At a Human Rights Day White House Ceremony on December 10th, President urged the Senate to end its fifteen year delay in signing the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Treaty has been ratified by over 130 nations and was signed by President Carter in 1980.
Clinton urged for Congressional action at the Ceremony which was attended by Hillary Rodham Clinton and women’s rights advocates from across the world. Several women honorees were in attendance, including Kenyan International Human Rights Lawyer Wanjiru Muigai; founder of a support group for abused Hispanic women Lillian Perdomo; a lawyer whose organization has helped over 72 Thai refugees held against their will in a California sweatshop Julie Su; and a Sudanese physician who founded and is the Presidnet of RAINBO, a US based organization working to eradicate female genital mutilation worldwide, Dr. Nahid Toubia. Christine Onyango of the Feminist Majority Foundation and member of its delegation to the Fourth U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing, was also in attendance.
Clinton also announced his intentions to redirect approximately $4 billion dollars to help human rights efforts. The President will allocate some funds specifically to groups helping Rwandan refugee women and working to end child prostitution and labor in Asia. At the U.N. Women’s Conference, the First Lady criticized customs which violated women’s human rights, including the custom of burning wives to death in India if their dowries are too small; female genital mutilation in some African and Islamic cultures; and the use of rape as a war tactic in Bosnia and Rwanda.