Today, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law is holding a hearing to consider the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  It’s a very important occasion for U.S. advocates for women.

I’m very honored to be one of the witnesses testifying in support of CEDAW ratification today, along with several other extraordinary witnesses.

Today I want to lay out as forcefully as I can to the Senate why it is an urgent project for the U.S. to ratify CEDAW, and at last join 186 other nations in affirming the importance of progress for women and girls. I’m very proud of our country’s history as a strong global leader on women’s rights. But by failing to ratify, we have denied women and girls around the world our valuable leadership and support on the implementation of CEDAW.

We’ve also missed out on opportunities to learn from other countries about effective strategies for advancing women’s rights here at home. Although the U.S. is unquestionably a leader in women’s rights, like every other country in the world we have our own challenges to confront. Gender-based violence, trafficking of women, maternal health, and poverty among women persist in the U.S. today—and CEDAW offers a framework for progress on those and other important fronts.

The American public strongly supports the values promoted in CEDAW, and CEDAW has been instrumental in fostering significant change in many nations around the world. Several countries, including Mexico and Nepal, have made immense progress in addressing problems of gender-based violence and trafficking through the CEDAW framework. CEDAW has led to wider availability of secondary school education for girls in Bangledesh. With U.S. ratification and leadership, even greater strides could be made in promoting these important goals.

The American public understands that women’s rights are human rights. It’s time for the Senate to ratify CEDAW and support equality and justice for women and girls in the most fundamental way.