On Tuesday, January 20, over 200 city officials, NGO and human rights leaders gathered for Cities for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women), hosted by the Metro NY Chapter of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women and the YWCA of Brooklyn, in collaboration with Councilwoman Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues.
The day included a virtual conference that attracted people from across the country. In New York, an expert panel discussed CEDAW from the perspective of UN Women, how the CEDAW city ordinance has impacted San Francisco and the benefits of implementing CEDAW in New York City. Panelists included Lopa Banerjee, Chief of the Civil Society Section at UN Women; Nozipho Bardill, Chief of Staff for UN Women and Former South Africa Ambassador to Switzerland; Krishanit Dharmaraj, CEO of Dignity Index Group; Julie Kay, Senior Strategist for the Ms. Foundation for Women; and Laurie Cumbo, Council member for District 35.
CEDAW is the only comprehensive international treaty on women’s rights. While 188 nations have ratified CEDAW, the United States remains the only major industrialized country not to ratify the treaty. The purpose of the Cities for CEDAW Campaign is to “make the global local” by harnessing the power of cities and promoting the adoption of CEDAW as a municipal ordinance in order to create a framework for improving the status of women and girls. In 1998, San Francisco – with a strong and effective women’s community – became the first municipality to adopt a local CEDAW Ordinance. Implementing CEDAW has made a measurable difference in public safety, budgetary allocations and employment in San Francisco.
We need CEDAW in New York City now because it will help end violence against women, close the wage gap, increase women’s participation in local government and support women’s full potential at all levels. The YWCA of Brooklyn is proud to see CEDAW gaining traction in New York City and looks forward to seeing the positive impact for women and girls that will certainly come as this initiative continues.