WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has historically demonstrated its commitment to promote the administration of justice, including the promotion and defense of civil rights, fair treatment and equal opportunity for all individuals and the avoidance of wrongful discrimination and bias;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association promotes and defends civil rights, equal opportunity and the elimination of wrongful discrimination through the monitoring of proposed and enacted legislation;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association established the Women's Rights Committee (the "Committee") to address the legal needs and rights of women on a local, state, federal and international level; to focus on such important issues as reproductive rights, domestic abuse and equality in the justice system; and to monitor legislation and offer educational programs involving women's rights;
WHEREAS, internationally, women and girls are more likely to be illiterate, poor, victims of violence and trafficking, unemployed, underpaid, disenfranchised and subject to legal discrimination;1
WHEREAS, more than 2/3 of the one billion people living on less than $1.00 per day are women and girls;2
WHEREAS, worldwide, approximately 600 million adult women are illiterate - nearly double the number of illiterate adult men;3
WHEREAS, worldwide, on average, only 15% of parliamentary seats are held by women,4 and women and girls continue to face discrimination in many facets of life;
WHEREAS, the United States is a leader in the international community with respect to promoting the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of women and girls, both domestically and internationally;
WHEREAS, the United States has a bipartisan tradition of supporting international human rights standards through treaties;
WHEREAS, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ("CEDAW") is the first comprehensive treaty addressing the rights of women and girls (See CEDAW attached);
WHEREAS, CEDAW seeks to eliminate discrimination against women and to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world by obligating state parties to condemn discrimination in all forms and to ensure a legal framework that provides protection against discrimination and embodies the principle of equality;
WHEREAS, 186 countries have ratified or acceded to CEDAW, and the United States remains the only industrialized democracy of seven countries yet to ratify CEDAW, which list of counties includes the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Sudan and the Somali Republic;
WHEREAS, the continued influence, leadership, and credibility of the United States is threatened by the failure of the U.S. Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification of CEDAW;
WHEREAS, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia and 25 counties and 41 cities including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have endorsed ratification of CEDAW;
WHEREAS, the American Bar Association ("ABA") has recognized the importance of treaty ratification to advancing the rule of law and universal legal standards and structures to deal with human rights issues, and passed a resolution in favor of U.S. Senate ratification of CEDAW in 2002;
WHEREAS, CEDAW has already proven effective in helping achieve greater equality for women in countries that have ratified the treaty and American localities that have adopted the treaty;
WHEREAS, ratification of CEDAW would reaffirm the leadership of the United States in the global struggle for women's right and allow the United State to contribute more effectively by qualifying the United States to nominate a representative to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women that oversees the implementation of CEDAW;
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED THAT the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the U.S. Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, subject to appropriate reservations, understandings, and declarations;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor to publicize, distribute and communicate the content of this resolution to the U.S. Senate, Philadelphia Bar Association members, other bar associations, the general public, the media, and whomsoever the Chancellor deems suitable to receive the information.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: April 26, 2012
1 See generally The Millennium Project, Global Challenges Earing Humanity http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/Global_Challenges/chall-11.html (last visited April 11, 2011).
2 June Zeitlin, Data on the Status of Women Worldwide, http://www.wedo.org/wp-content/uploads/data-on-the-status-of-women-worldwide-_2_.pdf (May 22, 2006).