On the occasion of President Obama's second Inauguration, we call on the President, without a moment's further delay, to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The United States is the only democracy in the world that has failed to do so.
CEDAW has been ratified by 186 of the world's 193 countries. In failing to ratify, the United States joins only the company of Sudan, Somalia, Tonga, Palau, Nauru, and Iran.
Of CEDAW, President Obama said, "If it was simply up to me it would already have been ratified. I'm a strong supporter of it. It is currently pending in the Senate. We want the Senate to pass it. The Senate has had a busy agenda, and it moves slowly as it is, but my hope is that we get it done." The President made that statement in November of 2010. More than two years later, the women of the United States are still waiting to join the overwhelming majority of the world in ratifying a convention that guarantees the most basic rights and liberties.
On the occasions when CEDAW has come before the Senate for ratification, anti-choice advocates and right-wing ideologues have been allowed to weaken the language in committee, warping the soul of its meaning and its call for true gender equality. The fear-mongering of the last several years must end. Now is the time to ratify a clean CEDAW and join every other democratic nation in the world in supporting full, fair, and equitable rights for women and girls.
As President Obama is sworn into office, we welcome a new session of Congress, one which comes closer to representing the varied experiences of the United States than ever before. The 113th Congress will include the most women representatives in history, including the first all-female delegation, from the state of New Hampshire. There has never been a more vital moment for the United States to step forward in support of women's human rights.