Thursday, January 18, 2018
By: Francisco (“Fran”) Rivera Juaristi, Santa Clara School of Law
As we prepare for this weekend’s women’s marches, I am happy to report that last month the County of Santa Clara finally adopted a CEDAW ordinance! It took us (the International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University) two and a half years of tenacious advocacy and policy work, negotiations, presentations, research and writing, meetings, and coalition-building to make it happen. We thank the leadership of the County’s Office of Women’s Policy, Commission on the Status of Women, Office of Legal Counsel, the President of the Board of Supervisors, and the community, all of whom worked together to make this happen.
We believe this is an important step in the local recognition and implementation of international human rights law in the U.S., considering that the County of Santa Clara has a population of almost 2 million and is home to Silicon Valley and some of the largest and most influential tech companies in the world.
Now, the County will create a CEDAW Task Force that will review County programs and services and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors with the goal of ensuring that the County applies a gender and human rights lens throughout its operations, particularly in the following six areas: (1) economic development and security, (2) gender-based violence, (3) education and leadership, (4) health care, (5) housing, and (6) criminal justice.
Housing will be the first issue to be addressed by the CEDAW Task Force. The International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University has been working on a report that will support the Task Force’s efforts to addresses homelessness in the County through a gender and human right lens. More on that soon.
There are approximately 24 cities and counties in the U.S. that have adopted CEDAW resolutions or proclamations, and 6 have adopted ordinances - San Francisco, CA (1998), Los Angeles, CA (2003), Berkeley, CA (2012), Honolulu, HI (2015), Miami‐Dade County, FL (2015), and Pittsburgh, PA (2016). The City of San José, which is also within the County of Santa Clara, is next in line to adopt a CEDAW ordinance.
In addition to adopting this ordinance, the County of Santa Clara has demonstrated its leadership as a human rights county by adopting a Women’s Bill of Rights, and was the first county in the nation to establish an Office of LGBTQ Affairs, in addition to establishing an Office of Immigrant Relations, Office of Women’s Policy, Office of Cultural Competency, and an Office of Human Relations. The County has also sued the Trump Administration over Trump’s executive order that aimed to de-fund “sanctuary jurisdictions”, and just this week the County filed a petition for review in federal court challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful repeal of net neutrality protections. Stay tuned for more!