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Indicators of Sex Discrimination
More than 20% of women students have and will experience a completed and/or
attempted rape during their college career.
Two million U.S. women report injuries from current or former partners and one in five
US women will be the victim of gender-based violence in her lifetime.
The economic gap between men and women continues, with women earning only 77¢
for every dollar a man makes.
Over a 40 year career, an average woman will earn $434,000 less than her male
counterpart and in retirement receive a proportionately smaller pension or social
Unlike all other developed nations, the maternal death rate in the U.S. is rising
One in five pregnant women are without health insurance.
Despite a net gain in the number of women in congress, the U.S. ranking has dropped
to 83rd on the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s census of women in national legislatures
The U.S. Constitution
does not grant equal rights to women
and U.S. law does not adequately and
consistently define discrimination
Provides a clear, comprehensive and internationally recognized legal
definition of DISCRIMINATION,* currently lacking in U.S. jurisprudence
"...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex
which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the
recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their
marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human
rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social,
cultural, civil or any other field."
*This legal definition of discrimination is consistent with that encoded into the U.N.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
What Is CEDAW?
CEDAW is the acronym for the United Nations’ Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
CEDAW is an international human rights treaty that went into effect as
international law in 1981.
U.N. Member States (countries) that participate in the treaty are
obligated to integrate CEDAW’s provisions for eliminating
discrimination into their national constitutions and laws, their
structures and procedures of governance, and court rulings.
What Does CEDAW Accomplish?
By adopting CEDAW, countries commit to undertake measures to end
discrimination against women in all forms, including:
• Adopt principle of equality of men and women in the legal system, abolish all
discriminatory laws and adopt laws prohibiting discrimination against women;
• Establish boards and public bodies to ensure protection of women against
• Ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons,
organizations or enterprises.
Although 187 Countries have already done so . . .
You don’t need to be a nation state
to adopt CEDAW
Over 40 cities and towns have passed resolutions endorsing CEDAW
Over 20 state legislatures have passed resolutions endorsing CEDAW;
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland (OR) and Berkeley (CA) have all
adopted CEDAW as municipal law.
“Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places,
close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen
on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the
individual person; the neighborhood
he lives in; the school or college he
attends; the factory, farm
or office where
Eleanor Roosevelt, remarks delivered at the United Nations in New York on March 27, 1958
While the CEDAW Treaty operates at the
International level, the San Francisco
municipal CEDAW Ordinance
adopted in 1999
brings accountability for gender equality into the
hallways, conference rooms, sidewalks, and
streets of local city and county government.
CEDAW’S History in the U.S.
• Approved by
Durbin held a
CEDAW in a
Casey held a
But CEDAW has still not been adopted nationally.
Senate Hearing Reignites Hope
For CEDAW and I-VAWA
On June 24th, 2014 Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee chair Senator
Barbara Boxer held a hearing, featuring testimony by an unprecedented
number of women senators, who called for action on CEDAW and VAWA to
stem the tide of violence against women and girls across the globe.
But no action was taken on a national level.
Hundreds of civic, religious and labor organizations have endorsed CEDAW
All established social science methods for predicting human rights treaty
ratification indicate that the U.S. would have ratified CEDAW decades ago.
In her book "Defying Convention" author Lisa Baldez highlights why the U.S.
Senate has not ratified CEDAW including:
The deeply partisan nature of women's rights initiatives in the US
Basic disagreements about how treaties work
Women must act to end discrimination
• We cannot wait any longer.
• Cities and towns can adopt municipal ordinances implementing
CEDAW’s standards of discrimination and accountability measures,
bypassing the Senate’s inertia.
• We can learn from these local innovations in improved service
delivery, budgetary allocations and staffing practices,
• While creating a better future for today’s children and the planet.
The Goals of the Cities for CEDAW
Campaign are Clear:
• 100 Mayors speak out for CEDAW by June 2015;
• 100 municipal CEDAW ordinances adopted by January 2016;
• Improve the lives of millions of women;
• Build critical mass at the grassroots for
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Raise awareness of the issues
Create the political will within Civil Society to effect change
Apply CEDAW to Local Municipalities
Every municipal ordinance may be unique in responding to local governmental
structures and culture.
However, we’ve learned from those cities that have already adopted CEDAW
that effective implementation requires:
• Active support from local government leaders;
• Gender analysis to ensure gender responsive allocation of public resources;
• Relevant data collection to enable gender analysis and implement measures;
• A mechanism for funding these activities;
• Partnership with civil society groups and individual women in the community.
How CEDAW is making change in
San Francisco adopted a CEDAW implementation ordinance in 1999.
• Public Works placed greater street lighting for better safety.
• Department of Juvenile Probation Created a “girls unit” providing
gender-specific, trauma-focused services for girls.
• Increase in female employment in professional jobs within the city of
• Gender Equality Principles Initiative to expand gender analysis.
• Reduction in domestic violence
TALK WITH YOUR FRIENDS
AND NEIGHBORS ABOUT
HOW CEDAW CAN ADDRESS
IN YOUR TOWN
Stay connected by signing up for our mailing list at
Use the resources on our website to learn more about CEDAW and
about the 100 Cities for CEDAW Campaign
When you’re ready to start, form a local coalition
Investigate discrimination as it is happening in your town
Design a local ordinance that will address these concerns using CEDAW’s
definition of discrimination and a human rights approach
Give as generously as you can to keep this campaign on track!
Remember: 100 U.S. Cities for CEDAW by January 2016
for your interest in the
Cities for CEDAW Campaign.
We look forward to working with you to
end discrimination in your city.
Copyright 2014, Nancy Rock and Laura Roskos.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Ione Biggs and Billie Heller for starting this work and our special
thanks to Mary Sue Barnett, Rachel Crosby, Krishanti Dhamaraj, Nancy Munger, Emily
Murase and Soon-Young Yoon for their assistance with this presentation.