Huffington Post-- On the eve of high-level meetings for the United Nations’ general assembly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended an event on Monday afternoon designed to highlight the importance of women’s participation in public life.
Together with a selection of major female world leaders, including Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s top diplomat, and Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile and the head of U.N. Women, Clinton put her name to a document calling for developing countries — especially in the changing Middle East — to clear the way for women to hold leadership roles.
The joint statement read:
We call upon all States to ratify and fulfill their obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and to implement fully Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women and Peace and Security and other relevant UN resolutions.
There was only one problem: the United States is the only industrialized nation –and one of only seven in the world – that has not yet signed onto the CEDAW treaty.
Although Clinton did not mention America’s conspicuous absence from the list of full CEDAW adherents, both she and President Obama have repeatedly statedthey would like to see the treaty ratified in the Senate. But while CEDAW has been in the hands of the Senate for more than 30 years — ever since President Jimmy Carter signed it in 1980 — it has never so much as gotten a vote in the full chamber.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Melanne Verveer, the State Department’s ambassador at large for global women’s issues, described CEDAW as just one of many issues affecting women that has Clinton’s personal attention, and said that the administration has “made its position very clear on this.”
“I’ve testified that around the world, the number one question I’m asked is why hasn’t the U.S. ratified CEDAW,” Verveer said. “We would be much stronger if we could be in the right place, but it’s up to the Senate.”
Erin Matson, the action vice president at the National Organization for Women, calls it “an embarrassment that the U.S. has dragged its heels for so long on this issue.”
“We are in horrible company,” she added. “Most of the nations around the world have ratified CEDAW, and to think that it’s gone 30 years since President Carter signed it, and asked for its ratification in the Senate, it’s heartbreaking.”