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CITIES JUMP IN WHERE WASHINGTON FEARS TO TREAD

Tired of waiting for the U.S. Senate to ratify an international pact that has been dangling since 1979, the city of San Francisco signed it.

Mired in the real politics of Washington, the Monica Lewinsky affair, it's unlikely the Senate will give the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, more serious consideration this year than it has in the past, so the burghers in the city on the bay agreed to make it a part of their city ordinances.

As San Francisco implements the treaty's provisions, the country may see that CEDAW is not the dangerous document that North Carolina's senior sage, Sen. Jesse Helms, has declared it.

If the Californians can show that CEDAW isn't an international plot to destroy American families and the country's value system, whatever that is these days, perhaps the treaty will get a friendlier response from others in the United States. Already, Ms. magazine reports, there is interest in similar ordinances in Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles.

The action in the West will not change the fact that the United States remains the only industrialized country to dodge the treaty, which has been ratified by 160 nations. While it would put additional moral pressure on policy-makers to equalize wages and opportunities, women's rights in this country do not hang on the fortunes of this document.

It would, at best, be a symbolic victory if the government of a country that has rejected an Equal Rights Amendment to its Constitution could at least agree with the rest of the international community that there should be some legal recognition of women's rights.

Meanwhile, women in San Francisco hope the new ordinance will bolster their efforts for more services, increased athletic programs for women, some extra street lighting and a few positions on municipal boards.

Sen. Helms, beware! The radicals have been unleashed.

YWCA of Western New York will have its annual Meet the Candidates Night at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Downtown YWCA. The League of Women Voters is a co-sponsor.

The YW will repeat the popular Institute for Public Leadership for the fifth time in April. Of the 263 women who participated in the training sessions begun in 1991, 26 ran for office and won. They include Family Judge Sharon Townsend, Erie County Legislator Crystal Peoples and Orchard Park Supervisor Toni Marinaccio Cudney. Others have become successful campaigners. The sessions April 17 and 18 will provide training for candidates and those who would like to campaign for them. To register, call Susan Clements at 852-6120.

Planned Parenthood of Buffalo and Erie county, historically a women's reproductive health care provider, is opening its doors to men. Services that will be offered include testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, testicular cancer screenings and physical examinations for work and school. Lynn Mendola, patient services coordinator, said the agency is trying to meet the health needs of both partners in a sexual relationship.

Child Care Coalition of the Niagara Frontier is soliciting nominees for its annual awards. The Dorothy B. Millard Award goes to someone who is either in the child care field or is an advocate for quality child care. A corporate award honors a company that has responded to employees' child care needs. The awards cover Erie County only. Call 877-6666, Ext. 3015.

The U.S. Department of Labor is recruiting artists who also are armed forces veterans to design poster art. The National Women Veterans Original Art Design Search is part of the department's program to inform women veterans of their employment benefits and the fact that they get preference in hiring in government agencies and in some private-sector companies. The poster theme is "Hire a Vet: A Model of Success." Women are about 5 percent, or 1.2 million, of the country's 23.8 million veterans. Call (800) 379-9042 or check out www.dol.gov/dol/wb

Everywoman Opportunity Center is offering a free 40-hour course on job readiness skills, including resume writing, interviewing and basic computer instruction. Classes will meet from Oct. 19 to Nov. 20 and are open to women who are divorced, separated, widowed or a single parent. Call 837-2260.

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