In commemoration of World AIDS Day and Human Rights Day 2009, I urge you to show public support for the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in the United States.
Protecting human rights promotes women's health -- in the US and across the globe. Women all over the world are facing discrimination, abuse and systematic inequities that make them especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Until we protect women from sexual violence and exploitation, provide health, prenatal care and education, and ensure all women have the socioeconomic power to negotiate safer sex practices, HIV/AIDS will continue to disproportionately affect women in many parts of the world.
Human rights violations against women also fuel conflicts world-wide -- from Darfur to Burma, Congo to Guinea. To protect women and girls from the ravages of war -- including the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons -- the US must ensure human rights for women in conflict zones, for refugees, and for asylum seekers coming to the US to escape gender-based violence and persecution.
CEDAW sets a universal standard as the most comprehensive international treaty addressing women's equal political, civil, economic, cultural and social rights. CEDAW ratification in the United States would strengthen US laws that ensure women's equal rights as well as illustrate the United States' commitment to serve as a global leader of human rights.
Your public support for the treaty is essential for CEDAW to be ratified in 2010. Since the United States signed the treaty in 1980, it has stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate numerous times. Obama gave CEDAW new life by putting it back on the international treaty agenda in Spring 2009. Now you, alongside your fellow Senators, have the opportunity to support CEDAW ratification in the United States and pass this important treaty in 2010. I am calling on you to be a strong voice in making CEDAW ratification happen. Show your public support for the equal rights of your female constituents, fellow Americans, and women and girls around the world.