The CEDAW Threat

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“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:33)”

The acronym CEDAW might not be familiar to some of you because media has largely ignored it. However, if CEDAW, a comprehensive United Nations program, is ratified by Congress, it will essentially restructure our way of life. Consequently the media’s lack of reports about it is a little strange. On the other hand, as most of those working in the media admit to holding views “to the left of center,” they might like to see CEDAW implemented. So maybe they don’t want us to know much about it until it’s too late to prevent its ratification. After all, media has a history of applying selective and biased reporting in order to frame issues and set the agenda for society.

CEDAW stands for the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1979 in response to pressure from the National Organization of Women (NOW) and other radical feminists around the globe. Since its inception in 1946, the UN has had a Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), chiefly concerned with improving the status of women; promoting equality with men and ending violence toward women, primarily in developing nations. But CEDAW’s all-encompassing dictates is pushing the UN, and the countries who sign on, far beyond concerns about domestic violence and equality. In essence, CEDAW’s goal is to create a “genderless” society.

Groups supporting CEDAW want us to think that the treaty would not require any significant changes in our society. They claim that it is simply a reasonable and fair-minded approach for defending women’s rights. They try to justify CEDAW by emphasizing the violence to women in developing countries. The impression given is that the sweeping dictates of CEDAW are needed to prevent such violence. That is disingenuous. And, in fact, in some countries that have ratified CEDAW — Iraq being a perfect example, extreme violence against women continues unabated.

Since its first draft, CEDAW has been continually expanded and fine-tuned by aggressive feminists. It is now an enormous document that attempts to address every gender issue imaginable, and leaves no stone unturned. The provisions cannot be adequately covered in an Internet article but you can grasp its main thrust by viewing NOW’s website.

NOW’s mission statement contains this declaration: “NOW stands against all oppression, recognizing that racism, sexism and homophobia are interrelated, that other forms of oppression such as classism and ableism work together with these three to keep power and privilege concentrated in the hands of a few.” To combat what it perceives as our country’s pervasive oppression of women, NOW proposes replacing many of our traditions with government-imposed regulations that empower women.

NOW’s priorities are: Advancing Reproductive Freedom (abortion on demand; the decision resting solely with the woman); Promoting Diversity & Ending Racism (feminists will decide what constitutes Diversity & Racism), Stopping Violence Against Women (feminists will define what constitutes an act of violence), Ensuring Economic Justice (the State will intrude even further into decisions by private companies), Winning Lesbian Rights (state-enacted rights for Lesbians, monitored and enforced by the state. NOW has also endorsed same-sex marriage), and Achieving Constitutional Equality (amending the Constitution to sanction NOW’s priorities).

NOW’s priorities have been codified and expanded into the massive list of edicts contained in CEDAW. Incredibly, almost 200 countries have agreed to this society-altering document. Member countries are subject to the authority of the CEDAW Committee which consists of twenty-three experts on women’s rights. (emphasis added) Women residents of member countries, who feel their rights have been violated, may file a complaint with the CEDAW Committee. Grievances will be investigated and adjudicated. The Committee can also conduct inquiries into what it considers serious abuses of women’s rights by member countries. I am, to put it mildly, a little apprehensive about these CEDAW “experts” and the following actions would seem to justify my apprehension.

Regarding domestic violence against women, CEDAW associates use terms such as “financial violence” and “glaring looks” and we wonder how the Committee will interpret these terms. One bizarre action by CEDAW required Belarus to eliminate Mother’s Day. Apparently women have more important roles than being mothers and having a special day for mothers encourages an old-fashioned stereotype. The German military was forced to put women in combat positions. CEDAW criticized Slovakia because the majority of its children were cared for by family members rather than enrolled in government day care centers. Great Britain’s navy was forced to accept the partner of a homosexual officer as the legal equivalent of a naval wife. CEDAW took Ireland to task for allowing the Catholic Church to have too much influence on its people. China was advised to legalize prostitution to promote equal rights for sex workers.

If Congress ratifies CEDAW, we would not only be subjected to a radical alteration of our way of life but our progress in implementing CEDAW’s dictates would be monitored by the UN. Periodic status reports would have to be made to the UN so it could assess our “compliance.” Now you might think that Congress would never surrender our nation’s sovereignty to the UN, especially if it meant the loss of important traditions. But Congress has been under extreme pressure from activist groups to ratify CEDAW and it took a tactical maneuver in the Senate to prevent its passage just a few years ago.

Since that time, CEDAW advocates have stepped up their lobbying of Congress and in July of this year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the treaty out of committee by a vote of 12 to 7. And in order to curry favor with feminists and similar liberal groups, other Senators are joining long-time CEDAW supporters in the Senate. (I don’t have to name these supporters, you can guess who they are. The same cast of characters who continue to increase the state’s control over our lives.) It’s possible that the lack of media coverage of CEDAW makes Senators think they can now sneak this one past the folks back home. Alarmingly, it’s possible that they might be right.

Congress and media seem to have an ear only for the National Organization of Women, the treaty’s strongest supporter, while ignoring arguments against CEDAW from our other major women’s organization, Concerned Women for America (CWA). It’s not surprising that the media would ignore CWA because its views, influenced by Christian and American traditions, do not pass media’s litmus test for what is best for our country. But members of Congress would do well to consider CWA’s significant membership growth in the past few years.

Formed in 1979 as a reaction to NOW’s radical agenda, CWA boasts 560,000 members and it continues to grow. On the other hand, NOW’s membership peaked in the 1990s and is declining — NOW experienced a membership decrease of 30,000 in the last decade. Its current membership is listed as 250,000, less than half of CWA’s membership.

Some of the Concerned Women for America’s core beliefs are that marriage consists of one man and one woman; human life should be protected from conception until natural death, parents should have the authority to determine public education issues, the entertainment industry should curtail pornography and obscenity, individuals should not have the expression of their religious beliefs interfered with and neither the United Nations nor any other international organization should have authority over the United States. Obviously, the dictates of CEDAW are diametrically opposed to such a set of beliefs.

Most Americans, women as well as men, do not accept the claim by CEDAW supporters that American women are second-class citizens and that our country is excessively oppressive to women. Most Americans would also oppose allowing the United Nations to be the arbiter of our nation’s values. And for too long we have catered to groups like NOW, who claim to be victims simply because they are discontented.

In the biblical parable cited, the equable, contented sheep are placed on the right side, the favored side, whereas goats, whose behavior is often wayward, are relegated to the left side. Sheep remain with the herd and graze peacefully in the fields where they find themselves. Goats stray from the herd and try to push their heads through fences to eat what is on the other side or stand on their hind legs trying to eat leaves that are out of reach. Goats are restless and discontented. But, unlike feminists, they cannot demand that external conditions be changed to relieve their discontent.

CEDAW represents the latest attempt to alter traditions in order to placate a disgruntled group. In this case the primary traditions affected would be those surrounding marriage and family — our most sacrosanct and esteemed traditions. The social cost we would have to pay to placate radical feminists would be entirely too great. Surely Congress cannot be browbeaten into ratifying this flawed and dangerous treaty.

Gail Jarvis [send him mail] is a free-lance writer.

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