Pittsburgh becomes CEDAW City

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Council approves measure to fight gender bias

Pittsburgh City Council is putting bias against women under a citywide microscope.

With a unanimous vote, council passed legislation Tuesday to create a Gender Equity Commission, discourage gender discrimination across city government and commit Pittsburgh to a treaty against such prejudice.

Work to start implementing the ordinance in 2017 should run about $50,000 — the cost for a part-time executive director, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said. She introduced the legislation, which follows the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW.

“Is anything going to change in a year [or] a year and a half? Probably not. But over time, it will,” said Marcia Bandes, who chairs the Pittsburgh for CEDAW Coalition. She said the legislation gives the city a methodical approach to assess and redress gender discrimination.

About 30 organizations including the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh and the Women’s Law Project backed the effort. The ordinance pledges the city will pursue “the principles underlying” CEDAW, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1979. Countries that ratify CEDAW must condemn all discrimination against women and girls and ensure their equal treatment across the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spectrum, according to the legislation.

The U.S. Senate has not ratified the treaty, but Pittsburgh joins at least two dozen other communities across the country that have adopted CEDAW ordinances or resolutions, according to the Cities for CEDAW campaign.

In particular, Pittsburgh’s plan includes a citywide analysis of gender discrimination, plus guidance to address any disparities found in city departments.

Thirteen gender-equity commissioners are expected to develop a five-year action plan for city departments and to advocate generally for principles such as “access to fair wages and human services,” according to the legislation.

Ms. Rudiak has said the measure “calls out” stark differences in how men and women experience life. Among its functions, the ordinance can help the city develop public policy from analyses of sexual harassment, rape and assault cases, she said during a meeting last week.

“All citizens, male and female, young and old, deserve a life of opportunity and safety and acceptance,” Ms. Rudiak said.

Adam Smeltz: 412-263-2625, asmeltz@post-gazette.com, @asmeltz.

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