SUBMITTED RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - March 05, 2007)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise today to submit a Senate resolution designating March 8, 2007, as International Women's Day. Since 1911, International Women's Day has provided a chance for people all over the world to pause and observe the remarkable steps that women have made in their fight for equality and recommit themselves to dosing lingering gender disparities. I am particularly pleased that I am joined by a tremendous group of women who are original co-sponsors of today's measure, Senators BOXER, CANTWELL, CLINTON, FEINSTEIN, KLOBUCHAR, LANDRIEU, MIKULSKI, MURRAY and STABENOW. These nine senators are living testament to the progress and promise of women's achievements. They are trailblazers and role models to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude.
Besides the steady increase in the number of women senators, I need only look down the hallway to see another sign of extraordinary progress in 2007--the first ever woman Speaker of House, Representative NANCY PELOSI. Similar electoral accomplishments can be found in other countries. For instance, Michelle Bachelet became the first female President of Chile and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became first female President in Liberia in the history of Africa. In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.
Of course, participation in the political process is but one marker of women's empowerment and equal footing. Access to education, economic security, employment nondiscrimination, eradication of poverty, equality before the law, access to HIV/AIDS prevention and other health care services, and freedom from gender-based violence, including human trafficking--these are all critical benchmarks of women's progress.
An essential component to achieving gender equality is ending violence against women--an issue about which I care deeply. The time is now to concentrate our energies on efforts to end domestic and sexual violence abroad.
Last year Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, an accomplishment that shows real consensus and momentum to end gender-based violence and heal America's families. The United Nations and the World Health Organizations have released ground-breaking studies on the prevalence and impact of domestic violence globally. Finally, international service organizations are finding that their efforts to help women in the field, be it opening the school doors to girls or getting HIV/AIDS medicine to young women, are ultimately ineffectual if we do not help these same women escape from violent homes.
Furthermore, gender-based violence is pervasive in conflicts around the globe. In Darfur, women are systematically raped as a weapon of war. In Afghanistan, Safia Ama Jan, became the first female assassinated since the fall of the Taliban. Just last week, two Iraqi women accused the Iraqi national security forces of gang-raping them in Baghdad headquarters. This year's theme for International Women's Day is ``Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls'--a fitting mandate for all of us.
I am working on legislative measures to fight the global epidemic of gender-based violence. In addition, International Women's Day is also a perfect opportunity for the Administration to review its position and support ratification of the International Women's Rights Treaty (formally known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)). I whole heartedly support this human rights treaty that brings together in one document women's economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights and is an important tool for women rights advocates around the globe.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Ending the systemic discrimination of women is not just a woman's issue, it is not just the responsibility of heads of state or Nobel Peace Prize winners, it is everyone's moral responsibility. You cannot build peace and you cannot build democracy when half of the population is not free. And no country can reach its full potential when women are not allowed to fully contribute. Spreading democracy must mean empowering women, ending domestic and sexual violence and holding abusers fully accountable. I urge my colleagues to join our Resolution to Commemorate International Women's Day on March 8th and thank advocates everywhere who work day in and day out I to improve women's lives.