Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Calls for Senate to Ratify Treaty Banning Discrimination Against Women

October 8, 2002

Washington, D.C. -- Members of Congress and prominent human rights activists held a press conference on Capitol Hill today to urge the Senate to ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women, formally known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). On July 30, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve the treaty, which provides women around the world with a legal framework from which they can fight for their rights. The full Senate still needs to vote on the treaty.

The following is a statement by House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

"CEDAW is essential to advancing the status of women around the world. What better place to start than in the United States, the greatest nation in the world today? But since 1979, the United States Senate has refused to ratify this important treaty.

"Since then, nearly 170 nations -- literally from A to Z, from Albania to Zimbabwe -- have committed themselves to basic rights for the women of the world. The United States is the only highly developed nation that has not signed it. And for that, we ought to be ashamed.

"By not ratifying the treaty, the United States joins countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Sudan. U.S. ratification would not only be a strong statement of our values, it would help to further isolate those countries that truly deny women equal rights, and would substantially increase international pressure available to promote constructive change in those countries.

"Under this treaty, every woman in the world has the right to political participation, legal protections, education, health care and employment opportunities. There are thousands of women in this country who do not have access to health care. We know that discrimination in the legal system and in the job market still exists, in this country.

It’s time to stand up for our sisters in spirit. It’s time to ratify this treaty to lift up women around the globe and right here in the United States."