In Defense of Mother's Day, Senator Blasts 'Anti-Family' Treaty

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) rose in defense of Mother's Day Thursday, introducing a resolution condemning what he called a "radical, anti-family" treaty.

The United Nations treaty, called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) "has issued repeated assaults on motherhood, and has called for the elimination of Mother's Day," Helms said.

In introducing his resolution, Helms noted the "irony that a number of high profile women in the Clinton administration - and in Congress - are so vocally supportive of the treaty...which they call CEDAW - which rhymes with HEE-HAW."

Supporters of the treaty call it a commitment to the human rights of women around the world. The CEDAW Web page decribes it as "a necessary treaty which establishes a definition of discrimination against women, and calls for the economic, political, and social equality of women."

Helms said contrary to the claims of "radical feminist groups," the CEDAW treaty would not protect the rights of women, nor would it offer them increased opportunities, and he offered examples of what he considers the treaty's anti-motherhood agenda.

Helms noted that earlier this year, a CEDAW committee "solemnly warned the nation Belarus that there was great 'concern [over] the continuing prevalence of such [stereotypical] symbols as a Mother's Day.'"

Helms said, "The nation of Armenia was lectured about the need to 'combat the traditional stereotype of women in the noble role of mother.'"

And he said, "Another CEDAW committee warned Slovenia that too many Slovenian mothers...were staying home (in the opinion of the CEDAW ladies) to raise their children. The CEDAW crowd also warned that because only 30 percent of children in Slovenia were in day-care centers, the other 70 percent were in grave danger of missing out 'on educational and social opportunities offered in [the] formal day-care institutions.'"

Helms said for those reasons - and "in spite of CEDAW's noisy advocates" - the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women "has been left at the starting gate." The treaty should not be ratified, he insisted.

According to the CEDAW Web page, treaty supporters, including Amnesty International, plan to "overwhelm the Senate with calls and letters of support for CEDAW from May 10-14" - the 14th being Mother's Day.

History of CEDAW

The Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, became an international treaty in 1981 after it was ratified by twenty countries.

CEDAW supporters describe it as the most "comprehensive" document to emerge from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, a body established in 1946 to monitor the situation of women around the world and to promote women's rights.

According to the treaty's Introduction, "The present document spells out the meaning of equality and how it can be achieved. In so doing, the Convention establishes not only an international bill of rights for women, but also an agenda for action by countries to guarantee the enjoyment of those rights."

The Introduction also notes, in italics, that, "Unlike other human rights treaties, the Convention is also concerned with the dimension of human reproduction..."

The treaty is a long wish-list that includes provisions opposed by some conservatives.

Article 11, Section 2(c) says society's obligation to women includes offering them social services, especially child-care facilities, so women may combine family responsibilities with work and participation in public life. Critics say that's an assault on traditional notions of motherhood.

The Convention's Article 16(e) affirms women's right to reproductive choice, and it guarantees women's rights "to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights." The word "abortion" is not specifically mentioned, but that doesn't preclude it from the agenda.

The group Concerned Women for America, which aims to restore the family to its traditional purpose, says feminists are seeking to foist their agenda on the rest of the world's women.

"UN conferences and documents have been used to browbeat nations with moral objections [to their agenda] into submission," said CWA in a March 6 statement.

CWA accuses the people setting the UN women's agenda of "condescension and blatant cultural insensitivity" - "an elitist attitude and disregard for developing nations."

CWA insists that women in other nations "have a right to make decisions about their own destiny -- even when those decisions and opinions conflict with the radical feminist model."

As of September 1996, 154 countries have ratified the Convention. Those countries include Cuba, Libya, Iraq, and China - but not the United States.