CEDAW, Human Rights, Women, Gender, Feminism, Social Movements, Development


While the United States has ratified many of the international human rights treaties, some have been left languishing in the Senate including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In response to Senate failure to ratify the women's treaty, the city of San Francisco passed its own CEDAW ordinance in 1998 to implement the principles of women's human rights in its jurisdiction. Several factors contributed to the successful passage of the CEDAW ordinance, including a sturdy base of feminist institutions developed over three decades of women's activism, determined leadership with the commitment, skills, and time to organize the effort, and political will nurtured and sustained through community education. The implementation phase was facilitated by concrete goals that gave specificity to the idea of women's human rights and participatory practices that diffused opposition and engaged city residents in devising solutions to unequal treatment. The San Francisco case provides a useful model for activists in the Cities for CEDAW movement that hope to implement the principles of CEDAW in other municipalities.