Thirty years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Obama Administration strongly supports this landmark treaty, and is committed to United States ratification.
In the three decades since CEDAW was adopted, women and girls around the world have made notable progress. More girls are enrolling in school, and women are participating in government and industry in higher numbers and at higher levels than ever before. CEDAW has been an instrumental tool in the ongoing struggle for women’s rights, offering an important blueprint for action to assure basic human rights and equality for half of the world’s population. CEDAW has assisted in boosting women’s access to land ownership, strengthened their inheritance rights, and increased access to justice within court systems.
Despite clear progress, there are still great inequalities and discrimination against women persists. We must close remaining gender gaps, both at home and abroad. The Obama Administration fully embraces this work. This spring the President created a White House Council on Women and Girls, on which I serve. Our mission is to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all U.S. agencies work for the betterment of women and families in their policies and programs. The Council focuses on, among other issues: improving economic security; ending violence against women and girls; developing smarter work-life policies; and increasing the number of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, math, and other underrepresented fields.
At the United Nations, the U.S has championed efforts in the General Assembly to create a new UN agency dedicated solely to women and gender issues. In September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided over the Security Council adoption of U.S. sponsored Resolution 1888, which calls upon the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative to lead, coordinate and advocate for efforts to prevent sexual violence and to end impunity for perpetrators.
The battle to eliminate discrimination and enshrine women’s equal rights is not yet won. The U.S. will not rest until, with others, we make this shared goal a reality.