Women and the Arab Spring: Spotlight on Egypt, Tunisia and Libya

Today, NASW staff will join a number of women’s rights organizations, Senator Boxer (D-CA), Senator Casey (D-PA) and other women’s right’s experts at a hearing on November 2nd at 2:30pm.  The hearing, “Women and the Arab Spring:  Spotlight on Egypt, Tunisia and Libya” will focus on roles that women have taken in the recent social revolutions that have occurred all over the Middle East, focusing specifically on Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.

All over the world, women are taking on more proactive tasks and getting more recognition for the work they do socially and politically.  Two weeks ago, on October 7th, three women were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the work they have done in the Middle East for peace, and women’s rights.  Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen joined the ranks of twelve other women such as Mother Teresa and Jane Addams.   Especially in the Middle East, women are stepping up for democracy and enacting positive changes.  It is time for the United States to recognize these brave women, and give back to them by ratifying the CEDAW treaty.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), commonly known as the Treaty for the Rights of Women, is a landmark treaty that recognizes women and girls as engines of change, and protects their rights. It outlines ways to achieve progress for women and girls by calling on ratifying nations to overcome barriers to discrimination. Hilary Clinton, U. S. Secretary of State and long-time supporter of women’s rights, said “The CEDAW treaty [is] the most authoritative U.N. negotiated treaty to protect women around the world from discrimination.” Check out a factsheet to learn more about it.  And visit NASW’s webpages to read about NASW’s work on international women’s rights.

Last month Nauru, a small Pacific Island, ratified the treaty.  This leaves only six countries in the entire world that have not ratified the treaty -and the U.S. is one of them.  Along with the U.S. only Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and two small Pacific Island nations (Palau and Tonga) are left to ratify the treaty.  The U.S. does not belong on a list with such company, including known human rights violators.  We need to ratify CEDAW now to strengthen the U.S. as a global leader in standing up for women and girls.

This hearing on November 2 (2:30 pm in 419 Dirksen), “Women and the Arab Spring:  Spotlight on Egypt, Tunisia and Libya,” is an important step in bringing women’s rights and the CEDAW treaty back into the political spotlight.  Ratifying CEDAW is important not only for our international standing and to help women, but also for our national security.  Countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women have full and equal rights and opportunity.

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