What is Cities for CEDAW

Cities for CEDAW is a movement of city and local activists across the United States who are aiming to incorporate the gender-equity principles and obligations of CEDAW into city governance and local city policies.

In most countries, CEDAW is ratified by the national government, which then undertakes to incorporate the treaty’s gender equity principles into national, municipal and local policies and governance systems. The United States’ failure to ratify CEDAW means that local advocates have to move those gender-equity principles into local governance first, working from the bottom-up to effect both local and broader change.

Other cities across the United States have adopted CEDAW locally. While many cities have adopted CEDAW resolutions that affirm a city’s commitment to the principles of CEDAW, other cities have gone further by adopting CEDAW ordinances. Such ordinances create express legal requirements for city agencies and personnel to monitor the gender impacts of city policies on the population and to create plans of action to proactively address the gender equality gaps that are identified.

In 1998, San Francisco became the first city in the world to adopt this model. Its dramatic success has led other U.S. (and global) cities to follow suit, including Los Angeles, Louisville, KY, and Washington DC.

SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco became the first city in the world to adopt an ordinance reflecting the principles of CEDAW. Its city ordinance focuses specifically on health care, employment, economic development, educational opportunities, and violence against women and girls. San Francisco has served as the model for municipal CEDAW ordinances in the U.S., with other cities learning from and improving its provisions to fit local realities and community priorities.

How: The Ordinance requires action in the form of preventive and forward-thinking measures to ensure that City resources, policies, and actions do not intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against women and girls from any community. It brings accountability for gender equality into the hallways, conference rooms, sidewalks, and streets of local city and county government.

Effect: Since its implementation:

•   The Gender Equality Principles Initiative has expanded gender analysis into all city departments;
•   Female employment in professional jobs within the city of San Francisco has increased;
•   A “girls unit” was created in the Department of Juvenile Probation to provide gender-specific, trauma-focused services for girls;
•   Reduction in Domestic Violence, including a record 44 months without a single domestic violence homicide;
•   New city street lights for greater safety.

LOUISVILLE: In November 2014, Louisville approved a resolution to use CEDAW to frame future city policy aimed at ending gender-based discrimination. Under the resolution, Louisville “is committed to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, to promoting the health and safety of women and girls, and to affording them equal academic, economic and business opportunities in Louisville, Kentucky.”

WASHINGTON, DC: Washington, DC is the latest city to pass a CEDAW ordinance. “Local Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” passed the DC City Council as an amendment to its Human Rights Establishment Act.

Next up, BUFFALO.