“We know we can, and must, do more to advance gender equity,
particularly women’s economic empowerment.”

MAYOR EDWIN LEE, 1952 – 2017

All of us who knew San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and his work are profoundly saddened by his untimely passing at age 65 early yesterday. For decades, Mayor Lee was a steadfast champion for women’s equality, gender justice, and civil rights. In 2017, he won one of the first Guys Who Get It Awards, an honor bestowed by our own Institute for Women’s Leadership.

Mayor Edwin Lee

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Mayor Lee was known for spearheading and co-hosting the first Bay Area Women’s Summit to encourage public and private sector organizations to make firm COMMITMENTS to improve opportunities for women. At the summit Mayor Lee pledged to:

  • Increase subsidized child care for low-income families
  • Implement online implicit bias training and sexual harassment training for city and county employees, and require in-person implicit bias training for all San Francisco Police Department staff.
  • Continue to prioritize funding for the prevention and intervention of violence against women and invest $11.8 million to provide 31,000 additional hours of support services annually to women survivors of violence.

Mayor Lee was passionate about supporting the advancement of women in the city and in county government. In fact, as of 2017, 58% of San Francisco’s government workforce was female, and women held many top offices, such as City Administrator, Fire Chief, Port Director, directors of the Department of Emergency Management, Department of the Environment, Department of Human Resources, and many more.

Mayor Lee also supported and helped shepherd paid parental leave practices, and increased minimum wage and support for female entrepreneurs. He worked in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of California and the Women’s Initiative in its mission to further the advancement and impact of women’s leadership.

“His commitment to ensuring paid family leave for all City employees and investments in high quality, affordable child care can mean only one thing – Mayor Lee was a feminist,” said Surina Khan, CEO, the Women’s Foundation of California.

I want to close this post with my personal tribute: “What moved me most about Mayor Lee was his uncompromising commitment to Gender Equality and Gender Partnership long before it was a popular stand to take. He was and always will be an exemplar of what is possible when governments role-model the full partnership of men and women.  We will so miss your leadership, dear friend!”