This November, for the first time, the United States will be subject to a review of our human rights record by the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council. Undoubtedly, the United States will be chastised for not ratifying a U.N. treaty on “women’s rights.” Because President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton support the treaty, this may be another stop on their “apologize for America” tour.
But the State Department has every reason to defend our position confidently.
We’ll be scolded that most countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). “Yes,” the United States can respond, “and that includes nations with the worst records of abuse, yet it has not improved women’s standing or conditions in those countries. But if adopted, it would deny women basic freedoms and rights in America.”
CEDAW is contrary to America’s constitutional system: CEDAW’s sweeping language to abolish “any distinction … made on the basis of sex” covers laws, culture, political systems, schooling, family life, personal relationships and professional choices. Its all-encompassing scope contradicts the U.S. Constitution’s limits on government and respect for states to handle matters such as family law. Every aspect of our lives would be fodder for review by a U.N. committee of “gender experts.”
The United States provides women legal protection: The Constitution already covers women. The ruling in Buckley v. Valeo states, “The term ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment has never been limited to men, and fully protects women against denials of ‘equal protection.’ “
If discrimination occurs, women have recourse to state and federal courts, commissions and a culture of shame. Even the president of the United States is accountable and can be sued for sexually harassing women. Women flee to the U.S. when they face horrific discrimination. Recently, the United States extended asylum to a woman who fled her husband’s brutal abuse in Guatemala.
CEDAW would deny American women’s freedom and views: Women in the United States are free to decide their profession, education and political representation or to run for office. Women are free to negotiate their roles as wives, mothers and caregivers. Yet CEDAW would infringe on these freedoms if the United States were subject to the irrational views of the “gender experts” on the CEDAW Committee, which has oversight of countries that adopt the treaty.
CEDAW was crafted during the turbulent 1970s and reflects the view of gender feminists that has been rejected by most American women and many women around the world. It is a relic of a battle won by Western “gender feminists” against feminists from the developing world. “Social feminists” who faced violence, enslavement and less-than-human status wanted equal rights and women’s unique traits to be valued. They accused the gender feminists of “denigrating woman’s maternal role” and weakening marriage.
The CEDAW Committee provides the best reasons why the U.S. has not subjected Americans to this treaty.
It told China to decriminalize prostitution, which degrades women as objects to be bought and sold and destroys the marriages of women whose husbands buy prostitutes.
It criticized Ireland for the Catholic Church’s influence on attitudes and state policy.
It told Singapore, which reported that its system is based on merit, to impose “minimum quotas for women political candidates.” It told Austria to increase women’s appointments to academic posts. And when Slovenia reported that “there were clear differences in what women and men preferred to study,” the committee told the country to institute quotas to limit women’s choices of what fields they may study.
If political, educational or professional slots are filled based on sex, it reduces respect for women who qualify based on merit. It restricts women’s ability to vote for or hire the candidates of their choice and harms the wives of men who lose positions to women who are not as qualified.
Famously, the committee criticized Belarus for celebrating Mother’s Day. It told Armenia to “combat the traditional stereotype of women in the noble role of mother.” It pressures countries to provide abortions, which, more than half the time, kill unborn girls and can cause serious and sometimes fatal damage to women. It criticized Slovenia because an insufficient number of toddlers were in government day care, revealing its prejudice against women who choose to stay at home with their children. It prefers that mothers work in day care institutions raising otherwomen’s children, not their own.
These are issues that Americans - and not a U.N. committee - should decide for themselves.