SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 24, 2023—In May of this year, Santa Clara County became one of a dozen or so local jurisdictions to implement provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, mandating antidiscrimination measures in the county in areas like criminal justice, economic development, education, healthcare, and housing.
Santa Clara University School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic played a pivotal role in writing and shaping the county’s new ordinance. The Clinic helped educate county leaders on proposed language and best practices from other jurisdictions that have adopted a local version of the international treaty, for which the United States is one of only a few countries that has failed to ratify at the national level.
Santa Clara Law students working at IHRC made public comments at several county meetings, interviewed experts, drafted key materials, and participated in multiple meetings with Santa Clara County officials to negotiate the details of the policy and a proposed implementation plan.
Their work was recognized in late August with a commendation from Silicon Valley’s Congressional delegation—Congresspersons Ro Khanna, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, and Jimmy Panetta as well as the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
The awards were presented as part of the CSW’s 50th Anniversary Women’s Equality Day celebration, held at LinkedIn’s headquarters.
“We have been working towards this ordinance for eight years,” said Clinic Director Francisco Rivera. “Now, we look forward to continuing our partnership with the county to develop strong implementation and monitoring mechanisms.”
At the August event, two current Clinic students, 3Ls Isabel Harris and Rochel Go, joined Rivera and Deputy Director Britton Schwartz in receiving the commendations. Schwartz also participated in a fireside chat on “The Power of CEDAW,” moderated by Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, together with CSW Commissioner Lisa Liddle.
“Getting to work with the IHRC on the passing of a CEDAW ordinance in Santa Clara County was an amazing opportunity to learn more about local legislative activity, the incorporation of international human rights principles into local law, and how women in this county are pushing for equity,” said Harris.
“I think what California State Controller Malia Cohen and SCU alumna Danielle Slaton said at the luncheon truly captures our purpose in all of this—that what we all are doing collectively is making a difference and that we must continue shouting from our megaphones to make a difference,” added Go.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance, a related Board Policy, and a detailed implementation plan over two meetings in April and May 2023. It will help guide the county’s work in the following areas: criminal legal system, economic development, education and women’s leadership, gender-based violence, healthcare, housing and homelessness, political and civil engagement, and environmental justice and climate change. This momentous step was the result of a strong collaborative effort between the IHRC, CSW members, and county staff.
“We are really proud that our law students rose to the challenge of the complexities and importance of local governance,” said Schwartz. “This ordinance will impact the lives and well-being of millions of women in the county.”
Previously, the IHRC supported Santa Clara County to adopt a temporary CEDAW ordinance that created a three-year CEDAW Task Force to investigate priority areas for gender equity work in the county. The Clinic also worked with the county’s Office of Women’s Policy to produce a human rights report assessing the discriminatory impacts faced by women and girls experiencing homelessness.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | email@example.com | 408-554-5121
Francisco Rivera Juaristi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Britton Schwartz, email@example.com