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Cincinnati Gender Equity Efforts Highlighted In UN Panel Discussion

Susan Noonan (top row, second from left) participated in a panel for the United Nations NGO Commission on the Status of Women.

Cincinnati is one of five U.S. cities featured on a United Nations panel about preventing discrimination against women Thursday. The city is one of just a handful that have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, known as CEDAW.

"It's so funny because we're well known around the country, but nobody in Cincinnati has a clue," said Susan Noonan, co-chair of the Mayor's Gender Equality Taskforce.

CEDAW is an international treaty from the United Nations first introduced in 1979 — and the United States is one of just six countries in the world that hasn't ratified it. So, cities started taking it on themselves.

"The purpose of this panel is to try to encourage other people that will be listening, look, this is something you can do, and this is how we did it," Noonan said. "We're further along than almost every other city as far as our ordinances passed, our gender analysis finished, and some achievements from that gender analysis have already happened."

Since ratifying the treaty in 2017, the city passed an ordinance to prohibit salary history questions in hiring, purchased uniforms designed for women in the fire department, and funded a program to assist domestic violence victims.

Noonan says 25,000 people signed up for the UN panel, which is the maximum number of participants for the webinar.  

"It's been really tough to have to just stop everything," Noonan said. "We really had momentum going at the end and then COVID hit."

The task force presented its recommendations to City Council in April 2020 – right at the start of the pandemic. They planned to bring it up again in the fall, but another COVID surge and two indictments of council members kept the city's focus elsewhere.

Noonan says they're gearing up to push for equity changes again, focusing on recommendations that haven't been fully implemented. That includes creating a permanent gender equity department and commission, and expanding implicit bias training for all city employees. 

See all recommendations from the task force below:

City of Cincinnati Gender Equality Study by WVXU News on Scribd

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.