Should an appointed body of the United Nations be defining "family education" or "maternity as a social function" as it is ap plied in a local community?
Sound unreal? Not according to the plans of the committee that has the authority to administer the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty that may soon be up for ratification by the U.S. Senate.For example, Part 1, Article 5 of CEDAW says, "States parties shall take all appropriate measures:
" To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women;
" To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the rec-og-nition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all cases."
When I was in Beijing (at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women), I asked the U.S. delegation who would decide what was in the "interest of the children"? They said it would be decided "on a case by case basis" (not by the parents). It was also clear, at that conference, that the "social and cultural pattern" and "stereotyped role" of women as mothers was totally unacceptable. Even the concept of fathers as the provider of the family was unacceptable.
Also, "maternity as a social function" is usually interpreted within the U.N. system to mean population control.
This past week, I was in New York at the U.S. mission to the United Nations when the U.S. delegation announced that March 11 would be the kickoff date for an extensive campaign to educate U.S. senators to achieve their support for the ratification of CEDAW.
I recently returned from meetings at the United Nations, where the final wording of an optional protocol on CEDAW is being drafted. This optional protocol would be another international treaty that would establish a legal body within the United Nations to enforce the provisions of the CEDAW. This committee would have the power of a court to require nations to bring all of their laws in compliance with CEDAW, once the optional protocol is ratified. The greatest danger of the optional protocol is the power of this second international treaty to overturn national sovereignty in areas of family and social law.
In addition to establishing a mechanism for complaint and enforcement against a nation that has violated the established "rights" of women, the optional protocol would give the new legal committee the power to enforce "obligations" of a nation. As defined by the CEDAW committee, this would include the obligations of "any person, organization or enterprise" within the nation that has signed CEDAW.
Throughout CEDAW, discrimination is defined as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex that affects women's enjoyment of political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other rights . . . ." Article 4 clearly allows for affirmative action (temporary special measures) to achieve these goals.
While I recognize the need for greater attention to the need for equality for women in the developing nations of the world, this treaty could create more problems than it solves. The disintegration of the family unit has greatly contributed to the feminization of poverty. As CEDAW works to turn our society into a unisex society, the main result may be further deterioration of the family unit as the important "roles" of father and mother are de-emphasized and denigrated.