Seizing the Moment to Engage the Obama Administration in Real Change for Women and Girls

Tomorrow will mark International Women’s Day, providing an opportunity both to celebrate women and the strides we’ve made towards equality, and to recommit ourselves to the ongoing struggles for women’s rights.

On Thursday night, in conjunction with the 53rd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the ACLU and partner organizations hosted a dynamic roundtable discussion with human rights advocates about their visions for engaging with the Obama administration to advance women’s rights.

From left to right: Betsy Hawkings, Amnesty International; Malika Saada Saar, Rebecca Project for Human Rights; Lenora Lapidus, ACLU Women's Rights Project; Andrea Ritchie, Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center; Sarah Paoletti, University of Pennsylvania Law School Transnational Legal Clinic; Ivy Suriyopas, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Cathy Albisa, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative and Louise Melling, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

Speakers (PDF) offered messages of excitement, opportunity, and hope — recognizing the women’s rights victories that have been won in just the last six weeks (Ledbetter, the repeal of the Global Gag Rule) — but also cautioned against the temptation to “sit back on our laurels,” and stressed the importance of pushing the administration and Congress to make real change for the women and girls at the margins of society.

Professor Yakin Ertürk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, started the evening off by sharing her thoughts about the global significance of Obama’s election and her support of domestic human rights advocates’ work to combat violence against women in the U.S.

Malika Saada Saar of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights talked about the “cradle-to-prison-pipeline” that funnels children of color into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and called for recognition of the “sexual abuse to prison pipeline,” which incarcerates children who have suffered abuse — disproportionately girls — rather than treating them. Cathy Albisa of the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative highlighted the need, not only for policies that directly address women’s rights, but also for a discussion of how women are impacted in the crafting of all government policies.  She pointed out the glaring absence of a gender perspective in the national conversation about economic recovery and health care reform, and urged the critical importance of arming American women with the tools necessary to empower their families and communities, a strategy that advocates use with great success in other countries.

Several of the advocates identified the need to not only reach for the low-hanging fruit but also to think strategically about what our larger goals for the next four to eight years will be.  They called for human rights activists to unite and fight side by side for their causes, to recognize that workers’ rights are women’s rights are immigrants’ rights are LGBT rights are human rights.

One of the solutions proposed was international human rights treaty ratification as the basis for continuing the struggle for women’s rights and reigniting a critical conversation about the “forgotten and/or disparaged rights that are so central to women’s lives." In fact, it is critical to note that all of the major human rights treaties that have not been ratified by the U.S. are of  particular importance to women and girls: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

In the last six weeks, we’ve already seen an administration that is more receptive to hearing our visions for a better future for women, affirming that this is the right moment to recommit as a nation to advancing women’s human rights.

Stay tuned for more follow-up on Thursday night’s event and visit the ACLU’s website to learn more about the work of the Women’s Rights Project and the Human Rights Program.

— Selene Kaye & Nahal Zamani

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Equality dictates that all persons (not just women) make a fair income commiserate with their education, level of experience, etc. To achieve this in the United States we must first address CEO pay. Their pay is ridiculously high, but they are few in number, so once their pay is redistributed it will only add a few dollars each year to the rest of our incomes. Next we must address the income of federal and state employees. Those of us in the private sector receive Medicare at age 65 and full social security retirement at age 67. The typical government employee receives both their retirement medical benefit and pension at age 52 (15 years earlier than the rest of us). If we increase all government employee retirement dates to age 63 then we could use the savings to reduce the full retirement age of the private sector to age 63. A early and more equal retirement date for all would make for a fairer society.


Our "Foremothers" Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton would be HORRIFIED and embarrassed at how far women have achieved in 2009.
They pictured a future where their heirs and future women would have and live in EQUALITY. Women Rights is even last on the list of categories that the ACLU cares about.
It took HOW many years for Lily Ledbetter to finally get passed? Give me a break, the "progress" that was made from our right to vote to just being treated as an EQUAL to man is disgusting and we are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!

Women in the USA are still are being discriminated against and the slow pace in which it has been led is now making the next generation of SUFFRAGETTES and I am proud to say I am one of them.

We do not trust our government as they are still jailing us for protecting our children, they fail to protect us from violent partners among other ancient practices of misogyny and the treatment of women/children as chattel.

We are weary of the lip service and promises and the crumbs that are handed to us mean nothing. We are studying the Women's movement and finding that movement is a joke as it should be re-labeled as a "CRAWL"

The women that are now blogging and putting up websites that I have networked within the last year is staggering. You say you want a revolution? Well America, you got it.

We know how hard it is for some men to imagine that they may get the same pay or less than a more qualified woman. As chauvinism is alive and well we will not let down the women that came before us and show them that not only can woman create life she can re-create society and their perceptions and misconceptions of women.

Terresa Zimmerman

Human rights have been set back, potentially by decades, in the last week. I am sure you are aware of the legal setback Afghan women have faced over the last week and weeks with a law passed stripping them of basic rights over their own bodies and protecting themselves. If that's not bad enough, our own President made a statement supporting it. He will say he spoke out against it, but he followed it with a big "BUT".
- I am against the legalization of women being raped, BUT...
- I am against restricting the education of girls, BUT...
- I am against taking away the basic rights of married women, BUT...

How can he look his wife in the eyes after this "BUT"? How can he hope for the education of his daughters without hypocrisy? How can this NOT be a central issue for all of us? How can this NOT be a core issue in the media right now? How can there NOT be mass outrage?

You can say we have other more pressing issues to deal with right now. I'll say, those are symptomatic of the wrongs we are allowing at our very foundations.

Women are more than half the population. Educate a girl, feed a community. Empower a woman, raise a more productive family. These are facts, thoroughly documented by many sources and without foe.

Where is the outrage! Obama disappointed me this week, not for the first time, but with irrevocable impact. Where are our elected leaders on this issue? I've only received templated responses to my letters. What have you done about it?

Does Obama know what he's just done? We must speak out against his "BUT's".


Please help, my family and I have been tortured as part of an illegal agreement between North Korea & the US. Half of our family is trapped in North Korea and we fear they are being tortured by the Admirals & Generals in the NK Military. Our family is being held responsible for the decisions that led to Korea's occupation and the Korean War. They are part of the Joseon Dynasty. They have no military training and are defenseless. We're enduring assaults, hate crimes, stalking, enslavement and discrimination. Please help.

BBC News - Film on NK Camps, Starvation, Rape Electric Baton, BDSMRopes, clubs, Admirals&Generals torturing defenseless prisoners, 200,000+PRISONERS (Joseon family trapped also trapped in NK, tortured 55 years)

(please view these videos then TRAVEL TO SEOUL & HELP PROTEST!!!!!!)



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