Beth Soderberg:

Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority on Senator Joseph Biden’s Selection as the Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate

Having met with and worked with Senator Biden on many issues over more than two decades, I know he is committed to ending injustices towards women and securing equality. Over the years, Senator Biden has proven to be a friend of the women’s movement. On a whole host of issues, Biden has been there for women, but in this statement I would just like to highlight a few.

For years, Senator Biden has been a champion in the fight to end violence against women. He was not only the principal sponsor of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but he was the chief navigator and champion of the issue in the Senate. He has ensured in 2000 and 2006 the reauthorization of this act, which provides vital federal funding for women’s shelters and programs for the reduction of violence against women. This trailblazing act originally provided that a woman has a civil right to enter federal court to secure monetary damages against her abuser. Although this section of the act was struck down by a conservative Supreme Court, Biden demonstrated his commitment to empowering women and his determination to rectify injustices.

Biden has also led in the struggle for women’s equality worldwide. He is a strong supporter of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international women’s human rights treaty. As the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, he held the first hearings on CEDAW. Also, his leadership led to the passage of the Afghan Women’s Empowerment Act, which provided vital funding for women and girl’s schools, employment training, and health clinics as well as for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Biden has demonstrated that he not only understands the plight of Afghan women, but that he has also vigorously opposed Bush Administration policies toward Afghanistan that have not fulfilled our promise to Afghan women.

Biden’s demonstrated leadership and accomplishments for women constitute an asset, which can not be underestimated in importance for this historic Democratic ticket in winning women’s votes.