08 March 2009

let's sign it and get going

As I did last year, I’m noting that today is International Women’s Day. It’s also being noted that the United States is one of the tiny handful of nations that has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Besides the US, the only UN members that have not ratified CEDAW are Sudan, Somalia, Qatar, Iran, Nauru, Palau, and Tonga. America is the lone democracy to not sign on to this treaty protecting women’s rights.

“The treaty is worse than useless,” said Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America. “It gives legitimacy to regimes that are committing some of the worst abuses against women.” There’s a serious flaw in this logic. Without question, merely signing a document doesn’t guarantee that the words written on it will be carried out. Saudi Arabia is a signatory to CEDAW, and it’s hard to find a country in which women are treated in a more dismal fashion.

But does that mean we shouldn’t sign treaties because other signatories might choose to disregard part, or all, of it? We ourselves have insisted on qualifications that gut much of the effectiveness of this and other treaties. Can’t we just take the high road and set an example for others?

In a world where women and girls are raped as an instrument of war—and acid gets thrown in their faces—maybe this treaty does set a high bar. But as a Christian, I say the law of love is the way to go!

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