Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

International Women 's Rights

Adopted at the Convention of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis
1994 / 5754

Background: The Central Conference of American Rabbis has consistently advocated equal rights for women in all aspects of life: political, economic and social. The equality of women in religious life has been a principle of Reform Judaism since its inception. While Judaism has not historically granted women equal rights under traditional Halacha , Jewish tradition has recognized from the beginning that women were created equal to men in the most fundamental sense--"in the Divine image, male and female God created them and blessed them" (Genesis 1:27). In addition, violence against women was prohibited by our sages; marital rape was forbidden (Eruvin 100b), and authorities from Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg (Responsa Even Ha-ezer 297,298,718-C) to Rabbi Moses Isseries (Shulkan Aruch, 1634) unambiguously condemned spousal abuse, physical or verbal. Furthermore, the traditional Ketubbah , while not egalitarian, protected other economic rights of women. Also, though women were traditionally unable to serve as legal witnesses, they were given equal protection under economic contracts and were allowed to inherit when there were no male heirs (Numbers 27:8).

Although past CCAR resolutions on women's equality implied that equal rights ought to be extended to women worldwide, fundamental abuses of women across the globe now compel us to articulate our support for international women's rights directly. This resolution unequivocally expresses our belief that women everywhere deserve the same rights and opportunities as their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons; that discrimination according to gender is unjust, and that women's rights are unquestionably human rights.
Throughout the world, women are discriminated against and suffer intolerable abuses because of their gender. All too often, they are denied such fundamental freedoms as the right to vote, travel freely, testify in court, inherit property, choose a spouse and obtain custody of their children. In addition, women have unequal access to education, employment, health care and even food. As a result, 70 percent of the world's rapidly growing poverty-stricken population is female. Furthermore, women worldwide are subject to such abuses as domestic violence, rape, forced prostitution and other forms of exploitation, and even genital mutilation.
This unequal treatment is more than a matter of the denial of abstract rights--it is a matter of life and death. In many nations, women and girls are dying and disappearing at a rate that indicates they are being deliberately eliminated. The 1991 census found 100 million fewer women than statistics expected. In Asia alone, reports revealed at least 60 million "missing women"--females whose births were recorded, who then disappeared.
In the words of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW)such discrimination "violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity."

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

1) Supports efforts to put an end, once and for all, to the vast numbers of human rights abuses suffered by women, simply because they are women;

2) Urges members to educate themselves, their congregations and their communities as to the nature, prevalence and manifestations of discrimination against women worldwide;

3) Calls upon the United States to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);

4) Commends Canada for its ratification of CEDAW, and

5) Calls upon the governments of the United States and Canada to:

a. Consider a nation's record on human rights, including women's rights, in determining foreign aid packages, trade status, trade agreements and other forms of assistance;

b. Seek a higher level of United Nations commitment to women's equality as a human right; call upon all nations to give equal opportunity to female children and urge all nations that have ratified CEDAW to assure that practices comply with provisions of the treaty as they are ratified; and

c. Ensure that discussion of the human rights of women is included in all relevant global conferences.