The CEDAW ordinance of San Francisco: mainstreaming, translating and implementing women’s human rights at the city level..

Presented at the Cortona Colloquium 2008 – Gender and Citizenship: New and Old Dilemmas, Between Equality and Difference, Cortona, Italy, 7-9 November 2008.

Drawing on literatures on human rights, gender policy and urban politics, this paper analyzes some aspects related to the CEDAW ordinance of the municipality of San Francisco, aiming mainstream and implement the UN women’s rights convention at the local level in the areas of public employment, violence against women and health care. The idea of the ordinance followed some women’s participation in the 1995 UN Beijing Conference and was developed by a joint effort of women from the city government and NGOs. The paper focuses, first, on the work of “translation” of CEDAW into the city ordinance, highlighting the adaptation of the Convention to the local legal context and political priorities. Second, it investigates the first phase of implementation of the CEDAW ordinance into municipal policies, both successes and failures. Reasons for these different outcomes include the attitudes and perceptions of women’s issues by the different departments’ staff, this staff turnover, and the departments’ overall workload. The last part of the paper briefly   illuminates on the economic and political reasons that led to a stoppage of the implementation of the ordinance in 2003. The paper ends with some reflections on the different ways in which the experiment of the ordinance talks to different literatures.

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