In a general meeting on September 11, the Durham County Board of Commissioners voted to adopt a resolution that endorses the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The resolution was approved unanimously by the Durham County Board of Commissioners and Durham is the first county or city in the state of North Carolina to adopt CEDAW.

CEDAW was first introduced and adopted by the United Nations in 1979 as a means to advance the status of women by eliminating child marriage, improving reproductive and maternity care, increasing opportunities for equal education, and working towards reducing violence against women. The US was instrumental in drafting CEDAW, and President Jimmy Carter signed the treaty on July 17, 1980. However, the US has never ratified the treaty which is the most comprehensive and detailed international agreement which seeks the advancement of women. The US is one of only 7 countries that still have not ratified the treaty.

Since the late 1990s the campaign for cities and counties to endorse CEDAW has grown. Cities such as Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, among others, have adopted CEDAW resolutions. Adopting CEDAW provides a framework and mechanisms for local governments to end discrimination against women and promote gender equality within their communities.

The Durham resolution states “although women have made major gains in the struggle for equality in most fields, much more needs to be accomplished to fully eradicate discrimination based on gender and race and to achieve one of the most basic human rights; women generally earn less than men in Durham County, women and girls are victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, and women face inequities in access to comprehensive healthcare.”

Activists from the North Carolina Coalition for CEDAW and Women NC led the campaign for the county of Durham to adopt the resolution. Beth Dehghan, Women NC President, said in a statement that the “passage of this resolution reflects a strong commitment to improving human rights in this community.”

Resources: Feminist Newswire 7/17/14, 11/24/14; Women NC 9/12/17

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