APA Vigorously Supports The Rights Of Women

On November 22, 2010, APA submitted the below statement for the record to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law in support the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). APA’s efforts to establish fully the equality of women are based on the fundamental assumption that inequality between men and women not only disadvantages women, but substantially depletes essential human capacity in all corners of the world; this vigorous support for women’s rights and equality is founded on a strong social science research record. APA’s statement noted that while women in the U.S. enjoy opportunities and status that are not available to many women in other parts of the world, more progress is urgently needed. For example:

  • domestic violence remains a serious problem in the U.S., with an average of four women per day murdered and 5.5 million women per year physically assaulted or raped by intimate partners; and 

  • compared to men, women in the U.S. continue to face inequities in pay , high school drop-out rates, rates of poverty, and education.

CEDAW would provide a stimulus for greater focus on these disparities and increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. APA will continue to advocate for ratification of this important treaty.

Written Statement Of Support For The Record

Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, Executive Director of the Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association

Submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law on the Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

November 18, 2010

Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Coburn, on behalf of the 155,000 members and affiliates of the American Psychological Association (APA), I want to thank you for providing us the opportunity to comment on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also known as the Treaty for the Rights of Women. APA strongly supports the fundamental principles of human rights and equality for women and girls as affirmed in CEDAW. In 2002, when United States (U.S.) ratification of the treaty was previously considered, APA sent letters to the full Senate and to then President George W. Bush urging ratification. Today APA once again urges the Senate to support ratification of CEDAW. 

APA is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U.S. and is the world's largest association of psychologists. Comprised of researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and graduate students, APA works to advance psychology as a science, a profession, and a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.

APA has long served as an advocate for the rights of women, both in this country and abroad. APA’s efforts to promote equality for women reflect the strong commitment of our members and of the organization as a whole. APA’s Women’s Programs Office, Committee on Women in Psychology, and membership division entitled, Society for the Psychology of Women, all work to improve the health, well-being, and status of  women within the field of psychology and women generally.

APA’s vigorous support for women’s rights and equality is founded on a strong social science research record. Over the years, APA’s Council of Representatives, its governing body, has passed resolutions to: affirm a commitment to continue efforts to eliminate discrimination against women (1970); support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (1975); adopt Guidelines for Avoiding Sexism in Psychological Research (1988); define alcohol and drug abuse among women as a public health problem warranting a mental health rather than criminal justice response (1991); document the impact of male violence against women and identify means by which violence can be effectively addressed (1999); document the disproportionate impact of poverty on women and their families and identify means of moving individuals and families out of poverty (2000); and report the effects of the sexualization of girls in the media (APA, 2007).

APA’s efforts to establish fully the equality of women are based on the fundamental assumption that inequality between men and women not only disadvantages women, but substantially depletes essential human capacity in all corners of the world. For example, in many countries, women confront high rates of maternal and child mortality, which could be reduced by increasing the availability of prenatal care and skilled birth attendants (United Nations, 2010). Additionally, women represent more than half of those living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East (United Nations, 2010).  Strategies are needed to reduce women’s vulnerability to this disease, and treatment is needed for those who are infected. Finally, women and girls need greater access to education (United Nations, 2010). Two-thirds of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults are women, a proportion that has not changed over the past 20 years (United Nations, 2010). 

Additionally, human trafficking is dramatically increasing annually. The U.S. Department of State (USDOS, 2005) suggests that between 600,000 and 800,000 people have been recently trafficked in and within the U.S. alone. Approximately 80 percent of those trafficked across U.S. borders are women, with about half also being minors. Among the females trafficked, approximately 70 percent are trafficked for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, the largest subset of human trafficking (Curtol, Decarli, Di Nichola, & Savona, 2004; Hodge & Lietz, 2007; UNODC, 2009, 2010). The International Labour Organization (2005) estimates that nearly half of all victims (43 percent) worldwide are trafficked specifically for sexual exploitation, 32 percent for labor exploitation, 25 percent for a combination of both, and about half are under the age of 18.

While women in the U.S. enjoy opportunities and status that are not available to many women in other parts of the world, few would dispute that more progress is urgently needed. For example, domestic violence remains a serious problem in the U.S., with an average of four women per day murdered and 5.5 million women per year physically assaulted or raped by intimate partners (Catolon, Smith, Snyder, & Rand, 2009). In addition, compared to men, U.S. women continue to face issues of pay discrimination, higher high school drop-out rates, higher rates of poverty, and discrimination in education. CEDAW would provide a stimulus for greater focus on these disparities and increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide a statement on promoting equal rights for women globally and domestically. The Treaty for the Rights of Women represents a significant step toward addressing such atrocities and infringements on the rights of women. We hope that the U.S. Senate will concur and vote in support of the Treaty. For further information, please contact Shari E. Miles-Cohen, PhD, APA’s Director of the Women’s Programs Office, at (202) 336-6156.

References

American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf (PDF, 804KB)

Catalono, S., Smith, E., Snyder, H., & Rand, M. (2009). Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Female Victims of Violence. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf (PDF, 369KB)

Curtol, F., Decarli, S., Di Nicola, A., & Savona, E. U. (2004). Victims of human trafficking in Italy: A judicial perspective. International Review of Victimology, 11, 111-141

Hodge, D. R., & Lietz, C. A. (2007). The international sexual trafficking of women and children: A review of the literature. Journal of Women & Social Work, 22(2), 163-174.

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2005). A global alliance against forced labor. Geneva, Switzerland: Author. Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc93/pdf/rep-i-b.pdf (PDF, 1.4MB).

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2010). The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. New York: Author. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color.pdf (PDF, 7.8MB)

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2009). Global report on trafficking in persons. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/Global_Report_on_TIP.pdf (PDF, 23.1MB)

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2010). World Drug Report  2010: Human trafficking FAQs. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org

United States Department of State (USDOS) (2005). Trafficking in persons report, 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State.