Ms.: After four years, the U.N. has created a new office to be called the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which will begin operating officially in January 2011. UN Women consolidates four formerly separate entities within the UN that work for the advancement of women. The new organization will have two charges: the first is to assist intergovernmental bodies in forming policies and global standards and the other is to help Member States uphold the standards set by these bodies, along with providing the support to do so.
"The UN voted unanimously Friday to create a new office on women to be called the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which will begin operating officially in January 2011. UN Women consolidates four formerly separate entities within the UN that work for the advancement of women: the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
Negotiations to form the entity have gone on for four years because of differing opinions between some developed and developing countries, according to the BBC. "
The United States remains one of only seven countries that have not ratified CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). CEDAW is an international agreement on basic human rights for women and the most broadly endorsed human rights treaty within the United Nations, having been ratified by over 90% of UN member states. CEDAW outlines human rights such as the right to live free from violence, the ability to go to school, and access to the political system.
Before CEDAW there was no international legal mechanism in place that called on states to assess gender inequalities in their country. The Convention draws attention to 30 articles that deal with discrimination on the basis of being a woman. The treaty is divided into six parts - all related to ensuring that women are able to enjoy their “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” as stated in the preamble of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].
NCRW asked leading research and policy expert Linda Tarr-Whelan to weigh in on the status of CEDAW. In addition to her responses, below is an excerpt from a previously published commentary from Linda featured on Women’s eNEws and The Huffington Post.
On Dec. 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, making it a watershed day for women around the globe.
In those heady days, I was deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter for women's concerns. We expected speedy action after he sent the treaty to the Senate.
The bumper sticker on my wife’s car reads, “Well-behaved women seldom make history!” I believe proponents of CEDAW, the Women’s Treaty, have been minding their manners a bit too much. CEDAW is the most important international mechanism for women’s equality, and provides a universal standard for women’s human rights. The treaty is a basic framework for ending violence against women, ensuring girls access to education, and promoting economic opportunity and political participation for women.
Originally posted by Rylee Sommers-Flagan June 24, 2010 on EmoryWheel,com (Emory University's student newspaper)
I’ve long been suspicious that editorialists and editorial boards, despite purporting to speak on behalf of their audiences, are not demographically representative of the larger population. These suspicions were confirmed for me last week in a workshop with a group called the OpEd Project.
According to several studies, men dominate something called “thought leadership” in the United States. Specifically, male voices make up about 85 percent of those present in the national editorial conversation. They supply the perspective in opinion media, vastly outnumbering female representation in talk shows, expert interviews, and op-ed pieces across our country.
U.S. Department of State: Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer gives testimony before the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and addresses the challenges and barriers that women around the world face to productive participation in political engagement and government.
"The State Department and USAID are deeply committed to advancing women’s opportunities for meaningful participation in politics and civil society. We embrace the opportunity to continue to promote women’s empowerment and participation at all levels of society. Moving forward, we will build on the strengths of our accomplishments, including those in Afghanistan and Iraq; continue to fund projects to enhance women’s political and democratic participation; leverage public private partnerships to broaden opportunities for women; and increase our work with the international community to ensure that women are included in peace and security negotiations. We will work in partnership with our Embassies overseas to identify and support emerging women leaders and democracy defenders. This task requires collaboration and leadership at all levels of the U.S. government and with the international community. In this way, more women will be able to take part in the democratic process and serve as examples for future generations. With the support of Congress, we look forward to continuing this collective endeavor. "
Earlier this month, the Women's Media Center featured an excellent "exclusive" written by Kenyan feminist and scholar Achola O. Pala. Presenting a perspective too often unheard within women's activist communities, Pala argues that feminists from formerly colonized countries should look to their own cultural heritage for guideposts in creating greater justice in their communities. Here are two gems to whet your appetite: