Two of the country’s most powerful women, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeleine K. Albright, urged the Senate on Wednesday to ratify an international treaty banning discrimination against women. They said it is important that the United States take a leadership role in global efforts to end gender bias.
Against the backdrop of International Women’s Day, Clinton and Albright called on the Senate to ratify the treaty by July, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls, N.Y., convention that launched the U.S. women’s suffrage movement.
“The U.S. stands alone among industrialized democracies, along with countries like Sudan, in not ratifying this,” the first lady said. “This is an international problem that needs to be confronted internationally. We are concerned about how the United States looks standing on the wrong side of this issue with some pretty unsavory company.”
Later in the day, Clinton and Albright joined President Clinton in commemorating International Women’s Day.
Although the United States actively participated in drafting the treaty, which the United Nations approved in 1979 and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for in 1994, the Senate has never approved the document.
The treaty would establish an “international bill of rights for women” and includes 30 articles that describe legislative, political, economic and cultural measures to ensure the full advancement and participation of women in their nations.
Approving the treaty would allow the United States to participate on a UN panel that reviews how nations who signed the convention are implementing it.
The president announced initiatives to expand efforts to help women, including $10 million to help other nations combat violence against women and committing forces in other nations to stop the trafficking of women and girls for labor or sexual exploitation.