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Marking International Women’s Day, Prof. Rangita de Silva de Alwis makes the case for U.S. ratification of the UN’s global bill of rights for women

March 08, 2021

Adopted in 1979 and instituted by the United Nations in 1981, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is considered an international bill of rights for women, and only six UN member countries have not yet ratified it – among them are Sudan, Iran, and the United States of America.

In an upcoming paper called “‘Time is a-wasting:’ Making the Case for CEDAW Ratification by the United States,” University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership Rangita de Silva de Alwis and co-author Ambassador Melanne Verveer draw on a quotation from then-Senator Joseph Biden to drive their point home that American ratification of the CEDAW is long overdue.

As de Silva de Alwis recently told Penn Today:

I am hopeful that it will be ratified under [Biden’s] tenure, as it’s long past time, Madeleine Albright said and at that time, Senator Biden said ‘time is a-wasting.’ Biden was the architect and the champion for the VAWA, Violence Against Women Act. I see this next because the interlinked nature of the Violence Against Women Act and the CEDAW means they are mutually reinforcing. And as I argue in the paper, at this moment in time they are battling the dual forces of sexism and 400 years of racism in this country, as well as globally, the growing forces of nationalism and populism and the twin forces of economic crisis and the pandemic. This time is so appropriate, so auspicious for us to ratify the CEDAW as a way of addressing these interlinked crises.

Read more of de Silva de Alwis’s insights on the urgency of women’s rights in this moment at Penn Today.