July 19, 2002

CEDAW Vote Postponed

The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to meet today, July 18, 2002, to consider a vote on the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). We are pleased to report that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee canceled its scheduled vote unexpectedly. We can only surmise that your calls played a part in this decision. Chairman Biden has rescheduled a vote in committee for Thursday, July 25, 2002.

Earlier this week we sought your calls to members of the Foreign Relations Committee urging a "no" vote. The next day, HSLDA delivered packets of material to the Senate. HSLDA staff reported that the Senate offices were receiving numerous calls on the issue. One Senate aid reported that he alone had handled nearly 100 calls, all but 3 of which were opposed to the treaty.

Chairman Biden stated today that he and Senator Boxer are confident that all the Foreign Relations Committee Democrats are supporting CEDAW, along with Republican Senator Chafee and one additional unnamed Republican. Senator Biden stated that he expects the treaty to pass in committee, with certain conditions.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is deeply concerned that the Senate is taking up CEDAW. This treaty wrongly advances the government into the most private of family and education decisions.

Tom Washburne, Director of HSLDA's National Center for Home Education, had the following comment: "Why would we transfer any issue of our domestic policy away from our elected officials and give it to a UN committee of 'experts'? Senators who vote for this treaty are saying that they lack the ability to govern this segment of public policy. The proper remedy is for them to find a new job, not to transfer domestic policy to the UN."

HSLDA takes issue with numerous aspects of this treaty. Our main concerns include:

1. Home and private schools would be required to eliminate UN-perceived stereotyping of women in both textbooks and practices.

Article 5 calls for governments to eliminate all "practices which are based ...on stereotyped roles for men and women." What is a stereotype? Is not normalcy today the stereotype of tomorrow? United States law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Are we now asking for OSHA to dictate how each family washes dishes? Having women at home as unpaid home schooling moms could be considered by them as discriminatory.

Article 10 calls for the elimination of "any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods." The UN would get to define the meaning of stereotype. Moreover, many home schools teach and respect the traditional family.

2. Unelected international bureaucrats, not elected American officials, would decide issues of family policy.

Article 16 provides that governments should ensure women the "same rights [as men] to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights." What does "responsibly" mean? Who decides? What is the right "information"?

There are numerous other implications to CEDAW that should concern many:

  1. Abortion could be protected by treaty.

    If new Supreme Court justices desired to reverse Roe v. Wade, they would be unable to do so. In fact, the "experts" who oversee implementation of the treaty actually were concerned with the nation of Andorra's laws outlawing abortion in light of the health provisions of Article 12.

  2. Women could be required to serve in combat.

    Article 7 requires countries to "ensure women...the right to: (b) perform all public functions at all levels of government."

  3. Churches could be forced to have women pastors and elders.

    Article 2 declares: "State Parties... agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay...take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization, or enterprise." Churches certainly fit this definition and would be subjected to UN-backed harassment and lawsuits.

In sum, anything good in this treaty the Senate is free to enact as legislation already.

For additional information on CEDAW visit: