Although Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-DE) has scheduled a vote tomorrow on US ratification of the international women’s treaty, the Republicans may find a way to delay this important vote for the second time. However, in anticipation of this scenario, Biden scheduled three backup dates for the vote – next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. “We are confident that this historic treaty will soon be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Our hope is that the full Senate will then recognize how important it is for the US to promote women’s rights around the world.”
Ratified by 170 countries, the Convention for the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was drafted by the United Nations in 1979 to provide a standard for women’s equality and rights. The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the treaty, which means that our government is aligned with such nations as the Taliban’s Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan. While the Bush administration told the Senate six months ago that CEDAW was “generally desirable and should be approved,” Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote the committee two weeks ago to say that the administration now feels that the treaty should be studied by the Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was an opponent of CEDAW when he was in the Senate.
Led by Biden and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate committee held the first hearing in eight years on CEDAW last month. While a committee vote on the treaty was originally scheduled for last Thursday, an anonymous Republican Senator used a procedural tactic on the Senate floor to have that vote cancelled. Tomorrow’s vote is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. in the Senate Dirksen building.