- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Score one for the far left. Its political maneuvering paid off on CEDAW (a treaty known erroneously as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by resurrecting and jumping it ahead of 18 other bills and then passing a treaty that had, wisely, been buried for more than 20 years, handed liberals what they hope will be a winning issue for the fall congressional elections and gained momentum for their radical domestic agenda. The problem is that, in the process, they have betrayed both women and their country.

On the surface, what is not to like about a treaty that would supposedly "end discrimination against women"? Who among us wants discrimination against anyone and especially against women in this era of political correctness? If that were what the CEDAW treaty was about, there would be no dissent; but under the guise of concern for women's needs and increasing women's opportunities, CEDAW actually threatens the well being of needy women around the world and requires the surrender of national sovereignty by all participating nations.

The liberal rhetoric is high sounding and compelling, telling us with eloquence and emotion that the United States ought to get behind policies that would empower women around the world. But, as with most important documents, it is necessary to read the fine print. The new push to get CEDAW ratified in the United States is sheer opportunism by the left. American women do not need the treaty because it would do nothing to enhance the rights and privileges that women in the United States already enjoy. Instead, the treaty is a way to advance the radical agenda of abortion, autonomy, sexual promiscuity and redefinition of the family.

CEDAW contains some very troubling provisions; it forbids "any discrimination based on sex." Do we really want radical feminists determining what is "full equality between men and women"? Do we really want children's full autonomy from parental decision-making or mandated sex education in elementary schools? Do we really want sex-based wage-and-salary price fixing under the ruse of "comparable worth"?

These action plans for the treaty comprise the same radical agenda that is being advanced elsewhere. What is different and especially troubling about CEDAW is its enforcement mechanisms. With the power of a U.N. oversight committee 23 women who will conduct annual assessments of national compliance to the treaty CEDAW has been used already to decry "sex-role stereotypes" in some nations and lament the celebration of Mother's Day in others. In addition, the treaty's definition of discrimination has been used to demand that prostitution be decriminalized.

The CEDAW committee has also meddled in household management by complaining to some countries that their men "are not assuming an equal share of family responsibilities."

In a shocking revelation, Charmaine Yoest, Bradley Fellow at the University of Virginia, found and analyzed the details of the CEDAW Assessment Tool for a forthcoming article for the Independent Women's Forum. This 175-page project released by the American Bar Association and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development shows the intent to educate judges and legal professionals about "CEDAW's precedence over national law."

Sadly, the legitimate needs of women around the world are being subverted at the same time that privileged women are shamelessly using third-world women's desperate needs to push a frivolous and morally corrupt agenda an appalling instance of contemporary colonialism and political calculation.

Unbelievably, desperate politicians are using a bogus women's issue to win elections, and in the process they are promoting a United Nations' treaty that will take precedence over national law without a thought for the ramifications, thereby surrendering our national sovereignty.


Janice Shaw Crouse is the author of "Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the 20th Century," and is a senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute.

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