Half-Full/Half-Empty: What the U.N. Has Done for Women and Girls

Ellen Chesler and Terry McGovern have co-edited a timely and important collection of analytical essays and personal reflections in their new volume, Women and Girls Rising. The volume tries—and largely succeeds—to offer a thoughtful reckoning of the influence of the U.N. Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. It is part of a series […]

C’mon, Congress—Isn’t 34 Years Enough Time to Ratify CEDAW?

Known as the “women’s treaty,” the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women—CEDAW—was signed by the United States 34 years ago today. The United Nations had adopted the treaty, pledging to give women equal rights in all aspects of their lives, on December 18, 1979, and at a special ceremony during […]

Senate Hearing Reignites Hope For CEDAW and I-VAWA

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), surveying the chamber before her, a room packed with senators, diplomats, feminist leaders, scholars and activists, proudly proclaimed, “I’m looking at an iconic picture here.” At last week’s U.S. Senate Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women’s Issues hearing on Combating Violence and Discrimination Against Women: A […]

Nelson Mandela and Women’s Rights

South Africa’s monumental leader in the struggle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela, died today at age 95. Not only did he fight against the oppression of black Africans, but he supported the rights of women. Under his one-term presidency in the 1990s, South Africa signed and ratified the CEDAW treaty—something the U.S. has yet to do. […]

What Does Sex Have to Do with World Peace?

Last year, a quiet but powerful book, Sex and World Peace, was published by an interdisciplinary group of researchers and scholars. The authors, Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli and Chad F. Emmett, set out to demonstrate and document the complex but evident relationship between how girls and women are treated and the security […]

The Women of “Women, War and Peace”

The remarkable five-part PBS series Women, War and Peace concludes on Tuesday, November 8 with War Redefined, the capstone piece that brings together the issues brought up in the previous films about conflicts in Afghanistan, Colombia, Liberia and Bosnia. Narrated by Geena Davis, the film touches on, among other things, how the proliferation of small […]

In a First, UN Holds Brazil Accountable for Maternal Death Under CEDAW

Nine years ago, 28-year-old Alyne da Silva Pimentel died needlessly from a difficult pregnancy after her care was both delayed and botched. A Brazilian of African descent, Pimentel lived in one of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest areas. When she delivered a stillborn pre-term fetus in her district’s local hospital, she languished without proper care until […]

Help Me Call On the Senate to Ratify CEDAW

Today, for the first time in eight years, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the importance of ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I was invited to submit my testimony; below is what I sent. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, in a letter released […]