University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law

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The fight to protect women’s rights is critical now more than ever. The World Bank has noted that women throughout the world “have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men.”1 On the domestic front in the United States, the battleground remains fraught with blows to the women’s rights movement, especially on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rollback of reproductive rights. Statements made by the Biden Administration in support of global women’s rights, for example, have been met with inadequate action on the legislative front; the most pertinent standstill has come from the fight over the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”), a long and drawn-out battle that has left the United States virtually alone in failing to explicitly affirm the global rights of women. This gap between promise and action leaves one main question open, what can be done?

This comment aims to provide an answer to this question by proposing an alternative approach to the problem: using transnational civil litigation as a way to better protect the rights of women, both domestically and abroad, in United States courts. Specifically, this comment will propose a novel transnational litigation statute, the Women’s Equality Act (“WEA”), which will serve as an important, if not imperative, addition to the current domestic legal framework absent CEDAW ratification. Through multiple arguments taking into account practical and policy-oriented benefits, as well as both domestic and international legal elements, this comment’s goal is to provide the reader, whether that be a policymaker, a decisionmaker in government, or an expert in the field of global women’s rights with the base and the tools to take the WEA from an idea to a reality.