The Treaty for the Rights of Women provides an international standard for protecting and promoting women’s human rights. Officially known as the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the treaty is the only international agreement that sets standards for the treatment of women around the world. As of March 2005, 179 countries have ratified the treaty. The United States remains among a small minority of countries that have not yet ratified CEDAW, including Iran, Somalia, and Sudan. In 2002, the Bush Administration stated in a letter to the Senate that the treaty “should be approved.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Joseph Biden and Senator Barbara Boxer, held hearings and reported the treaty favorably out of committee in a bipartisan 12-7 vote.
The treaty gives hope to women and girls around the world by providing a tool for justice and change. CEDAW has helped women and girls in the 179 ratifying countries to demand access to education for girls, seek inheritance and property rights for women, overcome obstacles to operate business, and advocate for health care services. CEDAW has helped women and girls in the fight against all forms of domestic and sexual violence, trafficking and slavery, bride burnings and honor killings, rape and other forms of assault. The abuse of women Afghanistan galvanized world attention to the severe violence and discrimination faced by many women around the world. CEDAW is the most relevant international treaty to advocate for women’s human rights in Afghanistan and throughout the world.
Women around the world are using the Treaty for the Rights of Women effectively to bring about change in their conditions. CEDAW has encouraged the development of citizenship rights in Botswana and Japan, inheritance rights in the United Republic of Tanzania, and property rights and political participation in Costa Rica. CEDAW has fostered development of domestic violence laws in Turkey, Nepal, South Africa, and the Republic of Korea and anti-trafficking laws in Ukraine and Moldova. CEDAW has had a positive impact on legal development in countries as diverse as Uganda, Colombia, Brazil, and South Africa.
The United States could ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women without revising US law. Nonetheless, ratification of the treaty would help efforts to continue improving US laws with respect to violence against women, access to legal protections, and other human rights. Lack of US ratification, however, serves governments that are apt to ignore CEDAW’s mandate and their obligations under it. With US ratification, CEDAW becomes a stronger instrument in support of women’s struggles to achieve full protection and realization of their rights.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA RECOMMENDATIONS:
• The U.S. Senate should vote favorably to ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women (CEDAW).
• The Bush Administration should support Senate ratification and use the Treaty to promote women’s human rights worldwide.
Making Men Allies to Stop Violence Against Women
Leading human rights advocates, public health communities, and anti-violence groups have identified violence committed by men against women as a public health concern and a human rights abuse. While the vast majority of men are not perpetrators of violence against women, in most societies men have a critical influence over the culture that allows this violence to thrive and become socially accepted. At the same time while the movement to end violence against women has been gaining increasing participation of men for years, AIUSA hopes to partner with such groups in hopes that we can use our image and experience in pursuing rights for women globally to further empower and facilitate men supporting efforts to end violence against women.
AIUSA has set several goals for the next two years of activism to Stop Violence Against Women:
• Increased awareness of the scope, gravity and need to stop VAW among men in the United States.
• Enhanced participation by men in the United States in efforts to stop VAW both domestically and internationally.
• Develop a core of male activists who are active and engaged in the AIUSA’s SVAW campaign.
We hope to change the environment in which men discuss the value of ending violence against women. While this may not provide for “male only” forums, it will perpetuate the idea that violence against women is not just a women’s issue, but affects men directly.
The intention is to enable AIUSA activists:
• To offer support to the stop violence against women movement.
• To bring on a new constituency to work with our already thriving Stop Violence Against Women Campaign.
• To increase AIUSA’s visibility among men and communities of color.
Timeline and Planned Activities
During the 2005-2006 academic year AIUSA will partner with an organization in the Stop Violence Against Women movement to establish a presence on five university campuses and develop tactics for each campus to engage in stopping violence against women. Suggested activities have included teach-ins, outreach to fraternities, sororities, athletic organizations, ads and editorials in campus papers, and speakers. A project team is being assembled and is headed by Christopher Watson, field organizer for AIUSA’s MidWest region (email@example.com).
There is a growing awareness that men, in partnership with women, can play a significant role in ending violence against women. This has led to an increase in programs and activities that focus on men's roles in violence prevention. Men should take responsibility for preventing violence against women because of the untold harm it causes to women in men's lives and the ways in which it directly hurts men.
Violence against women hurts men when it results in women being afraid of or suspicious of men due to fear of potential victimization and when it perpetuates negative stereotypes of men based on the actions of a few. The behaviors and attitudes that cause violence against women may also be a cause of men being violent towards other men. These same behaviors and attitudes may also keep men from having close and meaningful relationships with each other. Finally, while only a minority of men is violent, all men can have an influence on the culture and environment that allows other men to be perpetrators. For example, men can refuse to be bystanders to other men's violent behavior.
For all of these reasons men have a stake in ending violence against women. Men can prevent violence against women by not personally engaging in violence, by intervening against the violence of other men, and by addressing the root causes of violence. This broad definition provides roles for all men in preventing violence against women. Men's involvement can take the form of primary or universal prevention (directed at all men, including those who do not appear to be at risk of committing violence and those who may be at risk for continuing a pattern of violence), through secondary or selective prevention (directed at men who are at-risk for
committing violence), and/or through more intensive tertiary or indicated prevention (with men who have already been violent).
Background Information from “Working with Men to Prevent Violence Against Women: An Overview” (Part One) by Alan Berkowitz (October 2004) This document discusses men's role in prevention, what is effective in men's prevention, and cultural issues and considerations in working with men.
VAWnet's series of three resource pages on Men in the Movement to End Violence Against Women:
Organizations & Programs, Campaigns & Campaign Materials, and Training & Education.
Engaging Men: Strategies and Dilemmas in Violence Prevention Education Among Men by Dr. Michael Flood
Young Men as Allies in Preventing Violence and Abuse: Building Effective Partnerships with Schools by Alan Berkowitz, Peter Jaffe, Dean Peacock, Barri Rosenbluth & Carole Sousa
Distribution Rights: These materials may be reprinted or adapted with proper acknowledgment. Please be sure to cite Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV). PCADV/NRCDV and the author(s) as to source and to distribute it in its entirety.