Chelsea Clinton sounded the alarm today, pointing out yet another way that the Trump administration is doing all that it can to reverse the gears of progress and drag America back to its chauvinistic past.
The former first daughter tweeted a link to an article in The Guardian reporting on the dilution being negotiated by U.S. officials of the language included in an international agreement on women’s rights that threatens to weaken and undermine the principles that America had already signed onto at the fourth world conference of women held in Beijing in 1995.
Another disappointing though not surprising move by the Trump administration to dilute U.S. support for women's rights around the world: https://t.co/tNqsbzZPYX
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 18, 2019
The Trump administration is attempting to alter the wording of the resolution being drafted by the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to replace references to “gender” with references only to women and girls, apparently as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to define transgender people out of existence. The modification of the language in the document comes after a similar attempt to pull the same stunt at the UN human rights council last year.
Even worse, according to draft documents reviewed by The Guardian, the Trump administration is now refusing to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the landmark Beijing declaration and platform for action on women’s rights.
The reversal of American policy is disturbing to the international participants in the negotiations according to the newspaper.
“Muadi Mukenge, chief of development and external relations at the reproductive health NGO Ipas, said the US taking a step back from Beijing was ‘a cause for concern’.”
“’The US played a leadership role in the passage of Beijing, so to take a step back is regrettable. We know so many areas of Beijing have not been realised yet. There are still gaps and inequalities and it would be irresponsible for the US to take this position,’ said Mukenge.”
“’When the US speaks it has an impact on the global conversation. It could potentially set a precedent. We already have governments that are hostile to the consensus they agreed to previously.'” Mukenge concluded.
The Guardian also reports that “the US also wants references to migration and climate change completely removed from the CSW document.”
Tellingly, the latest Trump administration position on the document is more closely aligned with the views of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia — countries that consistently seek to undermine agreements on women’s reproductive health and rights at the UN — than with our traditional European allies.
“They [the US] are coming into the negotiations in a way that is very aggressive and that advances an anti-gender, anti-woman position from the very start,” aid
“One of the first things they have tried to do is block reaffirmation of Beijing and subsequent documents … trying to downplay the political importance of this document as setting out the vision for women’s human rights. They are trying to weaken commitments to that overall.” said Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition.
Given that the American negotiation team includes Valerie Huber — a proponent of abstinence-only sex education and now a senior policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services — and Bethany Kozma — an anti-choice activist and senior advisor for women’s empowerment at the US Agency for International Development — the change in direction is not surprising.
According to The Guardian:
“In a speech to CSW on Friday, Cherith Norman Chalet, US ambassador for UN management and reform, said ‘we are not about gender jargon. Today, here at the Commission on the Status of Women, we are about women. Women and girls. The life of all women and girls’.”
“Chalet added: ‘The United States is also committed to protecting the precious gift of life, including the protection of baby girls who would have been aborted, merely because they are female’.”
Shannon Kowalski of the International Women’s Health Coalition feels that the newly reactionary American position on the negotiations “was emboldening other countries to take a regressive position.” Other U.S. based women’s advocates agreed.
“Stephanie L Schmid, US foreign policy counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the decision ‘sends a clear message that the United States does not care about the plight of women and girls and is part of a comprehensive effort to erase sexual and reproductive health and rights from global discourse. This erasure is a blatant and unapologetic rejection of the basic principle that reproductive rights are human rights’.”
With the majority of American media ignoring the many insidious ways that the Trump administration is dragging the country kicking and screaming into an even more inequitable past, we must thank Chelsea Clinton for bringing attention to the president’s promotion of policies that will undermine the rights of over half the population of the country.
Hopefully the awareness that Chelsea Clinton has brought to what is happening will ensure that Trump’s share of the female vote going forward will be as tiny as his intellect.
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Original reporting by Liz Ford at The Guardian.