By Antonia Feitz
CEDAW. The word looks, or rather sounds like the name of a joinery business, or perhaps a furniture shop. But it stands for nothing so productive. It's the acronym for the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW was adopted by the UN on 18th December 1979, and became an international treaty on 3rd September 1989, after the twentieth country ratified it. It is arguably one of the most pernicious of all the UN treaties.
Why is CEDAW pernicious? Surely eliminating discrimination against women is a good thing?
Indeed it is. Who could object to article 3 of CEDAW which says, "States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men." ('States Parties' is UN-speak for 'nations').
But CEDAW isn't really about guaranteeing equal rights; it's about transforming society according to a radical feminist agenda. Feminist ideologues have high-jacked a most worthy ideal to achieve their own internationalist-socialist ends.
Proof? Well CEDAW actually spells out what equality means, and true to feminist form, it doesn't mean equality of opportunity. It means equality of outcomes. Despite an embarrassment of research into sex differences, which seems to account for the differing interests of the sexes, and for the way their brains process information, the discredited feminist fifty-percenters are still running the UN show.
Of course women should be able to stand for parliament, become judges, engineers or the proverbial rocket scientists. But they shouldn't be forced to do so in equal numbers to men. Social engineering via affirmative action to achieve a numerical equality across all occupations is not really the business of government. If women more often than not eschew becoming parliamentarians because of their commitment to their families, that's their choice. If they more often than not elect to become social workers than rocket scientists, that again is their choice. It's patronizing in the extreme for feminist zealots to presume otherwise.
Let's face it, there has already been a massive social experiment in feminist social engineering: the kibbutzim. Despite being indoctrinated from birth into socialist and feminist ideologies, and having the most heartfelt commitment to them, the kibbutzniks failed to achieve the feminist goal of equality - as measured by a 50-50 representation in all occupations.
So, was it a failure? No. It was a victory for common sense. After three generations, the kibbutzniks discovered that sexual equality didn't mean that men and women had to be identical. They finally came to an 'equivalence' view of equality, where as long as men and women contributed equally - in whatever field - they were equal. In short, they re-invented the wheel, as humans invariably have to do when they get off-track.
But according to the harpies who constitute the CEDAW Committee, until nations achieve a 50-50 split in everything - in occupations, in public life, and even in the domestic sphere - they are discriminating against women. Far-fetched? Not at all. Consider article 5 of CEDAW which advocates "a proper understanding of maternity as a social function." Note the intellectual bullying in the word, "proper."
Most mothers and fathers would see maternity and parenthood as primarily a private affair. Nevertheless, CEDAW demands that child-rearing universally should be "a fully shared responsibilty ... by both sexes." It also insists that society has an obligation to extend child care services to "allow individuals to combine family responsibilities with work and participation in public life."
The message to women is: you will participate in work and public life whether you want to or not. Shades of Simone de Beauvoir! Remember? In a now notorious interview with Betty Friedan she said: "No woman should be authorised to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one." 1
So much for feminists' freedom of choice.
From the emphasis on state-provided child care, it's clear that radical feminism is socialism by the back door. The deceitful use of the word 'allow' is another dead giveaway. These bully-girls mean business, and they don't believe in choice, except for when it means abortion. They demand "a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family ... to achieve full equality of men and women". Their version of equality is complete identity. It chillingly brings to mind the drabness of communist China in Mao's time. Yes, the communists were feminists too, as I recall.
To achieve the goal of sexual identity, article 10c mandates the revision of textbooks, school programmes and teaching methods with a view to eliminating allegedly stereotyped concepts. Such a plan is worthy of the worst communist tyrants. This must be why my children's French textbooks showed Dad in an apron washing the dishes while Mum, dressed in a chic suit and carrying a briefcase, waved bye-bye to the baby in the high-chair. It's disgraceful that academic subjects are being used to brainwash children into feminist ideology.
What if individuals prefer the traditional roles when they have young children? - as most people actually do. We're a mammalian species, after all. It makes good sense for mothers to care for their babies. But feminist arrogance knows no limits. According to CEDAW's preamble, nations are "obliged [!] to work towards the modification of social and cultural patterns of individual conduct in order to eliminate prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on ... stereotyped roles for men and women."
Eliminating customary practices in supposedly sovereign nations is neither benign nor respectful. The very same people who so loudly criticize Christians for evangelization are silent on CEDAW's far worse intrusiveness. For example, the CEDAW Committee has instructed Libya to re-interpret its sacred book, the Koran. The Algerian government was castigated for "using religion as an excuse" for failure to comply with CEDAW. The Committee has also instructed China to legalize prostitution, and Kyrgsztan to legalize lesbianism. 2
Whatever happened to national sovereignty? How hypocritical is the UN? On the one hand it supposedly values the diversity of the world's nations and cultures. But on the other hand, with CEDAW, it demands that nations and cultures must conform to the deranged and frequently evil opinions of Western feminists. You won't be surprised to learn that CEDAW has decided that abortion is a universal 'right', and has instructed governments to legalize it. And interestingly, CEDAW is the UN treaty which calls for the "general and complete disarmament" of the world.
If CEDAW is bad news, the Optional Protocol to CEDAW drafted in March 1999 is even worse news. If governments want to maintain any vestige of national sovereignty, they must not sign the protocol, despite the lobbying of feminist pressure groups.
Previously, nations signing or ratifying international treaties could add RUDs - reservations, understandings and declarations. RUDs are statements limiting or modifying the effect of the provisions of a treaty; or of giving notice of matters of policy or principle; or of simply clarifying matters. But true to its tyrannical goal, the Optional Protocol to CEDAW will forbid any RUDs.
Feminists have been frustrated that many countries included RUDs when they signed CEDAW, precisely to protect their cultures, religions and sovereignty. The protocol is clearly a massive assault on national sovereignty. Nations will have no right to object to the destruction of their cultures and religions. If the feminists get away with this unprecedented demand to forbid adding RUDs to the Optional Protocol before signing, it will set a terrible precedent.
The worst thing about CEDAW is the hypocrisy it exhibits. I have no doubt about the good intentions of the intellectual ancestor of CEDAW, the UN Commission on the Status of Women set up in 1946 to advocate equality between the sexes. But those good intentions have been highjacked by CEDAW. Instead of improving the welfare and securing basic rights for women in the poorer nations, CEDAW's main game is transforming society in the West, and furthering world government.
Proof? Firstly, the Optional Protocol will be used by individuals and NGOs in the West to achieve radical social change that national parliaments would never dare to consider, being answerable to the people. It's through UN treaties such as CEDAW that homosexual relationships will achieve the legal status of marriage.
Secondly, what has CEDAW done for women in the Third World? They are given nothing but contraceptives, which many don't want. African health clinics are full of millions of condoms, but there are no aspirin or bandages, let alone antibiotics.
Finally, the most cursory glance over the countries that have signed and ratified CEDAW makes the whole thing a sick joke. The first three are Albania, Algeria and Angola. Wowee. Burkina Faso has signed, as has Burundi - where people regularly hack each other to death with machetes. So has Cambodia, of the killing-fields fame. China has signed too, even though it has a policy of forced third trimester 'abortions' - read 'infanticide'.
I've only randomly sampled up to C in this depressing list of the more than 140 countries that have signed this horrible international instrument. Needless to say, Canada and Australia, both of whose governments are heavily feminist-influenced, have signed. To its eternal credit, the US has not.
1 Quoted in Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah:
Modern Liberalism and American Decline (New York : Regan Books, 1997),
Antonia Feitz is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right.
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