President Zack Statement Re: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
On this United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — which coincides this year with America’s Thanksgiving Day — we should be thankful for the advances that the United States and the world have made in recognizing that there is no place for violence of any type against women. But our work is far from complete.
The American Bar Association has a long history of working to support women’s rights and to combat gender-based discrimination and violence, both domestically through groups such as the Commission on Women in the Profession and Commission on Domestic Violence, and globally through the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI). In addition, the ABA is promoting an initiative to develop a multilateral mechanism to impose civil responsibility on any state that uses sexual violence as a weapon of war and to create a system for reparations to victims from the offending states.
The United States now has several opportunities to reaffirm its leadership in this area. First, Congress should pass the International Violence Against Women Act, bipartisan legislation that would incorporate efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls around the world into U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance programs. Second, the U.S. should join the 186 nations that have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Only six other nations have not accepted the treaty. By ratifying CEDAW, the U.S. Senate can signal that this country is firmly committed to human rights for all of the world’s population.