The Senate Judiciary Committee met Nov. 18 to discuss ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The act was signed by Jimmy Carter in 1979 but not approved by the Senate, although the 186 ratifying countries include all America's major allies. The seven exceptions include Iran, Sudan, Somalia and several small Pacific Island nations. "It is long overdue for the United States to stand with the women of the world in their effort to obtain the basic rights that women in this country enjoy," said Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, in her testimony before the committee.
Sandra Day O'Conner, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, released on Thursday a letter in support of CEDAW, U.N. Dispatch News reported Nov. 18. "Ratification of CEDAW would enhance the authority of the United States to advocate on behalf of women's rights in countries, including both CEDAW parties and non-parties, that do not respect women's rights to the same extent that the United States does," said O'Conner in the letter.
President Obama called himself a "strong supporter" of CEDAW and said that "if it were up to me, it would already have been ratified," reported U.S. Politics Today Nov. 18.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- House Democrats elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi Nov. 17 to lead their party as minority leader next year, reported the Wall Street Journal Nov. 18.
- Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has declared victory in the Alaska Senate race as the first Senator in over 50 years to win in a write-in campaign, reported CBS News Nov. 18.
- The National Collegiate Athletics Association met Nov. 17 to discuss adopting a gender-violence policy to urge institutions to take tougher action – or any action at all – against student-athletes accused of sexual assault, reported the Chicago Tribune Nov. 18.
- California has elected the nation's first openly transgender judge, Victoria Kolakowski, the New York Daily News reported Nov.17.
- The weekend release from house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, pro-democracy leader in Myanmar, spurred statements of qualified commendation from numerous groups Monday. One came from the Women's League of Burma, which said it hoped to also soon hear that her freedom of movement had been restored.
A bill aimed at stamping out wage discrimination was blocked Wednesday as too few senators voted to move forward with the legislation, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 17. The Paycheck Fairness Act was short by two votes.
The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year and would have amended the Equal Pay Act to limit the defense that employers can use to respond to charges of wage discrimination based on sex, among other actions. In a press statement, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said she would continue fighting for the legislation so "women are not treated as second class citizens by employers who refuse to compensate them in a fair and equitable manner."
More News to Jeer This Week:
- After the concession of Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois, women's representation in Congress has decreased for the first time since 1978, reported the Women's Campaign Forum Nov. 17. If both women in contested races win, women will hold 89 out of 535 Congressional seats, or 16.6 percent, down from 16.8 percent.
- A bill aimed at stamping out wage discrimination was blocked Wednesday as too few senators voted to move forward with the legislation, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 17.
- Britain's maternity service is at a breaking point after struggling to cope with a baby boom and a failed promise by Prime Minister David Cameron to increase the number of midwives, the Royal College of Midwives claimed Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported Nov. 17.
- A study by the Southern Poverty Law Center found undocumented immigrant women in America face harassment and other bias – such as unfair pay and a dangerous work environment – daily in the workplace, CNN reported Nov. 16.
- A bill that would require "informed consent" and a 24-hour delay before a woman could get an abortion in Guam moved forward Monday, guampdm.com reported Nov. 16.
- Women who work in high-strain jobs have an 88 percent higher risk of heart attack, stroke and bypass surgery than women whose work environments create less stress, according to a study presented in Chicago at a conference of the American Heart Association, Time reported Nov.15.
- The Senate voted Nov. 19 to approve a bill pairing the extension of a major welfare program and the settlement of longstanding claims that the federal government mismanaged funds owed to American Indians and discriminated against black farmers, reported CQ Today Nov. 19.
- UNICEF released a report urging intervention programs that address the needs and wishes of the community to help the estimated three million girls and women at risk in Africa each year, reported the BBC Nov. 18.
- The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a motion of contempt against the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday for failing to follow a court order regarding access to emergency contraception for women of all ages, according to a Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release Nov. 16.