As someone who has been interested in local and global feminist issues for a number of years now, I have heard much about how CEDAW (the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) has been ratified in 187 of 194 UN member states, and the US is not one of them. Even Afghanistan, with questionable allegiance to securing women’s rights post-9/11, ratified CEDAW.
The reasons the US has as of yet not ratified CEDAW stem from concerns of conservatives, including the worry it might undermine the US’ sovereignty, and that it will have negative effects on marriage and families. You can find a more detailed list of reasons here. And for a great resource of separating fact from fiction with CEDAW’s objectives, check out WEDO’s factsheet.
Given the US Senate’s resistance to ratifying CEDAW in a process that has been dragging out since 1980 when then-President Jimmy Carter signed the convention, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that San Francisco adopted CEDAW’s principles back in 1998. I wasn’t aware that any US city or county had taken the initiative to conform to international women’s rights standards, despite the federal government’s failure to do so. As far as I’m aware, San Francisco and Berkeley (CA) are the only local governments to adopt CEDAW’s principles.
San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women is responsible for the implementation of CEDAW. Since 1998, the city of San Francisco has seen many measures put into place to improve the status of women, including: implementing flexible work schedules, installing more streetlights to prevent violence against women, and imposing stricter sentences for domestic violence perpetrators. More of the changes that have been put into place in San Francisco can be found here.
I recently relocated to the Bay Area and was thrilled to discover San Francisco’s progressiveness with promoting women’s rights! I hope that this can be an example to other US cities and counties, and eventually with the federal government.