2 Steps Back and 1 Step Forward

Since last month when I signed Vision 2020's Declaration of Equality (please go and sign it here: http://www.drexel.edu/vision2020/get_involved/declaration/ ) the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act because the entire republican block including Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins voted against it. That's the 2 steps back.

Now, for the 1 step forward - this week as reported in the Iowa Independent,
"U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called for testimony on a more than 30-year-old United Nation’s treaty — one that was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but has never been brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote. The treaty, known as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, has been called an international bill of rights for women and has been ratified by all but seven countries. In addition to the U.S., other hold-out countries include Sudan, Iran, Somalia and three small Pacific Island nations.

“CEDAW is about giving women all over the world the chance to enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that American women have struggled long and hard to achieve,” explained Durbin, who led the CEDAW hearing as part of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law. “These are fundamentally American freedoms — the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and CEDAW is a fundamentally American treaty. Women have been waiting for 30 years. It’s long past time for the U.S. to ratify this treaty and we should do so without further delay.”
Unfortunately, instead of highlighting the very real challenges that are faced daily by women in the U.S., Durbin instead closed his call with this:

“The U.S. does not need to ratify CEDAW to protect the rights of American women and girls,” concluded Durbin. “While more progress is needed, women have fought long and hard for equal rights in the U.S. and have won many victories along the way. … American women have rights and freedoms that far exceed those required under CEDAW — and ratifying the treaty would not change current U.S. law in any way. The United States ought to ratify the treaty to ensure our dedication to the protection of human rights around the world isn’t questioned.”
And, if that's the perspective needed to get the U.S. to ratify thereby separating itself from the Sudan, Iran and Somalia on this issue, so be it, but Michelle Chen aptly points out in a Huff Post editorial that ratification could cause headaches for our legislators on two provisions of Article 11:
"(d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;
(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave"
If you care about legal protection for the gains we've made and further action on the family-friendly policies that study after study says are important for women's continued gains in the workplace, consider a call to your senator on this issue.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.  Follow her on Twitter.

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