By Kate Kelly & JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute
A number of recent and exciting developments in the local implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have occurred over the past year. There are now 9 ordinances in place, and 28 city, county and state governments have adopted CEDAW resolutions. There is also growing momentum of women’s rights movements around the country, including the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the ongoing work evidenced by women’s marches and other groups demanding accountability.
To build upon this energy, and continue the momentum, the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights convened a CEDAW strategy session on the margins of the 2018 UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. This meeting was a unique chance for advocates from around the country to collaborate, share lessons learned, and support each other in efforts to operationalize CEDAW at the local level. Representatives from CEDAW advocacy groups, local government, and academia, representing over 20 cities and counties were present, from Portland to Pittsburgh and Denver to Durham, and many places in between.
To ensure that advocates across the country can continue to raise awareness of what CEDAW entails and how it can be useful in the local context, the meeting conveners developed user-friendly materials that include a two-pager that distills the basic provisions of CEDAW, as well as a plain language guide to all of the General Recommendations from the CEDAW Committee, reflecting interpretations of the treaty. These materials are available on the Cities for CEDAW website, along with more in-depth guidance for implementing CEDAW locally.