“Women belong in the house…and the Senate”. No, I didn’t find a name to credit this quote to, but it strikes me as something so simple and obvious, something that just about anyone could come up with. And yet there is still so much to be accomplished in the area of women’s rights, beginning here in the United States. Which is why Colgate’s chapter of Amnesty International will be taking part in the National Week for Student Action, beginning next Monday, April 3.
Along the lines of that opening statement, however, only 14% of Congress is made up of women. One out of every six women has been a victim of either attempted or completed rape. In 2003, the median income of full-time, year-round U.S. workers was $41,520 for men and $31,663 for women. But let’s broaden our focus beyond the United States for a minute.
The rape of women has been used as a tool of terrorism and ethnic cleansing in conflicts in Bosnia, Rwanda, and more recently in Darfur, Sudan. The United Nations reports that women remain vulnerable to sexual violence during flight, in refugee camps, in countries of asylum and resettlement, and during and after repatriation to their home countries. Studies have found that refugee women and girls are often forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity in exchange for food and other basic resources. Of the 125 million children worldwide who have never attended school, 2/3 of them are girls. Coincidence?
Hence, the United Nations Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has emerged. The treaty seeks to end violence against women, ensure access to education and health care, provide equal protection under law, and prevent other abuses of human rights. However, the United States is the only industrialized nation which has not signed this treaty. And this is where you, the Colgate student and citizen, come in.
There are so many ways to get involved, either by stopping at Amnesty’s Coop tables throughout the upcoming week, or through your own clubs and activities. And this doesn’t have to be limited to women’s rights, either. Find something that strikes you in the newspaper, or an issue on campus (on that note, SGA Presidential Elections are coming up, so people should go out and vote). Attend a lecture or Brown Bag. And keep the discussions going in the classroom, at club meetings, heck, even at the Jug.
Because really, everyone, from Model UN to the Juggling Club, has something to care about. And next week, April 3-7, would be a great time to begin.
(Note: all statistics and info regarding CEDAW are taken from Amnesty International at http://www.kintera.org/site/c.aeJLI0OCIrH/b.1507905/k.5A50/Facts__Quotes_on_CEDAW.htm )