The. Very. Best. Valentine’s Day. Gift. Ever.Published 10:48am Thursday, February 7, 2013
This year I came up with the best Valentine’s Day gift ever for my wife and daughter. It’s inexpensive and, unlike a bouquet of flowers, should last beyond their lifetimes. They’ll love it! I can’t think of a better way to express how much I love them.
Rather than chocolates or jewelry, I am going to join a One Billion Rising rally to end the violence against women that has shattered lives and torn the fabric of societies around the world.
A billion women — one out of every three on the planet — will be raped or beaten sometime in their lifetime. That’s 1 billion moms, sisters, daughters and friends violated, 1 billion lives shattered, 1 billion hearts broken and 1 billion reasons to rise up and put an end to this violence.
On Feb. 14, rallies around the world are giving a billion women, and those who love them, an opportunity to dance, speak out and say, “Enough!” There are many ways to make a difference, but here in the United States we have a 32-year-old obligation that I’m focused on: Senate passage of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
This landmark international agreement affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world, including the rights not to be raped or beaten. But ours is one of only seven countries — including Iran, Sudan and Somalia — that haven’t ratified this treaty.
This accord offers countries a practical blueprint to achieve progress for women and girls by calling on each ratifying country to overcome barriers of discrimination. Around the world it has been used to reduce sex trafficking and domestic abuse, provide access to education and vocational training, guarantee the right to vote, ensure the ability to work and own a business without discrimination, improve maternal health care, end forced marriage and child marriage, and ensure inheritance rights.
Although the Obama administration strongly supports its ratification and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted in favor of it twice with bipartisan support (in 1994 and 2002), it has never been brought to the Senate floor for a vote. It’s time to change that.
Why? Joining this convention would continue our nation’s proud bipartisan tradition of promoting and protecting human rights. Ratification requires two-thirds of the Senate to stand together. The good news is that in this time of tight budgets, it would cost us absolutely nothing.
Ratifying it would strengthen the United States as a global leader in standing up for women and girls around the world. Unfortunately today, our diplomats who speak out to end violence against women are too often told that since we are not part of the women’s treaty, we should mind our own business. Finally, bringing it to a full Senate vote would open up important conversations.
Don Kraus is the President and CEO of GlobalSolutions.org.