The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): Congressional Issues
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 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, among other things. As of August 11, 2006, the Convention had 98 signatures and was ratified or acceded to by 184 countries. President 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 has never been considered for ratification by the full Senate. In 2002, the Bush Administration began conducting a full legal and policy review of the Convention. According to the Administration, as of March 14, 2006, the review was ongoing. A more recent update on the status could not be readily confirmed. Some supporters of U.S. ratification contend that the Convention is a valuable mechanism for fighting womens 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 are fighting discrimination in other countries. Some 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, among other things. This report provides background on Convention developments, including U.S. policy and Congressional actions, and considers arguments for and against ratification. It will be updated as events occur.
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