Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): Congressional Issues [Updated October 28, 2008]   [open pdf - 112KB]

"The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW] calls for Parties to eliminate discrimination against women in all areas of life, including healthcare, education, employment, domestic relations, law, commercial transactions, and political participation. As of February 15, 2008, the Convention was ratified or acceded to by 185 countries. President Jimmy Carter submitted the Convention to the Senate in 1980. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on the Convention in 1988, 1990, 1994, and 2002, but the treaty was never considered for ratification by the full Senate. The George W. Bush Administration began conducting a full legal and policy review of the Convention in 2002. On February 7, 2007, the Administration transmitted a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stating that it does not support Senate action on the treaty at this time. U.S. ratification of CEDAW is a contentious policy issue that has generated considerable debate in Congress and among the general public. Supporters of U.S. ratification contend that the Convention is a valuable mechanism for fighting women's discrimination worldwide. They argue that U.S. ratification of the treaty will give the Convention additional legitimacy, and that it will further empower women who fight discrimination in other countries. Opponents of ratification contend that the Convention is not the best or most efficient way to eliminate discrimination against women. They believe ratification will undermine U.S. sovereignty and impact U.S. social policy related to family planning and abortion. This report provides background on CEDAW developments, including U.S. policy and congressional actions, and considers arguments for and against ratification. It will be updated as events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33652
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://fpc.state.gov/
Media Type:
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