from international human rights to local policies for women
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The city of San Francisco is notorious for breaking the United States’ political mold. When it comes to women’s organizing, the trend is no different. In 1998, San Francisco became the first municipality to adopt CEDAW: the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. A United Nations human rights declaration, CEDAW has been ratified by 185 countries around the world; but not San Francisco’s own federal government. The International Museum of Women, which is based in San Francisco, looks at how one unorthodox city is attracting the world’s attention by transcending its own national borders and turning CEDAW into policies that better women’s lives.
What is CEDAW?
CEDAW is the foremost U.N. treaty that addresses sex-based discrimination. It defines discrimination as:
“Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex…in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
It was drafted by the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. The declaration lays out 30 articles that address everything from voting rights to land ownership to responsibility sharing in childcare to accessible education for girls to maternal health …
… Being Part of a Global Movement.
For the women putting CEDAW into practice in San Francisco, being part of a global human rights movement has been inspirational — even if it has meant bypassing their own federal government to do so. They have been invited to U.N. trainings and conferences and have met women from across the Americas who are working on their same struggle for gender equity.
“It’s always so inspiring to come together with people from other countries and see what others are doing at the ground level. It helps to keep each other going,” says Lehman, “because this work is hard.” (full text).