logobottom.GIF (8204 bytes)


CONTACTS: Press Office, Office of the Mayor, (415)554-6131
Gail Stein, Office of Supervisor Kaufman, (415)554-4880
Sonia Melara, Commission on the Status of Women, (415)252-2570
Robin Levi, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, (415)837-0795


On April 14, 1998, Mayor Willie Brown Jr. of San Francisco signed a city ordinance in support of women’s rights, calling it an important and long-overdue step toward ending any type of discrimination against women. The mayor signed the city ordinance to implement the principles underlying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at the conclusion of San Francisco’s first ever "Mayor’s Summit for Women." Although at least seven states, six counties, and six cities have passed resolutions urging U.S. ratification of CEDAW, none has taken the step of implementing its requirements within its jurisdiction.

"San Francisco is showing the way in protecting the rights of all women," Brown said. "The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that has yet to ratify CEDAW- also known as the Bill of Rights for women. We are moving forward on CEDAW to set an example for the rest of the nation. It is long overdue. We can only encourage others to quickly follow suit."

The ordinance was accomplished through a collaborative effort involving community and government organizations led by the Women's Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights (WILD), which promotes women’s human rights in the United States, and the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. Also participating and lending strong support were the Board of Supervisors, The Women's Foundation, Human Rights Commission, and Amnesty International USA.

Board of Supervisors President Barbara Kaufman introduced the ordinance at a March 2 board meeting. According to Supervisor Kaufman, "San Francisco must take a leadership role in protecting women’s human rights. We cannot wait for the US government. This ordinance gives the principles of CEDAW some teeth." The ordinance was unanimously approved by the board and sent to Brown for his signature.

The legislation designates the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women as the implementing organization and establishes a CEDAW Task Force composed of members from governmental and community organizations. The Commission will conduct gender analyses of the employment, funding allocation, and direct and indirect service delivery practices of selected city departments. The Commission will develop Action Plans to redress any discrimination found. In addition, the Commission will provide human rights trainings to all city departments. Sonia Melara, executive director of the Commission stated, "These studies will provide the city with the information necessary to defend the human rights of women and girls in San Francisco."

According to Krishanti Dharmaraj, executive director of WILD, "This legislation sends a strong message to the U.S. government that women and girls expect their rights to not only be acknowledged but also enforced. San Francisco may be the first city, but it will not be the last. Several cities have already contacted WILD about passing similar laws in their own communities."

Back to CEDAW Main Page