International Women’s Rights

Resolution Adopted by the


International Women

‘s Rights

Adopted at the

Convention of the

Central Conference of American Rabbis

1994 / 5754


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


, Jewish

tradition has recognized from the beginning that women were created


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


Meir of Rothenberg




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


economic contracts and were allowed to inherit when there were no male

heirs (Numbers 27:8).


past CCAR resolutions on women’s equality implied that equal rights


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


to gender is unjust, and that women’s rights are unquestionably human


Throughout the world, women are

discriminated against and suffer intolerable abuses

because of their gender. All too often, they are

denied such fundamental freedoms


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


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


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


100 million fewer women than statistics expected. In Asia alone,

reports revealed

at least 60

million “missing women”–females whose births were recorded, who


disappeared.       &nbsp


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.”


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


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


the treaty as they are ratified; and

c. Ensure that discussion of the human rights of women is

included in all relevant