Thursday April 28, 2016
Miami-Dade Commissioners Pass United Nations Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
On September 1st, 2015 the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously in support of an ordinance presented by Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, former OWL board Vice-President, to implement the United Nations Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The new ordinance adopts the spirit and underlying principles of the international treaty. CEDAW was adopted by the UN in 1979 but has never been ratified by the United States. Miami Dade is the first county to pass the ordinance and joins other “Cities for CEDAW” nationwide. Originally sponsored solely by Commissioner Levine Cava, the ordinance picked up an additional seven sponsors, over half of the Board.
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava comes to elected office after having served as an advocate for South Florida residents and communities for over 30 years. Through her experiences working with diverse communities in Miami-Dade, the Commissioner understands first-hand the importance of empowering and supporting women. Issues like pay-equity, access to health care and paid family leave are not just “women’s issues”; they are economic development issues that affect families across the geographic and socioeconomic spectrum. This is why Commissioner Levine Cava championed the Miami-Dade County CEDAW initiative: so that the county could have up-to-date, accurate information on women in Miami-Dade and attempt to address any disparities through policies and initiatives.
The legislation is designed to empower the county’s Commission for Women (CFW). The CFW is an advisory board within the Miami-Dade Office of Community Advocacy that reports directly to the Commission Chairperson, the county and the public at large about issues pertaining to the status of women. The CFW will take on preparing the annual CEDAW report and will make recommendations to the Commission and the Office of the Mayor based on the report’s findings.
The reports will focus on three main areas: economic development (which includes pay equity), health and safety (including crimes that disproportionately affect women), and education. It will also ensure that existing county policies on pay equity and gender balance are effective. CEDAW will serve two functions: to inform the Board, the mayor and our communities on the status of women in Miami-Dade, and then use that information to improve our community and help us close the income inequality gap in the county.
“The purpose of the ordinance is to track the status of women and girls comprehensively in Miami-Dade County so that the Commission can make sound public policy based on objective data. By tracking these critical indicators, we will have access to objective, empirical data to better evaluate local public policy, particularly as it relates to pay parity and reducing violence against women.” said Commissioner Levine Cava. “CEDAW will help us better understand the challenges facing women and girls, and bring us one step closer to helping all of our residents thrive and prosper, free of discrimination.”
A major component of the CEDAW initiative was engaging the community around the legislation and women’s issues in the community. Commissioner Levine Cava’s office took on the role of informing and engaging Miami-Dade residents around this initiative and men and women from around the county attended the final commission vote to show their support. The community at large was our most essential strategic partner. Their backing assured us that CEDAW was much needed in our community.
Through CEDAW and other economic development legislation, Commissioner Levine Cava hopes to empower our diverse community so that all Miami-Dade County residents may live up to their fullest potential and have the opportunity to thrive.