Opinion: Dispelling Myths About San Diego County Women’s Justice Ordinance

A young girl walks with her family at the Women's March of San Diego in downtown San Diego.
A young girl walks with her family during the 2018 San Diego Women’s March in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Last Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors held a public meeting to discuss and vote on an ordinance to promote gender justice, consistent with principles enshrined in the 1979 law. United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women — CEDAW for short.

Supervisors voted to approve the ordinance’s first reading and recommended passing the ordinance after the second reading on May 10. The order is expected to come into effect in mid-June.

San Diego will be the latest in a long line of cities and counties across the United States – from Miami to Pittsburgh to Irvine to San Francisco. Indeed, over the past decade, a base “Cities for CEDAWThe movement has federated around these measures. This has resulted in significant and concrete gains for local residents.

We are members of the team of gender justice advocates who worked on San Diego’s CEDAW ordinance. In developing this measure, we consulted local and national experts on a range of relevant social justice and human rights issues. We have also asked the opinion of the people of San Diegoorganizing two public forums exclusively devoted to measurement.

We greatly appreciate the many suggestions offered during these forums and have used them to shape the final version. However, some of the public comments during the forums and last week’s board meeting raised issues that we believe require clarification. We submit this editorial in an effort to dispel many of the most persistent myths surrounding the prescription.

Myth #1: The CEDAW order changes existing US law by “redefining women”. The Office of County Counsel confirmed that the order complies with applicable U.S. law, which protects the rights of all people who may experience gender-based discrimination, including cisgender, transgender and non-cisgender people. gender-conform.

The order could not have been submitted to the council without the legal permission of the County Counsel. Further, the text of the order makes it clear that the order is to be interpreted in a manner consistent with applicable law.

Myth #2: Because of its inclusiveness, this order discriminates against cisgender women. Despite assertions to the contrary, the ordinance does not state or otherwise indicate that the rights of any member of the community will be interpreted in such a way as to threaten the rights of any other member of the community.

Gender justice is not a zero-sum game. In fact, research has shown that people of all genders — including cisgender men — benefit when societies move closer to gender equality. The ordinance is resolutely inclusive, seeking to promote the safety and well-being of all women, girls and gender minorities; indeed, that is its main purpose.

Myth #3: The order is an improper ratification of CEDAW. Local CEDAW ordinances do not purport to ratify the treaty itself — they are measures that reflect the key principles that underpin CEDAW while responding to local needs and considerations. Under the Constitution, the United States can only become a party to an international treaty once the President has signed it and the Senate has ratified it by a two-thirds vote.

The United States played a vital role in drafting CEDAW, and President Carter signed the treaty within months of its finalization. However, the treaty was never put to a vote by the full Senate. Therefore, the United States remains one of six countries not to be a party to the treaty, along with Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Palau and Tonga.

Myth #4: San Diego doesn’t need a measure of gender equity because many county departments have achieved gender parity. While some county departments have made commendable progress in improving diversity, more needs to be done to achieve gender justice throughout San Diego. According to Census Bureau Statistics, women are 14% more likely to live in poverty than men, and the poverty rate for single-parent families is more than twice that of the general population. These are just two of many indicators showing areas for improvement in the county.

California’s CEDAW Resolution stressed the “need to strengthen… effective local mechanisms, institutions and procedures” and to “effectively implement strategies and measures to eliminate discrimination”. The San Diego ordinance aims to meet this need.

The CEDAW ordinance establishes a framework to promote gender justice for all residents of San Diegan. It will allow the county to apply a data-driven approach to identify, analyze and remove discriminatory barriers.

We hope this editorial provides clarity and invites community members to do their own reading on the myriad benefits of local CEDAW action.

Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi is the president of the CEDAW committee for the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Mary Hansel is a member of the Advisory Board of Cities for CEDAW.


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