Los Angeles Moves Forward With New CEDAW Initiatives

During a press conference on March 31, 2015, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the enactment of a major Gender Study and Plan for implementation of the L.A. CEDAW ordinance. The five-part study will be developed via partnership with the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women and researched by Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles.  As the Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN) noted in reporting on this new study, the purpose of this research is to assess and to benchmark goals toward gender equality on two levels: for women who work in the City government and for women and girls who reside in Los Angeles.

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Mayor Garcetti’s press conference. Source: Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN)

            According to the Report’s introduction, “[t]his Report on the Status of Women and Girls in Los Angeles is a compilation of current research focusing on the issues and trends affecting the women and girls who call Los Angeles home. Its aim is to provide information and to serve as a touchstone for more in-depth evaluations of gender equality throughout Los Angeles that can lead to committed action by the City and its officials, as well as by those working in the nonprofit sector. … It will examine gender equity in these key areas: Demographics; Leadership; Education and Workforce Development; Public Safety; and L.A.’s Veterans.”

Parts 1 and 2 of the Report are already available online, at http://www.lamayor.org/statusofwomen.

Part 1 of the Report, Demographics, outlines the general demographics of Los Angeles in order to emphasize the diversity of the city and to provide context for the issues affecting the quality of life for women and girls residing there. As the introduction notes, Los Angeles is the second-largest city by population in the United States, and it accounts for 10 percent of all residents in California. Part 1 includes: a population overview; race and ethnicity summaries; levels of educational attainment; economic wellbeing and poverty levels; homelessness; and families. Some of the summary statistics are troubling; for example, that thirty percent of all L.A. females under the age of 18 live in poverty, and that women earn less than men across every occupational cluster, especially in the fields of computer, engineering, and science occupations.

Part 2, Leadership, evaluates the leadership roles currently held by Los Angeles women in the worlds of government and business, and highlights the main areas where gender equity remains uneven. Part 2 describes: elected officials; neighborhood councils; appointed commissions; department heads; city government workers; earnings of women in city government; privately owned corporations; and non-profits. These statistics are equally troubling: that of all 18 elected officials in Los Angeles — mayor, city controller, city attorney and city councilmembers — only one is a woman, and that women working in the City government earn $0.83 to every $1.00 earned by men.

Commenting on this initiative, Mayor Garcetti stated:

           “Our city only succeeds if everyone has an equal shot at success. For too long, our women and girls have been left behind and counted out, and I want Los Angeles to lead in employing and empowering women. This first-of-its-kind report provides us with important information that will help us develop a plan of attack to address gender inequality and the issues impacting women in our city.”

Los Angeles is one of the largest and most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. By adopting a city CEDAW ordinance, L.A. has already taken an important step toward addressing gender inequity in the city. However, through this new Gender Study, L.A. has taken a clearer step toward implementing its ordinance, and has provided a strong model for other large U.S. cities, such as Philadelphia, Houston or Chicago, to enact similar measures.

** For another example of the work that the L.A. city council does in implementing CEDAW, see City council reports adopted and published on lacity.org website, such as the report available here: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2000/00-0398_ca_11-1-05.pdf.

** Mount St. Mary’s released its own state-wide research report on March 19, 2015, The Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California, available here: http://www.msnc.la.edu/uploadedFiles/Content/Status_of_Women_and_Girls/RSWG%202015%20final.pdf.

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