Gender Equality Regaining Momentum

After eight long years of neglect and oversight by the Bush administration, efforts to promote global gender equality are finally regaining momentum, say leaders of the U.S. women’s movement.

The Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues (CWI), an organization created to serve as a channel for disseminating public policy information on women and human rights issues, sponsored a briefing Tuesday, January 26, 2010. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss current UN and U.S. policies on gender equality, as well as each entity’s upcoming plans for addressing issues that still exist around the world and here at home.

Speaker June Zeitlin, of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) Education Project, reports the UN will launch its first women’s department later this year.

“While we’ve made huge gains through the UN system for women’s rights and a lot of very good commitments on paper, translating them into action and bettering the lives of women all around the world has been ad hoc and slow,” said Zeitlin. “This new women’s agency will, for the first time, link the policy rules with the implementation on the ground.”

Zeitlin commended the Obama administration, along with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, for acknowledging women’s rights as one of their top priorities. Karen Richardson, Senior Advisor to the U.S. State Department’s Ambassador for the Global Women’s Issues Bureau, was present to answer any questions and also made a few remarks.

Women advocates are urging U.S. leaders to join other UN countries in ratifying the CEDAW treaty, an international bill of rights for women. Doing so will require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. The House of Representatives has no role in the ratification process.

“Millions of women, whether it’s in the workplace or halfway across the globe, are forced to play by different rules for no other reason than that they are women,” says IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux. “The IAM believes no matter what the venue, women deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity. Our Union remains committed to educating our members and advocating for women’s rights everywhere.”