What's in It for U.S.

The United States and CEDAW

CEDAW strengthens the United States as a global leader in standing up for women and girls, and it affirms that women’s rights are human rights. The Obama administration strongly supports ratification and has included CEDAW as one of the multilateral treaties it has identified as a priority. The U.S. played an important role in drafting CEDAW, which the United Nations adopted in 1979. The Carter administration signed the treaty on July 17, 1980, and transmitted it to the Senate for consideration in November 1980.

The CEDAW treaty has been voted favorably out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee twice with bipartisan support, with certain conditions to ratification known as reservations, understanding and declarations (RUDs), in 1994, with a vote of 13-5; and in 2002, with a vote of 12-7. It has never been brought to the Senate floor for a vote. Ratification of CEDAW has no financial cost.

Ratification of CEDAW requires two-thirds of the Senators present and voting to stand together for women and girls. Ratifying the CEDAW treaty would continue America's proud bipartisan tradition of promoting and protecting human rights, including women's human rights.

The American public strongly support the principles and values of equality, fairness, education and basic human rights. Millions of Americans are represented by the over 150 national, state and local organizations that are united in support of CEDAW. The groups include a broad range of religious, civic, and community organizations, such as the American Bar Association, Amnesty International USA, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, National Council of Churches Women’s Ministries, National Education Association, The United Methodist Church, Sisters of Mercy, and the YWCA.

Support CEDAW for Women and Girls

American women enjoy opportunities and status not available to most of the world's women. But few would dispute that more progress is needed in certain areas, such as ending domestic violence and closing the pay gap.

Ratifying CEDAW would not result in any automatic changes to U.S. law. Instead, CEDAW provides a practical blueprint to achieve progress for women and girls and an opportunity for policymakers and advocates to work together on how best to end discrimination and ensure women’s full equality, for example in areas such as:

  • Domestic violence: the landmark Violence Against Women Act, has done much to prevent domestic violence and meet the needs of victims, yet two million women a year report injuries from current or former partners in the United States.
  • Maternal health: the United States ranks 41st among a ranking of 184 countries on maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, below all other industrialized nations and a number of developing countries.
  • Economic security: U.S. women continue to lag behind men in income, earning on average only 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
  • Human trafficking: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act has played a pivotal role in combating human trafficking. However, estimates suggest that there may be 20,000 women, men and children trafficked into the U.S. each year.

Ratification of CEDAW would provide an effective catalyst for the U.S. to examine areas of persistent discrimination against women and develop strategies for solutions.