voice. This committee currently includes representatives from China (which forcibly aborts women) and Cuba (which murders women who attempt to escape the island). Ironically, eight countries that the State Department recently identified as in Tier 2 Watch for sexual trafficking have representatives sitting on the U.N. CEDAW Committee. Other countries that ratified CEDAW and have been on the committee in the past and could be again are Iraq, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Here are some examples of what the United Nations committee that oversees the implementation of CEDAW has ruled:

February 3, 1999, the CEDAW Committee said that it was “concerned that prostitutionis illegal in China” and it “recommends the decriminalization of prostitution in China.” January 31, 2000, the CEDAW Committee criticized Belarus for “the continuing reintroduction of such symbols as a Mothers’ Day” August 12, 1997, the CEDAW Committee criticized Slovenia because “less than 30 per cent of children under three years of agewere in formal day care.” January 25, 2001, the CEDAW Committee “expressed concern that women’s motherhood role was taking precedence over their professional and individual development” in Uzbekistan. January 21, 2000, complained to Luxembourg about its “stereotypical attitudes that tend to portray men as heads of households and breadwinners, and women primarily as mothers and homemakers.” July 1, 1999 the CEDAW Committee criticized Ireland for its constitution for “promoting a stereotypical view of the role of women in the home and as mothers.” July 1, 1999 the CEDAW Committee criticized Ireland for “the influence of the Church in attitudes and stereotypes but also in official state policy.” April 12, 1994 the CEDAW Committee told Libya “the interpretation of the Koran had to be reviewed in the light of the provisions of the Convention”


No real majority in the Senate is needed to ratify CEDAW. The U.S. Constitution allows the president to enter into treaties with two-thirds Senate approval. It also requires the Senate to have a quorum, a majority (51), present to conduct business. Thus, with 51 senators present, CEDAW would need a minimum of 34 approving senators to ratify it. You can guess who-depending on whether they survive the next election-would attend the vote were CEDAW to come to the Senate floor.

CEDAW legally binds every signatory country to implement its provisions. After signing, each country must submit an initial report with a detailed and comprehensive description of the state of its women, “a benchmark against which subsequent progress can be measured.” This initial report should include legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures the signatory nation has adopted to comply with CEDAW. The country must submit follow-up reports at least every four years.

Radical feminists in Western nations are using poor women’s disadvantages to push an agenda of sexual and reproductive rights for females as young as age 10. Poor women in developing nations are fighting for the basic needs of everyday life-education and literacy, access to health care for basic medical needs, i.e. nutrition, etc. Hiding under the guise of “human rights,” and veiling their intentions with appeals for needy women in developing nations, feminists insist CEDAW is necessary.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is flawed. The U.S. Senate must not ratify it. At its best, CEDAW is unnecessary. At its worst, CEDAW unravels America’s families and forces women to model themselves after global feminists’ ideal image.

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