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The horrifying gang rape and subsequent death of a student in India ignited protests in support of changing laws and cultural views on women. This unspeakable tragedy, coupled with the ongoing atrocities and injustices facing the world's female population, should also remind the United States to finally ratify the United Nations "bill of rights for women."

The U.S. was a primary drafter of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women when President Carter signed it in 1980, but it has inexplicably lingered in the Senate for over 30 years. Only eight countries have failed to ratify the convention, leaving the U.S. in the company of nations that adamantly oppress the rights of women, including Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.

This convention has been an important source of constitutional and cultural changes that support the global advancement of women. The Obama administration must move urgently to ratify this important convention.

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Dear President Obama:

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men by securing women's access to equal opportunities in political and public life, including the right to vote and to stand for election, as well as the right to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.

Nations who ratify the convention agree to take all appropriate measures to ensure that women can enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. They are also required to submit a report every four years to the convention's committee. This is a valuable, ongoing opportunity to identify shortcomings, track progress, and cultivate a dialog about ways to improve.

CEDAW is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and identifies culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It affirms women's rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children. Ratifying nations also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of women.

CEDAW has been an important source of constitutional, legislative, and judicial change for the advancement of women abroad.

  • In Bangladesh, it facilitated the improvement gender parity in primary schools.
  • In Kenya, it helped remove barriers to land and inheritance rights for widows and daughters.
  • Afghanistan used it as a basis for a constitutional provision to guarantee men and women equal rights before the law.

U.S. diplomats and Americans who work in international organizations say that the failure to ratify impedes their efforts to advance the rights of girls and women abroad. Ratification would also benefit America, which still struggles with pay equity for women, paid maternity leave, and violence against women.

As you stated in your second inaugural speech in January of 2013, "Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts." Let ratification of CEDAW be one of your first steps in following through on that historical and heartfelt proclamation.

Petition Signatures


Oct 21, 2014 Richard Bosboom
Oct 21, 2014 Katherine Myskowski
Oct 21, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 21, 2014 ALFRED PAPILLON
Oct 18, 2014 Cathy Peterson
Oct 17, 2014 Edyth Hutton
Oct 16, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 16, 2014 Martha Thomas
Oct 16, 2014 Gina Freitas
Oct 16, 2014 Jobette Elkins
Oct 14, 2014 L X
Oct 13, 2014 Gabriela Baldaia
Oct 11, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 11, 2014 Kimberly McLaughlin
Oct 9, 2014 Carlos Osorio
Oct 9, 2014 Alison Spence
Oct 8, 2014 Macy Sokolowski
Oct 7, 2014 Sandra Davis
Oct 4, 2014 Joey Stevenson
Oct 3, 2014 Pamela Burns We need to show the world that we are NOT a 3rd world country after all.
Oct 3, 2014 LM Thornburg We must all fight to stop violence against women is ALL CULTURES, ALL COUNTRIES, ALL PEOPLES. And without EQUALITY in education, work, pay, health care, etc., we lose essential human rights and freedoms that should be for ALL people. PLEASE do this.
Oct 2, 2014 GIGI LIEBENTHAL
Oct 2, 2014 Alicia Addeo
Oct 2, 2014 Laura Kennell
Oct 2, 2014 Michael Walton
Oct 2, 2014 Carla Winger
Sep 30, 2014 Deborah Laurel
Sep 30, 2014 Liz Power
Sep 30, 2014 K.G. Johnson
Sep 30, 2014 Michelle lamm
Sep 30, 2014 Ann Mondee
Sep 29, 2014 Carolyn Friedman
Sep 29, 2014 Olga Titova
Sep 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 28, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 27, 2014 Dawn Williams
Sep 26, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 26, 2014 Renee Feliz
Sep 25, 2014 Lyla De Vita
Sep 25, 2014 Cheryl Hanks-Hicks
Sep 25, 2014 Tammy Boykin
Sep 25, 2014 Jacob R. Raitt It is absurd and reprehensible that women are still considered second class persons.
Sep 25, 2014 Emma Spurgin Hussey
Sep 25, 2014 Nicole Murray
Sep 24, 2014 tamalee robinson
Sep 24, 2014 Nicole Pans
Sep 23, 2014 Michelle Keenan
Sep 23, 2014 Elissa Mericle-Gray
Sep 23, 2014 Jennifer Shifflett
Sep 23, 2014 Brenda McDowell

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