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Commission on the Status of Women Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The County’s Commission on the Status of Women, which advocates for gender equality and female empowerment, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an event on Thursday, Aug. 24, in Mountain View

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — The County of Santa Clara Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), an advisory body that works to eliminate gender discrimination and prejudice, will commemorate its 50th anniversary with a celebratory event on Aug. 24 at LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View.

The commission, established by the Board of Supervisors in 1973, was the first of its kind in California. It has helped guide the County’s policymaking ever since and was instrumental in the creation of the Office of Women’s Policy (OWP) 25 years ago. The County is among a handful of local governments in the nation with an office that brings a gender lens to its programs and policies.

Together, the commission and OWP have made significant strides in advancing the interests of women and girls and promoting gender equity.

“Fifty years ago, it was an act of pure radicalism to create a Commission on the Status of Women,” said Supervisor and Board President Susan Ellenberg. “I had the wonderful opportunity to meet commission founder Rena Rosenberg and was struck both by her audacity in that day and by the too-familiar litany of issues she was fighting back then: pay parity, family leave, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, gender-based violence and other all-too-familiar tropes for all women.”

“Women have made significant gains in many arenas, but we must fight for every inch of progress and then hold onto it for dear life,” Ellenberg added. “The overturning of Roe v. Wade taught us that our rights are by no means secure and we need bodies like the Commission on the Status of Women to remain active, vigilant, and to mobilize elected officials, community members and others when necessary. I’m grateful for the role this commission has long played in the progress of our County organization to truly serve all of us.” 

One of the most recent accomplishments of the Commission on the Status of Women was the Board of Supervisors’ approval in April of an ordinance known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which commits the County to examining its internal operations and eliminating any gender-based discrimination.

The commission worked for years to bring the ordinance to fruition in collaboration with the Santa Clara University School of Law and other partners. Santa Clara County became the fourth county in California to approve such an ordinance, which is based on an international human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations in 1979 but never ratified by the United States.

“In addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Commission on the Status of Women,” said CSW President Benaifer Dastoor, “we are thrilled to recognize the historic adoption of a CEDAW ordinance by the Board of Supervisors that will ensure that all County programs and County-funded contracted services provide equitable access to women and girls.”

The Office of Women’s Policy, which is part of the County’s Division of Equity and Social Justice, will lead the implementation of the CEDAW ordinance.

The OWP is a vital part of County operations, working with the Board of Supervisors and County departments to develop initiatives that support women and girls, such as a $1 million program during the COVID-19 pandemic to distribute free period products to people who lost access to these essential items because of work and school closures.

“The County of Santa Clara is a leader when it comes to placing equity at the center of our programs and policies and elevating the needs of historically marginalized individuals,” said Julie Ramirez, Manager of the Division of Equity and Social Justice. “Throughout these 25 years, we’ve shown our commitment to meeting the needs of women and girls, working in partnership with other departments and the Commission on the Status of Women.”

Supervisor Otto Lee joined in recognizing the commission’s extraordinary milestone.

"Marking 50 years of relentless pursuit for gender equality, the Commission on the Status of Women stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us that when women rise, the world rises,” Lee said. “Let us continue to champion the rights and voices of women everywhere and celebrate this historic milestone.”

The title of Thursday’s event is “Standing Up for Women: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Commission on the Status of Women.” It will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Ellenberg will serve as mistress of ceremonies.

For more information about Thursday’s event, email [email protected].

The County of Santa Clara prides itself on being an organization that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and fosters opportunities for women to lead. Women make up more than half of the County’s executive leadership, and roughly two-thirds of County employees identify as female.

To learn more about female leadership in the County of Santa Clara, visit the County’s news page for a story and video produced earlier this year for International Women’s Day.


The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multicultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the United States. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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Media Contact: María Leticia Gómez / Aaron Kinney, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]

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