By: Kristen Kimmel
This month, Alice Kitchen, a representative from Loretto in Missouri, spent the week in New York. She did a presentation about her work with CEDAW and how the United States as well as other countries are involved. CEDAW works to end discrimination against women, and went into effect as international law in 1981. She shared with us some facts and statistics that are very important to be aware of. Sexual assault in college is very common, and more than 20% of women students will experience a completed or attempted rape during college. The maternal death rate in the US is rising, and one in five women are without health insurance. By adopting CEDAW, countries commit to undertake measures to end discrimination against women in all forms. Some examples of improvements that countries have made are Egypt, which has made a law that makes marriage below the age of 18 illegal. In Rwanda and Argentina, 30% of government positions must be given to women. There are several reasons why we need CEDAW. The United States constitution does not grant equal rights to women and US law does not adequately define discrimination. CEDAW provides a clear and internationally recognized definition of discrimination. As many know there is a gap in pay between men and women. If we do nothing, it will take 43 years to get equal pay, which would be the year 2059. The main goals of CEDAW are economic development and business opportunity, including pay and educational equity and opportunity, elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, and improved health and safety. 189 of the 194 UN member countries have ratified CEDAW, but the US is the only industrialized country that has not. Even though the US has not ratified CEDAW, over 40 cities and towns have passed resolutions endorsing CEDAW. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Pittsburgh, and Berkeley have adopted CEDAW as municipal law. Some ways to help out with this issue is to volunteer to help organize or give a presentation about Cities for CEDAW, volunteer to lead or participate in the effort in your area, and encourage others to voice and show support for CEDAW.
Alice Kitchen surrounded by Loretto volunteers