July 17, 2013

Regarding “Pakistan’s Malala gives birthday speech” [World Digest, July 13]:

It is worth noting that the inspiring speech by Malala Yousafzai, the teenager shot by the Taliban while campaining for girls’ education, came as we approach the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, where he gave his “I have a dream” speech, and follows in the footsteps of the courageous children who took the moral high ground in 1963 by standing up against violence in Selma and Montgomery, Ala.

Ms. Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations reminds us that the United States’ struggle for civil rights is part of a global movement for civil and human rights. The basic human rights she is fighting for — education and empowerment for women and girls — are enshrined in the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a convention ratified by more than 180 nations but, shamefully, not by the United States. The CEDAW committee that monitors treaty compliance has grilled Pakistan about Ms. Yousafzai’s case and called for strong action to stop violence against women and girls and all forms of extremism. That call would be stronger if the United States also ratified CEDAW. It seems the very least we can ask the Senate to do.

June Zeitlin, Washington

The writer is director of the CEDAW Education Project at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.