Op-Ed: San Jose Should Allocate Funding for Women’s Bill of Rights

Women and non-binary people in San Jose are at a crossroads and City Manager Dave Sykes may decide our direction for generations.

A bit of recent history: we were thrilled when our city took a major step toward gender equality by introducing the Women’s Bill of Rights, which passed unanimously by San Jose’s City Council on Dec. 19, 2017. The Women’s Bill of Rights could be a vital tool in building a future where women and girls and non-binary people in our city achieve the full protection and enforcement of their human rights—if we fund it.

Back in June, Mayor Sam Liccardo asked the City Manager’ s office to determine if the Women’ s Bill of Rights could be implemented with no additional funding by this December. Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco had asked for $150,000 for an independent, experienced consultant to implement it, which is about 15 percent of what San Francisco spends on a similar bill every year. That’s a good deal for the women, girls, and non-binary people this law aims to support.

The mayor is still awaiting Mr. Sykes’ recommendation, due to be written in November.

Our Women’ s Bill of Rights is special. It is the local implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and requires a gender analysis of city departments, programs and policies.

What does this look like? An independently-run gender analysis is a key good government and gender equality tool, building a baseline of whether San Jose is investing equitably, from homeless shelters and housing access to baseball fields and the budget. San Jose must engage an independent pay equity expert because a proper investigation requires not only technical (statistical expertise) but also extensive experience with pay equity investigations.

An independent investigation is also visibly more transparent and avoids potential conflicts of interest. Employees who wish can freely speak to the investigator knowing that the conversation is confidential, and they are safe from retaliation. There is also no perceived bias in favor of employee or employer with an independent investigator.

A comprehensive gender analysis also involves an assessment of programs that benefit women and non-binary people in the city such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and housing for homeless women and non-binary people.

We’ re not the only Bay Area municipality doing this important work. Here are the facts:

  • Santa Clara County has dedicated one full time employee to manage the county’s gender analysis under their version of the Women’s Bill of Rights.
  • When San Francisco passed its CEDAW in 1998, Supervisors funded one full-time employee plus a consultant budget. Their director says “staffing is essential” to success.
  • San Francisco’s Department on the Status of Women has six full time employees plus one grant-funded full-time employee managing their implementation plus a budget of $7 million, $6 million of which goes straight back into the city as community grants.
  • The gender analysis will track trends and disparities across gender, race, disability and the intersection of gender and race and disability.
  • Without dedicated staffing, city departments may not have the tools, the statistical know-how, or capacity to evaluate how their work already changes the lives of women in our city—and where they can improve.

This brings us back to Sykes’ crossroads and the letter he must write to the mayor.

The first road: he can reiterate the vice mayor’s request for $150,000 for an independent, experienced consultant to complete the gender analysis. He can remind the mayor that back in March, the Human Services Commission, the body tasked with overseeing implementation of the Women’s Bill of Rights, recommended that the City Council allocate $300,000 along with three full-time employees.

The second road: he can ignore the recommendation of the oversight body, dismiss the vice mayor’s request, and claim his department does not need additional resources to comprehensively review how city programs, policies, and departments are investing in women, girls and non-binary people.

As the leaders of the CEDAW Task Force, we strongly encourage him to pick the first road—the road that leads to a San Jose where women, girls, and non-binary people are treated equitable by city policies.

We urge him to request full funding for the Women’s Bill of Rights.

Taraneh Roosta chairs the CEDAW Task Force and Ruth Silver-Taube is a CEDAW Task Force Member and head of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition. Opinions are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected]


  1. I vote “NO FUNDING” for the women’s “Bill of Rights.”
    “Professor” Sykes has already appointed or has not “fired” some of the dumbest women administrators on the planet to positions of responsibility. Have the “Professor” explain the Digester project at the Water Pollution Control Plant for starters and the female administrative morons who caused the problems. Don’t forget the $25K per day “Delay Claim” and the money wasted here and the female incompetents who allowed this screw-up.
    As to the “Non-Binary” folks-Is it polite to suggest you go back into the closet until you get yourselves figured out?
    David S. Wall

    • Yes, it is impolite to suggest that people “go back into the closet”. Nobody has the right to tell someone how they can or should identify. Your vocal lack of acceptance of people’s right to choose their sexual orientation/identity creates the hateful environment that exists today. If you disagree with someone’s choice, why not just do so silently instead of imposing it on others?

      Additionally, and I admittedly don’t know of the project you’re talking about, but you’re conflating incompetency with gender when there’s no such link. Ron Gonzales was incompetent but not because of his being Latino or a man, but because he was corrupt!

  2. > San Jose must engage an independent pay equity expert because a proper investigation requires not only technical (statistical expertise) but also extensive experience with pay equity investigations.

    Those if us living outside of the San Jose irrationality bubble scratch our heads and ask the question:

    “What problem is this solving”?

    If San Jose needs to hire a “pay equity expert”, a rational person might suppose:

    A: there must be some evidence of pay inequity in Mayor Sam Liccardo’s administration; and
    B. if there IS evidence of pay inequity, the geniuses running San Jose don’t know what do do about it.

    Why else would San Jose need to blow $150,000 for an “independent, experienced consultant”?

    The taxpayer’s probably would be just as well off if the city forgot about the consultant and spent a 150 grand on liquor (or marijuana).

  3. This again? Men, not women, need a Bill of Rights.

    Women receive the majority of advanced degrees and are more likely to receive scholarships than are men. Before a man can even apply for a scholarship, a man must register for the draft, and woman does not. Men get in-demand degrees in engineering, while women have the choice and luxury of getting degrees in a possibly more fulfilling interest, perhaps French literature, or the Arts, or such, and many do.

    Statistics show that women and men with equal experience and qualifications, doing the same job, for the same hours, under the same conditions-get paid the same. In fact, a woman who has never been married and has no children, earns slightly more than a man who has never been married and has no children. The former is considered ambitious and independent. The latter is considered unmotivated and unable to commit.

    Why do men sometimes earn more than women? Men work longer hours at more dangerous and disagreeable jobs. They more readily accept night shifts, hardship postings to oil rigs and entrepreneurial risks. Female librarians earn less than garbagemen, not because of discrimination, but because so many applicants compete for the safe, clean, comfortable, convenient, fulfilling jobs women prefer. Men predominantly occupy all of the most hazardous professions, the miners, firefighters, construction workers, loggers, meatpackers, but most particularly soldiers. Women in the military whine about wanting to be placed in combat. That’s exactly the point. Women want the “option” of combat. Men have never had a choice. The more hazardous the job, the more likely it is to be occupied by a man.

    Men are society’s sanctioned prostitutes. Men sell their bodies (to their employers) for money for their family. Consequently, men have higher rates of heart disease, cancer and other stress related illnesses, a higher suicide rate and a shorter life span than women. Instead of giving their money to a pimp however, men hand over their paychecks to a woman. Women control spending in almost every consumer category.

    Stoic, self-sacrificing men are hard-wired to shower beautiful women with free dinners, gifts and home repairs and society has no stigma about women who “”marry up”” into cushy lifestyles paid for by workaholic husbands.

    Women are allowed to discriminate against the opposite sex ruthlessly without social penalty and to make uncorroborated, even outrageous, accusations against a man who is then presumptively guilty, no matter what the rebuttal. Examples abound.

    If women had to promise to provide for a man for a lifetime before he removed his veil and showed her his smile, would we think of this as a system of female privilege?

    In anticipation of the standard, tiresome, Lysistrata, “not gettin’ any” reply, you’re wrong. I’m just fed up with these spoiled, ungrateful, generally unattractive, “vaginistas” who have no alternative but to use feminism to bully politicians to get what they want, because they lack the natural feminine wiles to persuade men to give them what they desire.

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