STRATEGIC PLAN OF ACTION OF THE
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF WOMEN (CIM)
Presented at the Fourth World
Conference on Women
Beijing, China - September, 1995
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Resolution adopted at
the fifth plenary session,
held on November 11, 1994
WHEREAS the Fourth World Conference on Women will be held
in 1995 in Beijing, China;
The Plan of Action of the Inter-American Commission of
Women (CIM), "Full and Equal Participation by the Year 2,000", adopted by the
Twenty-Third Assembly of CIM Delegates in 1986 by resolution CIM/RES. 103/86 (XXIII-O/86);
The Inter-American Meeting to Evaluate the CIM Plan of
Action, convoked to assess the advancement achieved by women since 1985 and to propose new
strategies for the full and equal participation of women; and
HAVING SEEN document CIM/doc.32/94, Conclusions and
Recommendations of the Inter-American Meeting of Evaluation of the CIM Plan of Action;
"Full and Equal Participation of Women by the Year 2000" and the results of the
detailed analysis conducted by Committee II,
THE TWENTY-SEVENTH ASSEMBLY OF DELEGATES OF THE
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF WOMEN
- To adopt the Strategic Plan of Action of the
Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) which is attached to this resolution.
- To present this plan of action to the Fourth World
Conference on Women and to make it available as well to national and international fora
convened to discuss matters related to promoting the advancement of women.
- The main thrust of action begun in the Decade of Women was
to enlist more active and decisive participation of women of the member states of the
Organization of American States (OAS) in the national development processes of their
countries, both as agents of change and as beneficiaries of progress.
- Over the last decade, major changes have occurred in the
international arena, including a growing globalization and economic interdependence, basic
technological innovations in all fields, particularly in communications, shifts in the
world power structure, a growing and increasingly accentuated concern for the environment,
and progress in improving the status of women, both in the individual countries and in the
international community as a whole. These elements, together with new ways of relating
between the genders, make up a changed scenario, which must be considered in developing
- The set of objectives and strategies set forth in the Plan
of Action is in line with a concept of sustainable and comprehensive development that
incorporates political, social, cultural, and economic dimensions, is centered on people,
embodies gender equity, takes into account the recommendations of Agenda 21, adopted in
1992 by the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and guarantees a decent
quality of life for present as well as future generations.
- The Plan of Action is designed to improve the quality of
life of women, based on the awareness that this will impact on society as a whole.
Moreover, special attention has been given to taking into account the enormous diversity
of the status of women in the region, including rural and urban considerations, cultural
and ethnic pluralism, women in the various age groups, and marginal groups.
- The Plan of Action is constructed from the advances and
difficulties identified during the last decade, the results and recommendations of the
national reports of the member states, and the results of the Inter-American Meeting to
Evaluate the CIM Plan of Action, which was adopted in 1986.
- In preparation for the Fourth United Nations World
Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), the United Nations recommended that the national
reports follow a single detailed format for each of the subjects under consideration. This
would ensure a standard presentation for an overall and comparative analysis of data, as
well as the identification of critical areas for attention and immediate strategies and
actions for the future. In order to contribute to a more coordinated regional position,
the Inter-American Commission of Women decided that these reports would be used for its
own review process. It also agreed to provide additional funding for their preparation.
The national reports received from the countries of the region were, in most cases,
prepared under the direction of a national commission with the active participation of the
respective CIM principal delegate. In many cases, significant efforts had to be made to
gather gender-disaggregated data from various sources.
- Guidance for preparation of the national and regional
reports was provided by: the CIM-sponsored inter-American consultations; the results of
the subregional meeting of the countries of the Caribbean, sponsored by CARICOM and the
United Nations; the Regional Forum on Women in the Americas: Participation and
Development, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in Guadalajara; the
Sixth Regional Conference on the Incorporation of Women into the Economic and Social
Development of Latin America and the Caribbean; the European Economic Commission's
High-Level Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth World Conference on Women, which
included the participation of Canada and the United States of America; the Forward-looking
Strategies approved by the Third World Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (July 1985); and
networks of government agencies.
- This Plan of Action will therefore focus on the
participation and contribution of the women of the OAS member states to the political,
legal, social and economic processes of their countries, on the present status of their
involvement, and the actions that will be essential to securing and strengthening their
role to the year 2000. The Plan of Action is structured along the following areas:
- Participation of women in the structures of power and
- Legal and institutional framework
- Elimination of violence
- Eradication of poverty
- National machinery responsible for the advancement of
- Regional cooperation
- Migration and women in areas of conflict
- Although the basic importance of each topic addressed in
this Plan of Action is recognized, the CIM assigned priority for the next five years to
the participation of women in the structures of power and decision-making education, the
elimination of violence, and the eradication of poverty.
- In addition, it identifies as operating objectives for
this period strengthening the national governmental institutions and/or structures
responsible for promoting, coordinating, and executing programs and policies on women and
the development of horizontal cooperation in the region.
- The final objective of achieving sustainable development
with gender equity cannot be attained until gender relations and the entire system of
sociocultural patterns that casts women in a subordinate exclusionary role, inconsistent
with their ability to take part in modern society under equal conditions, has changed. In
this sense, the proposed Plan of Action is directed to contributing decisively to the
achievement of those changes.
- Governments and organizations of the inter-American
system, including the specialized agencies, are urged to give this Plan of Action their
full support and to work toward its implementation. They are also urged to ensure that the
Plan of Action be disseminated widely, particularly to relevant institutions and women's
WOMEN IN THE STRUCTURES
OF POWER AND DECISION-MAKING
The integration of women into the full range of the
decision-making process, including the highest levels of power in the state, is the only
means to attain full participation in the development process, their status of equality
vis-à-vis society, and their contribution to social peace and the enjoyment of that
state. The right to elect and to be elected to office by participating in the electoral
process and in its direct and indirect results is the very essence of the rights of
citizenship and is both the basis for, and the culmination of, all other social rights and
The full recognition of the rights of women as
citizens has failed to achieve their incorporation into national political life on an
equal footing with men. Despite women's active participation in political parties and
electoral groups and processes, and notwithstanding some progress made in the Decade of
Women as to their participation in the various areas
of public life, prejudices and customs persist that limit their participation in public
life to those that society arbitrarily has identified as being "appropriate" for
them as women.
- Universal suffrage, under equal conditions for both sexes,
was set forth in the constitutions and legislative instruments of the countries of the
Americas in most instances, excepting a few that already had recognized these fundamental
rights earlier, in the period between the end of the 1940s and the early 1960s.
- Women traditionally have participated in diverse civil
movements and the number of organizations in civil society that promote the interests of
women has increased markedly in the past decade. Despite the trend observed in much of the
region toward greater participation of women in parties and trade unions, and, on
occasion, in organizing and operating working women's unions, they continue to join
political parties and trade union associations in distinctly varying degrees, depending
upon the countries concerned. Common traits may be identified in regard to that
membership, the most salient of these being the persistent dearth of women in political
and trade union leadership positions.
- Another important feature common to most countries is the
continued existence of women's wings, branches, or committees, through which many women
join organized political life. Many women view these as one of today's effective
mechanisms to advance their participation and to influence party decision-making.
- As a result of only partial assimilation into political
parties, there have been very few women candidates for elective positions throughout the
Americas, in both absolute and relative terms. On the other hand, the female electorate,
as large as the male electorate, usually participates heavily in electoral processes,
although, in some countries, voter turnout among rural women continues to be very low.
- According to worldwide statistics of the
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in the entire region of the Americas, women hold
approximately 12% of the elected seats on national legislatures while the worldwide
average is only 11%. On the other hand, the election of women to legislative or executive
offices at the provincial and local levels is more frequent and their numbers appear to be
increasing. In general, women find it difficult to access funding for electoral campaigns,
although some countries have witnessed the emergence of special interest groups dedicated
to attracting funding for women candidates.
- In some countries, women have begun to organize around
issues of specific interest to women and to challenge parties to be responsive to their
concerns. In practice, the role of women, in general, consists of supporting programs and
persons in political parties that do not always represent their interests.
- Women, who, in the past, more frequently held cabinet
positions in ministries of the social sector, such as education, health, labor, housing,
and social welfare, have begun to hold key cabinet posts and senior positions, such as
heads of the ministries of foreign affairs, interior, justice, defense, public works, and
economy, central banks, agrarian reform administrations, and statutory boards.
Nevertheless, women still hold far fewer of these positions than men.
- In the judicial branch, women, who have in significant
numbers turned to the study of law, have a relatively high and growing representation at
the local judiciary level, although, again, most judges are men. The number of women on
courts that have broader jurisdiction is lower, and, still, only a few women sit on
supreme courts or courts of equivalent rank.
- It should be noted that, in the last two decades,
governments have shown a greater inclination to address gender issues. Efforts have been
undertaken to strengthen national machinery for the advancement of women so as to affect
policy and planning decisions. Gender concerns have begun to be included in various
national development plans.
- Some member states have begun to put in place transitory
or temporary measures and regulations to remedy long-standing situations of discrimination
and thereby provide opportunities for women to participate in the decision-making process.
These measures include setting targets for a certain proportion of women standing for
election and at specific levels of government administration.
- Some member states have adopted measures aimed at
eliminating discrimination and sexual harassment in other arenas, such as in the
workplace, in schools, and in the health sector.
- Institutional and social structures continue to impede
women's access to positions of power in all areas. Cultural stereotypes continue to
influence the assignment of gender-specific roles to both women and men.
- Although some member states have begun to adopt national
plans to provide equal opportunities, government plans and social policies, for the most
part, are not formulated from a gender standpoint that would promote true incorporation of
To achieve the full and effective participation of women in all power and decision-making
- To attain the full incorporation of women into political
life under conditions of equality, action must be taken at the institutional, cultural,
and educational levels to overcome the sociocultural obstacles that impede or limit their
participation, such as:
- Conducting studies to pinpoint the barriers that impede or
limit women's participation in politics;
- carrying out campaigns through the media to eliminate
stereotypical images of men and women by publicizing the diversity of the roles of women
in our societies and their true contribution to development;
- using the educational system to promote the elimination of
stereotypical images of women and to provide training for women in fields that facilitate
their access to political life;
- promoting increased participation by women in
decision-making processes through: support for women's and civil society organizations
that represent women's interests; and promotion of participation by women's civil
organizations in all stages of the political process;
- achieving equality of opportunities for women and men in
trade unions of the formal sector and associative enterprises in the informal sector; and
- establishing programs and mechanisms to expand equality of
opportunities for women and men and to promote the attainment of equity, by designing
policies that incorporate a gender perspective.
- Transitory measures: the CIM should encourage actively the
establishment of mechanisms that enable women to play a more active role in the leadership
of political parties and social organizations, such as:
- amendment of, or regulations for existing laws to achieve
equal participation of women and men at all levels of government, and the setting of
participation goals or establishment of other mechanisms that the member states consider
- reform of electoral codes, party bylaws, and the
structures of social organizations to achieve access by women to elective office, by
establishing either minimum percentages or other mechanisms that the member states might
- Existing institutions should be used to promote causes of
interest to women and to encourage their participation in the management of private and
public activities. To that end, it would be advisable to work with women's groups and
organizations, government agencies, political parties, and trade union organizations, to
give priority to women's membership in political parties and unions, and to facilitate
their access to leadership positions in both cases.
- The CIM should urge the member states to increase the
monitoring, evaluation, and adoption of mechanisms for the inclusion of gender equality in
the policies implemented by the various public entities so that their effects will be
lasting and sustainable.
- The CIM should coordinate with the member states special
efforts to see that both women and men receive training in disciplines associated with the
exercise of politics. This would include political management, negotiation skills,
strategic planning, leadership techniques, gender training, civics instruction, public
speaking, and education in politics and trade unionism.
- To establish training programs for rural women in various
fields, such as organizational methodologies, participatory techniques, self-esteem, civil
rights, and participation in decision-making, that will ensure the creation of conditions
for achieving equality.
- Special programs and efforts must be conducted to identify
potential leaders among young women and to promote training in political skills.
- To urge the member states to promote access by women to
senior-level policy and decision-making positions in the international arena.
- The CIM should promote the financing of studies and
seminars for social and political leaders to make them more sensitive to the issues
relating to the participation of women and to incorporate them as active advocates for
change, and should promote the development of programs for consciousness-raising and
gender-sensitivity training for government officials, both women and men, drawn from
strategic areas of decision-making.
Women's rights are human rights.
(Convention of Belém do Pará)
- From the time the CIM plan of action was developed in 1986
to date, legislation in the countries has continued to show progress for women in various
areas, and many countries have enacted laws that protect women who have been subjected to
family or domestic violence. Countries that recently have amended their constitutions
have, in some cases, incorporated in them specific recognition of the rights of women and
- Legal provisions that discriminate against women, mainly
in civil, labor, criminal and commercial law, still persist, as do traditional concepts of
the role of women that underlie those national laws or court decisions that stand in the
way of the full and effective equality of women under the law, including, for example,
access to loans, land ownership, or jobs for women.
- The progressive development of international standards of
conduct to improve the legal status of women is reflected in the introduction of
innovative legislation in the countries of the region, including the emergence of the Ombudsman
in special offices for the protection of citizens, human rights, women, the indigenous
population, ethnic minorities, the disabled, and consumers.
- The process of ratification of the United Nations
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has been almost
completed in the region and very few reservations to it have been recorded. Moreover,
other countries recently have moved to ratify United Nations human rights covenants that
contain specific provisions relating to women. Progress continues in the region toward
universal ratification of the Pact of San José.
- With this recognition by the international community of
women's rights as an integral part of human rights, the CIM is committed to pursuing its
promotion of progress toward full legal equality for women. At the United Nations World
Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in June 1993, a provision was adopted on
"the equal status and human rights of women," as an important element of the
Vienna Declaration and program of action. In addition, the program of action of the United
Nations International Conference on Population and Development, adopted in September 1994
in Cairo, reaffirms this achievement in its principle 4, which states: "The human
rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of
universal human rights."
- The Inter-American Commission of Women also has made its
contribution at the international level by promoting and obtaining approval of the first
treaty instrument to address specifically violence against women: the Inter-American
Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women,
"Convention of Belém do Pará." The process of signing and ratification of this
Convention is well under way in the region (1) and is receiving much support
from civil society organizations.
- To eliminate all remaining legal provisions that
discriminate against women from the legislation of the countries of the region.
- To adjust legal systems in the OAS member states to the
international covenants, treaties, agreements, and declarations they have adopted and
ratified concerning equality and nondiscrimination against women, and introduce measures
that guarantee their effective enforcement.
- To promote, where appropriate, constitutional amendments
that will provide for full and effective equality of women and men.
- To promote, where appropriate, changes in legislation to
adapt the laws to changes in the constitutions and to eliminate any vestiges of legal
discrimination against women.
- To promote community participation in the process of
preparing and adopting national legislation, particularly laws relating to the family and
violence against women.
- To promote the creation and expansion of legal mechanisms
and procedures to ensure effective enforcement of the laws.
- To promote protection of the rights of women and the
family and, where appropriate, urge governments to legislate, if they have not done so
already, the protection of the principle of family property and/or assets (patrimonio
familiar) or other mechanisms designed to guarantee the rights of women and their
children, particularly when couples separate.
- To promote greater access by women to the judicial system
through the expansion and improvement of judicial services.
- To promote the creation of specialized services to address
family problems in a comprehensive manner. Family courts, where they exist, must be
dynamic and accessible to all, and, to that end, procedures should be streamlined and
counseling services provided that will ensure effective access to the judicial system.
- To develop and implement training and awareness programs
on the rights of women and the impact that their decisions might have on them for judges,
attorneys, and others responsible for the administration of justice.
- To promote increased information, improved communications,
and wide dissemination of laws on women and their rights in order to ensure that the
rights of women are at the forefront of an agenda for action and that women and the public
at large are fully aware of those rights.
- To disseminate, in easily comprehensible language, the
content of laws on women and the family, including, where appropriate, the translation of
these laws into the first language of ethnic groups.
(1) As of November 11, 1994, 14 countries had
signed the Convention of Belém do Pará and on October 11, 1994, the Congress of Bolivia
voted unanimously for its ratification.
- In keeping with their increasing share in the work force,
women's employment has increased both in absolute terms and in terms of their proportion
of the economically active population. Nonetheless, women's work continues to be centered
on activities in the service sector and on routine tasks in the industrial area. Despite
increased training, women still hold only a small fraction of the highest executive
positions. Available statistics show that women are subject to dual salary discrimination.
On the one hand, the rate of pay for women workers in various segments of the economy is
below that for men; on the other, women with an education equivalent to that of male
counterparts earn less. In most countries, the corresponding data also indicate that women
have a higher unemployment rate than men, indicating that they find it more difficult than
do men to find paid work and that they are more vulnerable to layoffs.
- In many parts of the region, particularly in the poorer
areas, women generally find jobs in small-scale enterprises, the rural and urban informal
sectors, home-based units, or domestic service, many of which are generally exempt or
hidden from the employment and labor legislation of a country. Alternatively, women in
search of a livelihood become self-employed, selling products such as fruit, vegetables,
or their own services. In plantation and agricultural work, work done by women is not
recognized and in many cases not regulated by law; their dual role as wage earners and
homemakers leaves them with little opportunity to bargain for better conditions through
workers' organizations. It is difficult for them to organize collectively, since their
workplaces tend to be widely scattered.
- Most of the countries of the region have adopted
legislative measures to ensure equal pay for equal work and, in general, have ratified
international agreements embodying that principle, although enforcement, in practice, is
neither monitored nor required. It is necessary to strengthen enforcement practices and
procedures. Similarly, national laws guarantee equal access to jobs, irrespective of
gender. However, there are still provisions in labor legislation that are clearly
discriminatory in areas relating to wages, conditions of work, social security coverage,
etc. Under the guise of protection, women are frequently denied access to night shift work
or "dangerous" or "unhealthy" jobs.
- In most cases, unpaid work and domestic work are still not
reflected in national accounts.
- Labor statistics often exclude rural women from the
workforce and the job market and render them invisible, even though their contribution to
rural output is considerable.
- One of the fundamental factors determining the ability of
women to become self-employed through business activity is access to credit. Women still
encounter serious difficulties in accessing credit and financing.
- Childcare and family responsibilities are still considered
predominantly an obligation of women, and this limits their access to paid employment.
Only very limited day care or other services that facilitate childcare are available in
the region, and these are usually not seen as a responsibility of society nor are there
adequate regulations governing part-time work, which would enable women and men to share
family responsibilities without detriment to their job benefits.
- Various groups of women are still at a disadvantage in
terms of working conditions, social security, and other services and laws offering
protection. Such groups include domestic workers, rural women, and immigrants, who are
often forced to accept jobs that are invisible to government and trade unions, leaving
them unprotected and vulnerable.
- In many cases the gravity and magnitude of the problem of
sexual harassment in the workplace is not known and legal instruments to punish it
properly do not exist.
- New types of industries and business enterprises
consistent with a global economy generally have adverse effects on the workforce, and
women in particular, in terms of its ability to organize and form trade unions and, hence,
to protect its rights.
- Some countries have expressed serious concern about
determining what impact subregional trade agreements such as the Caribbean Basin
Initiative (CBI), MERCOSUR, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may have
on the employment status of women.
- To provide equal job opportunities and pay for both women
and men in the various economic sectors.
- To promote equal treatment for working women and men, and
to democratize the sharing of work and family responsibilities.
Economic policies and planning
- The CIM should promote reformulation of employment
policies to incorporate the gender perspective and draw attention to a wider range of
opportunities, as well as to address any negative gender implications of current patterns
of work and employment. Changes in employment policies need:
- To ensure that all macro and micro economic policies are
subjected to a gender impact analysis and that results of such analyses are recognized and
- To attach high priority to the formulation of economic
policies that have a positive impact on the employment of working women;
- To broaden the range of employment opportunities for
women, including support for entrepreneurial activities and nontraditional occupations,
giving special attention to rural women, the disabled, and minority women;
- To encourage and assist the creation of more jobs in all
sectors without gender segregation, and placing appropriate and equitable value on such
- To reconsider the threefold division of the life cycle,
i.e., education, work, and retirement, taking into account the interrelationships among
them as well as the domestic, parental, elder care, and family responsibilities of workers
of both sexes; and
- To integrate fully the principle of nondiscrimination
between women and men in their access to and utilization of social security.
Education and training
- More importance should be given to the planning of human
resources so that education and job training will be in keeping with job requirements in
the economic system.
- Occupational training for women also should include
training and technical assistance to enable them to become self-employed, such as through
programs that provide appropriate technology for rural women, programs in handicrafts,
etc. It should include as well training in management techniques, in new technologies, and
in other fields, to prepare them to be more successful business managers. Similarly,
projects to familiarize women with labor laws should be instituted to train them to be
more cognizant of their rights and better equipped to defend them.
- The new development model of open markets calls for a
skilled labor force. It is therefore necessary to use various approaches to training
low-income adult women, offering enhanced training and development alternatives that allow
them to participate in better-paid productive activities, and allocating more resources to
formal and informal education, including literacy programs.
- It is necessary to promote legislation to recognize family
responsibilities as a shared obligation for both parents. In this context, it would be
especially important to enact laws to regulate part-time work for women and men, so they
may take up their family responsibilities without regard to gender. It is likewise
important to extend the coverage of social security benefits and other laws to the rural
population and to paid domestic service workers, where applicable. Moreover, the process
of adopting and acceding to international conventions that prohibit discrimination by
reason of gender should be completed in the region. In both instances, it is essential to
strengthen the means to monitor and enforce the law by creating clear and effective
- The CIM should urge governments to take all necessary
measures, including adopting legislation to prohibit gender discrimination in the
workplace, particularly as regards the hiring, training, and promoting of employees, the
terms and benefits of employment, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and
dismissals. Special measures must be implemented to deal with the many forms of
discrimination faced by women of ethnic or racial minorities, or by disabled, indigenous,
rural, and migrant women.
- To promote and strengthen employment agencies so that they
will set up special programs to ensure equal access for women to the job market.
- To adopt special measures to increase professional
opportunities for young women, in terms of both training and fostering nontraditional jobs
- To support the formation and strengthening of
organizations of women workers and professionals and provide advice that will promote
their membership in labor unions and professional organizations on an equal basis, as a
means for them to effectively defend their rights as workers.
- To increase and promote women's access to the means and
factors of production. To that end, credit, housing, technical assistance, and training
programs should be instituted in various sectors of the economy, and strategies and
policies for the creation of jobs for women must be promoted.
- To support low-income women through special job-creation
and income-generating programs that seek to incorporate them fully into the development
process and raise their standard of living.
Access to credit
- To create and develop credit instruments specifically
geared toward the needs of women, such as revolving funds to finance women's business
activities, and to put in place different mechanisms to facilitate access to credit for
- The CIM should promote horizontal technical cooperation
activities through bilateral or multilateral agreements to facilitate the exchange of
information about, and the replication of, experiences designed to increase women's income
and generate employment for them.
Statistics, information, and analysis
- To promote inclusion of statistical data on employment,
underemployment, and unemployment by gender in national statistics systems.
- To conduct studies and create and develop indicators to
measure unpaid work done by women.
- To take steps to end discrimination against women in terms
of access to jobs, and to ensure equal working conditions for women and men, especially
with regard to age, marital status, health, pay, and safety.
- To establish measures to prevent women's reproductive
functions from being used to justify discrimination, and to adopt effective measures to
guarantee pregnant women and nursing mothers the right to maternity leave and benefits.
- To encourage governments, employers, and trade unions,
among others, to take measures to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment and racial
discrimination, or any form of violence in the workplace, and to raise public awareness
and adopt further legislation and enforcement measures as needed.
- To recognize reproductive care as a responsibility of
society, and to improve and increase the number of available day care facilities to enable
working mothers and fathers to care for their children and the elderly.
Regional and subregional trade arrangements
- To foster studies to determine the impact of regional and
subregional trade agreements on the characteristics and status of women.
- The CIM should seek effective cooperation with the
International Labor Organization (ILO) and other relevant intergovernmental agencies to
develop effective strategies for organizing women in the unorganized sector, ensure
compliance with international standards, and improve working conditions for women.
Access to quality gender-sensitive education is
essential for guaranteeing women full exercise of their social rights to enable them to
adequately participate in political activities, enter and remain in the labor market under
acceptable conditions, and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by development, as
well as improving the quality of life and the environment.
- The opportunity to take part in formal education and to
remain within the system is afforded in all the countries of the Hemisphere on an equal
basis for both women and men.
- Available statistical data indicate that in the last three
decades a high number of girls have enrolled in formal primary schools. For 1990,
according to information provided by the United Nations in the publication The World's
Women 1970-1990: Trends and Statistics, the enrollment of girls has caught up with
that of boys.
- In terms of young women's access to secondary and
university education, there has been a significant increase in all countries of the
region, which indicates that access to primary education for girls has translated into
access to higher education for women. This has increased their participation in careers
considered to be nontraditional for women and also has produced a gradual change in the
role of women in society.
- Programs to extend literacy and eradicate illiteracy and
functional literacy have been one of the priority aims of government social action plans
in the region. Although there has been considerable success in some of the countries,
illiteracy among women continues to be a serious problem in others, particularly in rural
and impoverished urban areas. Access to secondary education is more restricted in rural
zones than in urban areas.
- Women have particularly benefited from nonformal education
programs designed with the well-being of the general population in mind, especially
distance education programs, which reach women even when they are engaged in housework.
- The enrollment of women in vocational schools and
technical and job training programs has risen, and women are making marginal gains in
access to careers and jobs that are better paid.
- Only a few countries have undertaken to review curricula,
teaching practices, and educational texts to eliminate sexist stereotypes. This is an area
that must receive priority attention if there is to be gender equality between women and
- Sex education is still not widely taught in the region,
although it has been included in curricula at the various formal education levels in a
significant number of cases, and in nonformal education methodologies as well. Sex
education has been imparted by the state, private agencies, and/or nongovernmental
- Women are predominant in the teaching profession, and, in
many countries, are significantly represented in mid-level administration. Their numbers
are notably lower at the higher levels and in educational policy-making posts.
- To bring about changes in education, consistent with
requirements for sustainable human development, in order to promote gender equity and the
forging of egalitarian relations and solidarity between women and men.
- To promote throughout the Hemisphere an understanding of
education as an essential tool for changing attitudes, which will facilitate addressing
the complex reality of the modern world, strengthening the preservation of ethical and
- To revise the curriculum of teacher-training programs to
include gender studies as an indispensable means of eliminating sexist stereotypes and
achieving gender equity.
- To encourage a review of school curricula and teaching
practices to promote equity and solidarity between women and men and tackle the specific
problems of the region, proposing mechanisms for improving the quality of life.
- To promote coeducation and equality in curricula for women
and men, incorporating sex education and family life education as subjects where
- To encourage the inclusion in the curricula for all levels
of education of subjects related to the environment and the responsibility of women and
men to conserve natural resources as the heritage of all generations, both present and
Educational policy and programs
- To support activities that encourage states to allocate
sufficient funds to the educational sector.
- To promote the creation of fellowship programs for women
in technological and scientific professions and for training and apprenticeships in
appropriate and intermediary technology that are linked to the availability of employment
opportunities in their fields of study.
- To assign priority to literacy programs for rural and
impoverished urban populations, including women. To that end, governments and
international organizations are urged to give special attention to allocating funds for
implementing policies and programs to eradicate the illiteracy and functional literacy
prevailing in the region.
- To expand the coverage and improve the quality of
education for the rural population, adapting it to the needs of the people, and providing
access to secondary and higher education.
- To introduce and strengthen distance education systems and
create new secondary schools and scholarship programs for women in vocational and
professional career studies for women in rural and impoverished urban areas.
- To promote the participation of women in the study of
professional fields in science and technology, from which they have been largely excluded
until now, and improve the educational opportunities in rural and impoverished urban
- To use educational course content to bring about
sociocultural change in the perception of roles in the home and workplace and create an
awareness in society that housework should not be the exclusive responsibility of women.
Education and the media
- To design mechanisms to involve the media in education and
consciousness-raising to achieve gender equality and the elimination of sexist
- To conduct informal education programs through the media,
aimed at comprehensive development of the individual and the family. To create an
awareness that both mothers and fathers are responsible for the care and education of
their children and for household tasks.
- To recognize and eliminate the social consequences arising
from stereotyping by gender and age. The media should assist by presenting positive images
of women, emphasizing, in particular, the need to respect women because of their past and
continuing contributions to society.
- To undertake studies and programs to accelerate a change
of attitudes in the process of socialization, in terms of definition of male and female
roles and the elimination of degrading images and representations of women, in order to
achieve a more egalitarian and participatory society and family unit.
- To encourage, through the use of horizontal cooperation,
the training of experts on gender issues to serve as multipliers responsible for promoting
programs on that topic in the region, in both rural and urban areas.
Everyone has the right to enjoy the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health. States should take all appropriate measures to
ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, universal access to effective health-care
- Throughout the region, women live longer than men, and, in
normal situations, the mortality rate of women will be lower than that of men throughout
the age structure, starting from the prenatal stage and early infancy.
- Significant strides have been made in health conditions in
many countries, in both urban and rural areas, with much of the health care duties being
assumed by women. Infant mortality rates have declined as a result of the eradication of
childhood diseases and the widespread use of vaccines, principally because of the high
priority given to maternal and child care in public health programs throughout the region.
In most countries, this issue was given the highest priority during the Decade of Women.
However, there is still room for improvement; for example, malnutrition remains a problem
in many countries.
- Nevertheless, the maternal death rate has not been reduced
significantly, owing, among other things, to lack of adequate medical care and to the
increase in high-risk pregnancies among adolescents, who often lack proper medical
attention. Women's health problems have worsened in the presence of armed conflict,
political violence, or migration.
- Family planning programs, sex education, and family life
education are practiced differently in each country and, generally, are not
institutionalized. A couple's decisions as to the number of offspring and the preferred
contraceptive method are, as a rule, respected. The right of women to control their own
fertility has been recognized in Principle 4 of the Program of Action of the UN
International Conference on Population and Development.
- Despite the achievements of most of the countries in the
public health field, more needs to be done, particularly in regard to health care
coverage, environmental cleanup, public health, and nutrition. In many countries, the
impact of structural adjustment policies, which have led to a reduction in government
spending on health, has had an adverse effect on society.
- Public health programs have been broadened to include
rural areas through the creation of medical services for rural inhabitants, the
establishment of satellite clinics and health centers associated with central hospitals,
and the operation of mobile units, among other measures. Action by groups of volunteer
nurses, paramedics, and community leaders has been encouraged in both urban and rural
areas, and here women have played an important role.
- The majority of public health service providers and
support service providers are female, and women are increasingly represented in the
professional ranks; but, overall, their participation in the policy-making and
decision-making spheres of this sector continues to be very sporadic and limited.
- HIV transmission and the AIDS pandemic continue to
increase globally and in the countries of the Hemisphere, and the number of women infected
has risen significantly.
- The Women, Health and Development Program of the Pan
American Health Organization (PAHO) has made great strides in the introduction of gender
considerations into analysis of the status of health in the region and into the design and
implementation of comprehensive and accessible health care programs.
- To promote the comprehensive health of women by taking
into account the psychobiological factors and gender conditioners that affect women
throughout all stages of life.
- To promote measures to improve the quality of life of
women at all stages of life, providing them effective access to quality services in the
areas of education, health, housing, recreation, and work.
- To support health care programs, giving higher priority to
disease prevention, mother and child care, and the elimination of preventable diseases.
- To ensure the incorporation of a gender perspective in the
planning and delivery of public health services, and to encourage activities that promote
health through the active involvement of women.
- To promote the training of health care personnel to
achieve a better understanding of women's health problems and humanized, high-quality
- To establish a health information system, with
gender-specific statistics and indicators, and to seek to use variables that are helpful
in detecting the health problems of women, including those not related to reproductive
- To promote campaigns concerning women's reproductive
health as a shared responsibility, and to encourage more awareness programs and measures
to encourage couples and individuals to engage in responsible, shared, and voluntary
reproduction, with special emphasis on adolescents.
- To intensify educational programs aimed at preventing
teenage pregnancy, and to bolster postnatal guidance and care directed at teenage mothers.
- To give priority to activities designed to improve the
nutrition of women, in consideration of their nutritional requirements at different stages
of life and emphasizing information and education about these matters.
- To promote more research into chronic diseases, cervical
cancer, uterine cancer, and breast cancer in women for the purpose of developing early
detection and timely quality care for these diseases. It is essential for governments to
redouble their efforts to prevent and treat properly HIV infection, AIDS, and other
sexually transmitted diseases at the national and regional levels.
- To determine the nature of the mental health needs of
women during different stages of life and develop prevention and care programs, with
emphasis on the promotion of self-esteem and the creation of self-help and self-care
groups in the health field.
- To support the programs undertaken by the Pan American
Health Organization (PAHO) in fields related to women, health, and development, and to
seek to establish effective and supportive operational and informational links among the
CIM delegates, the national institutions responsible for the advancement of women, and the
PAHO national focal points.
- To urge governments to strengthen multidisciplinary
programs to combat drug trafficking and the use of narcotic and psychotropic substances,
particularly prevention programs, keeping in mind the specific risks to women and families
in relation to substance abuse. The CIM should work cooperatively with CICAD to address
those issues that relate to women and families, by publishing research studies on the
subject and urging the member countries to increase gender-specific data collection.
- Agenda 21, adopted by the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (Río de Janeiro, 1992) and, in particular, Chapter 24, should
be taken into account in the development of health and environmental programs.
- The care of elderly persons, including women, should go
beyond disease eradication and should address their total well-being. Strategies
concerning primary health care, health services, and suitable accommodations and housing
should be directed at enabling elderly women to lead fruitful lives for as long as
possible, in their own homes, with their families, and in the community.
- Statistics have shown that the life expectancy of women is
greater than that of men. Governments should sponsor programs designed to alleviate
isolation and poverty among elderly women by means of specialized housing, subsidized
medicine, free or low-cost medical services, food, and affordable recreational and
"...violence against women
a violation of their human rights..."
(Convention of Belém do Pará)
- Violence against women pervades all levels of society and
is basically a result of inequality in relations between men and women. Although the
prevalence of this problem may appear to be recent, or more common today, this apparent
"increase" in violence is basically due to the fact that women themselves began
to raise the issue in public discussions, assuming their historic responsibility to
confront this problem and to identify ways to resolve it.
- In 1986, the CIM began an analysis of violence affecting
women and, among other things, approved the Plan of Action in which violence against women
was considered in the chapter "Areas of Special Concern," together with other
topics. The social importance and significance of this problem was perceived by the CIM,
which considers it one of its priority issues.
- For that reason, the CIM convened in 1990 the
Inter-American Consultation on Women and Violence, at which it thoroughly examined the
topic of violence against women and the feasibility of drafting an inter-American
convention on the subject. The conclusions and recommendations of the Inter-American
Consultation on Women and Violence contain a wealth of information because they cover all
aspects of violence, offering specific solutions in each of the areas addressed, and,
moreover, were drawn from the country reports on the topic submitted by the member
countries themselves. The meeting decided that an international treaty instrument on
violence against women was urgently required.
- After three years of study and consultation with the
governments of the region, based on a document drafted by experts convened by the CIM, the
Commission promoted and recently achieved the adoption by acclamation of the
Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence
against Women, "Convention of Belém do Pará," at the twenty-fourth regular
session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States on June 9, 1994, in
Belém do Pará, Brazil. The adoption of this Convention, the first international legal
instrument ever adopted on women and violence, demonstrates the governments' recognition
of the importance of the problem and their determination to make progress in this area.(2)
- This effort to combat violence has been, to a greater or
lesser degree, also undertaken by several countries that have enacted legislation on
family violence and sexual harassment, and some have amended their constitutions, raising
recognition of the rights of the family, women, and children to the level of
constitutional law, and eliminating aspects of discrimination still embodied in their
civil, penal, and labor laws.
- Nonetheless, critical areas still remain to be addressed.
It is therefore necessary to develop proposals for combating violence against women, and
to foster mechanisms to ensure implementation of the Convention, thereby reinforcing the
policies to be suggested with respect to these matters.
- To promote programs to prevent, punish, and eradicate
violence against women.
- Strategies to be undertaken to eliminate and prevent
violence against women should be developed in a holistic manner and incorporate the public
and private sectors, as well as civil society, in their design, implementation, and
Information, education, and dissemination
- To promote, by all available means, the dissemination,
signing, and ratification of the Convention of Belém do Pará, including programs to
highlight the magnitude and breadth of violence against women and the need to adopt
measures to combat it.
- To promote and support, where appropriate, the adaptation
of national legislation to the international conventions and treaties so as to ensure that
women can live free from violence of any kind, both in public and in private.
- To promote the enactment of legislation to eliminate
violence wherever it occurs, whether in the workplace or in the family, to eliminate the
ability of assailants to act with impunity, to accelerate the punishment process, and to
establish effective measures to protect women who have been subjected to violence.
- To promote and support the establishment of comprehensive
legal services as well as other types of services that enable women to defend themselves,
within the framework of respect for their human rights in all spheres (health, education,
- To promote the strengthening of care resources for women
subjected to violence and specialized treatment for assailants.
Statistical development and research
- To promote statistical research to determine the nature
and magnitude of violence against women, by geographic area and social group, in order to
draw up plans, strategies, and work programs to prevent and eliminate it. The CIM should
coordinate research to determine conditions and advances in methodology with a view to
understanding and including data on these subjects within the national statistical and
- To determine the key risk factors for violence against
women in general in order to comply with the preventive intent of the Convention.
- The CIM should promote studies on the social and economic
cost of gender-based violence.
- To develop plans to train and sensitize officials in the
judicial, police, health, and education areas and all other personnel who, in one form or
another, provide services directed toward women.
- To support education, training, information and
communications plans to change sociocultural patterns, which, by defining power relations
that subordinate women to men, legitimize violence against women in the family, in
society, or in the state.
- To support mass information campaigns on the rights of
women, either in domestic or in international law, and in the Inter-American Convention on
the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, using means and
language adapted to the situation of women in each OAS member country--women in urban and
rural areas, indigenous women, females of various ages (especially girls and young
women)--in order to raise public awareness of the gravity of violence and how it affects
the family and the future of new generations.
(2) As of November 11, 1994, fourteen
countries had signed this Convention, and the Congress of one of them had voted to ratify
People are the most important and
valuable resource of any nation.
(Programme of Action of the UN International Conference
on Population and Development - 1994)
- The amendments to the OAS Charter, which included
overcoming poverty as a basic development objective, as well as the "General Policy
Framework and Priorities: Partnership for Development" and the Mexico
"Commitment on a Partnership for Development and Struggle to Overcome Extreme
Poverty," adopted at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly of the
Organization, held in February 1994, constitute the foundations upon which the
inter-American system seeks to build intensified cooperation in the region under a new
approach that will provide more effective, partnership-based support to country efforts
toward development and overcoming poverty.
- This new basic objective of inter-American cooperation
reflects recognition that the economic crisis of the past decade affected most of the
countries in the Hemisphere and, in many cases, came at a high social cost, especially for
women. The aforementioned Commitment [AG/DEC. 1 (XX-E/94)] states that "most member
states carried out reforms and structural adjustment programs that had an impact on levels
of well-being of their people and that such impact can be mitigated by means of additional
and more significant partnership-based cooperation efforts." It also considers that
"some countries have had to contend with additional problems resulting from the grave
situations of armed violence they experienced and, consequently, the efforts to rebuild
their economies call for special support from the international community."
- It also reflects recognition that "democracy,
development, and respect for all human rights are mutually reinforcing interdependent
concepts, and that development and surmounting extreme poverty are a priority for the
exercise of those rights;" and that "only respect for all human rights in the
full exercise of democracy allows peoples, especially the most needy sectors, to freely
exercise their social and economic rights and make their voices heard in the interest of
progress for all."
- An approach to overcoming poverty that stresses the
creation of productive employment, as well as the importance of exchanging experience,
knowledge, and technology among member states to support collectively, and in partnership,
national efforts to overcome poverty is consistent with the social change that women
advocate in that it calls for equity and solidarity between genders and among social
groups, enabling each of the participating groups to contribute and also ensuring access
to the benefits. This process requires that the effect of economic structures and factors
such as foreign debts and their relevance to women be taken into account.
- Although no exhaustive information is available, it is
well known that poverty disproportionately harms women and is aggravated by the increasing
number of female heads of household, who generally have the least secure and worst-paid
jobs. Discrimination in the allocation of productive resources such as land and credit are
additional problems, and government policies do not recognize or value the economic
contributions of rural and urban women through productive and unwaged activities such as
agriculture, food production, child-rearing, and domestic chores.
- The international community in general and many individual
countries are showing a growing concern for sustainable and comprehensive human
development. The World Social Summit will deal with poverty as one of its main topics in
March 1995 in Copenhagen. Poverty also will be an area of priority concern for the Fourth
World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Although great importance is being
attributed to the social agenda, some economic measures adopted by the governments have
affected budgetary allocations to social programs, and this has had a direct impact on
gender equity issues. Another circumstance that also has affected women has been the
transfer to the private sector of responsibility for certain social services traditionally
provided by government.
- Owing to poverty, women are obliged to move away from home
in search of opportunities to improve their lives, which, in many cases, can affect their
living standards and their personal and social development.
- It is in this context that gender equity will find fertile
ground on which to address the process of egalitarian incorporation of women into society.
In this connection, a gender-based perspective brings to the evaluation of living
conditions and of the integration of women into development the idea that improving these
areas is not sufficient unless women's role in society is analyzed--a role based not only
on socioeconomic factors, but also on the functions culturally assigned to women by virtue
of their gender.
- To promote the process of redefining labor and social
policies, with social reform promoted from a gender-based perspective as an instrument for
the eradication of poverty in the countries of the region, within the framework of
sustainable and comprehensive human development and with a distinction made between rural
and urban poverty.
- To achieve a more equitable distribution of income and
resources, and to implement practices that facilitate development of the individual as
well as the community, while paying special attention to the conditions of inequity
- To propose that the fight against the poverty of women be
considered a priority in the national development plans and policies of OAS member
- To ensure the participation of women in the formulation,
implementation, and appraisal of policies, programs, and projects aimed at combating
- To support strategic planning with a gender-based focus in
the design of government policies, programs, and projects on women to guarantee equity and
gauge their impact.
- To promote the integration of a gender perspective into
all economic and social policies in order to ameliorate the negative impact that
structural adjustment policies have had on many countries in the region.
- To conduct studies and statistical research to assess the
impact, magnitude, and incidence of poverty, using relevant, standard indices; to develop
and record relevant gender-disaggregated statistics and undertake special studies on the
feminization of poverty.
- To support the identification of projects and activities
specifically designed to assist in overcoming poverty with an eye on the status of women.
- To propose coordination with the various competent
agencies of the inter-American system to ensure adequate incorporation of elements based
on a gender perspective into the programs and projects they conduct to overcome poverty in
- To promote and strengthen policies that ensure women
access to land, technology, information, and means of production, encouraging credit,
housing, technical assistance, and training programs in the various sectors of the
- To enhance the training and education of women in all
fields in order to increase their work options and so permit them to participate in better
remunerated productive activities.
- To provide support to low-income women through special
employment and income-generating programs.
- To propose that "social compensation" programs,
that is, those that redistribute income and, thus, afford the poor better access to basic
services, be planned and implemented with a gender perspective, giving priority to female
heads of household.
- To optimize social services that provide basic support by
expanding daycare systems for children and the elderly in order to facilitate greater
participation by women in the labor force, the participation of men, and the
democratization of roles within the family.
- To propose that all plans designed to overcome poverty
take account of conserving the environment and natural resources.
- To ensure that all programs aimed at eradicating poverty
are sensitive to the language, culture, race, and gender of those persons for whom the
service is provided.
NATIONAL MACHINERY RESPONSIBLE FOR
THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN (3)
- Since 1950, the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM)
has been recommending that member state governments establish or strengthen women's
bureaus as national support mechanisms for the advancement of women. The strategies to
carry out the CIM Regional Plan of Action during the Decade of Women repeatedly have
indicated the importance of the role of women's bureaus or similar organizations. CARICOM,
the IDB, UNIFEM, and UNICEF have recognized the importance of these institutions in
furthering the advancement of women.
- The United Nations Forward-Looking Strategies also have
pointed to the important role that national machinery for the advancement of women should
play in the development process of their countries.
- The region shows a marked trend toward recognition of the
importance of these institutions, and many have been relocated at the highest level in the
government structure, which, in turn, has enhanced their ability to affect government
policy. In some countries, the person directly responsible for the daily operations of the
national machinery holds the rank of minister; in other cases, there has been a movement
toward the establishment of these institutions by law and, in some cases, as
semiautonomous governmental institutions.
- The national machineries for the advancement of women
continue to share, throughout the region, certain characteristics: most are
under-resourced, in terms of both human and financial resources, with respect to the
activities assigned to them. To the extent that these institutions have been created as
responses to national demands, their effectiveness is an indicator of good governance.
- Some countries of the region have implemented various
programs dealing with women, children, and the family that, in one way or another, are
favorable to women despite institutional weakness, duplication of efforts, and a lack of
effective coordination mechanisms.
- During the Decade of Women, the CIM sponsored two expert
meetings to discuss the women's bureaus, assess their ability and potential to promote
changes in the status of women, and recommend strategies for the future. The first of
these meetings was held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (September 6-10, 1982), and the
second in San José, Costa Rica (November 25-29, 1985). Both meetings set up a framework
for the activities of the CIM in relation to these institutions, which identifies them as
central to the policy planning activities of a nation and as natural counterparts for many
of the CIM-supported programs and projects.
- Over the last decade, a variety of governmental
institutions has been created in the member states with the specific objective of
including gender perspective in government policies in the various sectors.
- To create or strengthen national machineries for the
advancement of women and provide them sufficient resources and authority at the highest
level of government to ensure that a gender perspective is applied in the formulation of
policies and programs, data collection, research, and evaluation.
- To ensure that the national machineries responsible for
the advancement of women have sufficient resources and authority to ensure that all
development policies and programs include women, recognize their contribution to
development and enable them to participate equally in its benefits. The basic functions of
these national machineries should be preparing studies on the status of women, formulation
of policies, coordination, follow-up, and evaluation of those policies.
- To establish and/or strengthen program and operational
linkages with national institutions, the OAS National Liaison Agencies (ONEs), official
national agencies responsible for bilateral and multilateral assistance, and those
responsible for national planning in order to facilitate a coordinated approach to
planning and ensure the inclusion of a gender focus in national development plans.
- The national machinery responsible for the advancement of
women should conduct an intersectoral study with the cooperation of the various ministries
and sectors and civil society in order to devise a comprehensive approach to its
- To ensure that the national machinery has the
responsibility to coordinate and supervise the various governmental activities dealing
with gender issues, to enhance the activities that are required of the governmental
agencies dealing with women's issues.
- The national machinery should maintain close coordination
with the various technical cooperation agencies and financing agencies that support
development projects in its country in order to promote the inclusion of a gender focus.
- The national machinery should establish close
collaborative working relationships with the focal points for gender issues that are
established in specific ministries as a result of recommendations from other regional and
international organizations. The focal points that deal with the issues of women, health,
and development and that liaise with PAHO are an example.
- The national machinery responsible for the advancement of
women should establish close working relations with the national statistics offices in
order to promote the production of uniform and accurate statistical data, disaggregated by
gender, to accurately reflect the status of women and to support the formulation of
national policies. This information should be provided to the CIM Permanent Secretariat
and other regional and international organizations for their information and analysis.
- The national machinery should compile information on
agencies that finance projects for women, or that affect women, in order to keep abreast
of the various alternatives available to countries.
- The CIM principal delegate should establish close
coordination and cooperation with the national machinery responsible for the advancement
of women in order to support execution of those policies, and report periodically to the
CIM Permanent Secretariat on the progress made.
- The CIM should support the expansion, consolidation and
operation of the network of national machinery responsible for the advancement of women in
OAS member countries and the establishment of collaborative linkages among the national
(3) These institutions, commonly known as
national machinery for the advancement of women, are the governmental institutions created
to promote the advancement of women.
Cooperation plans and programs must be linked to
overall national development objectives and priorities, and should focus equally on women
and men. Cooperation plans and programs should incorporate the gender perspective. Women
should be full and equal participants in cooperation projects and activities. The needs of
underprivileged groups of women should receive special attention in cooperation programs.
- The Decade of Women showed an increase in the exchange of
information and cooperation among organizations in relation to women's activities, and
most regional bodies designated focal points for women's activities. However, in many
cases, insufficient resource allocations to those activities limited their long-term
effectiveness. Moreover, in many instances, activities to promote the integration of women
in development were confined to these focal points, and have not been incorporated in
planning and in programs.
- During and since the Decade of Women, the General Assembly
of the Organization of American States has included full and equal participation of women
by the year 2000 as a specific item on its agenda, and has received biennial reports
concerning the activities undertaken by the organs and agencies of the inter-American
system. The CIM has been called to provide the conceptual framework to facilitate the
evaluation of programs designed to achieve such full and equal participation. To this end,
the CIM has signed cooperation agreements with the following inter-American specialized
organizations: the Inter-American Indian Institute-III-(1981), the Pan American Health
Organization-PAHO-(1982), the Inter-American Children's Institute-IIN-(1982), and the
Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture-IICA-(1979); the CIM also signed a
Supplementary Technical Cooperation Agreement with the General Secretariat of the OAS
- The amendments to the Charter of the Organization, which
included elimination of extreme poverty as a basic objective of integral development and
led to the creation of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), as well
as to the General Policy Framework and Priorities: Partnership for Development and the
Mexico Commitment on a Partnership for Development and Struggle to Overcome Extreme
Poverty, adopted at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly of the
Organization on cooperation for development, held in February 1994, constitute the basis
for intensified cooperation within the inter-American system, with a new focus, so as to
support national development efforts.
- Within this conceptual and operating framework, the CIM
has a dual task: on the one hand, to identify projects and activities specifically
designed to help overcome the problems affecting women, with particular emphasis on the
issue of poverty, while responding to the needs of women, and, on the other hand, to
coordinate with the various competent organizations of the inter-American system to ensure
adequate inclusion of a gender perspective in programs and projects carried out to
overcome poverty in the region.
- To ensure that mechanisms of cooperation for development
effectively and efficiently contribute to achieving full participation by women in all
aspects of the development process, paying special attention to overcoming poverty.
- Regional cooperation strategies must be formulated on the
premise that sustainable development requires the full participation of women as both
agents and beneficiaries of that process. All inter-American development agencies should
incorporate gender considerations in their policies and put in place the monitoring and
evaluation systems necessary to ensure their effective implementation.
- Once the Inter-American Council for Integral Development
(CIDI) is established, the CIM should establish an effective advisory and cooperative
relationship with the Council and seek to ensure that all projects submitted to the
Council for consideration contain a clearly identified gender perspective. This advisory
assistance includes training planners and specialists of inter-American development
agencies in gender issues and in planning with a gender perspective.
- The CIM should inform delegates on new forms of
cooperation, access to the various methods of cooperation, and the principal priorities
and policies of the OAS.
- The CIM should promote inter- and intra-institutional
coordination to further the advancement of women and their integration into the
development process, particularly in relation to the exchange of information and the
establishment of collaborative arrangements to undertake joint activities, the
strengthening of regional and subregional information systems on women, the creation of
databases and information systems on women, and collaboration with agencies specializing
in gender issues, thereby developing opportunities to share information and research data
at the national level and among agencies.
- The CIM periodically should study reports on the progress
made and concrete measures implemented at the national, regional, and inter-American
levels to advance the status of women in relation to the goals and strategies formulated.
MIGRATION AND WOMEN
IN AREAS OF CONFLICT
Migrant, refugee, and displaced
women constitute highly
vulnerable groups with specific needs that
require special mechanisms to satisfy them.
- Women are involved in two types of migration, internal and
international, the many causes of which often include international economic inequities,
poverty, and environmental degradation, in addition to a lack of peace and security, human
rights violations, and the underdevelopment of democratic and judicial institutions.
- Migration can take place from the countryside to the city,
or from one geographic area to another, primarily to marginalized urban sectors. In many
cases this type of migration involves a search for work or better employment opportunities
and the expectation of a more prosperous life and access to schooling, housing, and health
care. But in some countries of the region armed conflicts are what have led the
population, especially women, to leave in search of safety and protection for their
fundamental rights. In war-torn areas, girls and elderly women are more notably at risk
because of their vulnerability to violence.
- Some of the damaging effects of in-country migration are
poverty, violence--including sexual assault--and overcrowding in the cities, which in turn
leads to higher crime rates; these conditions severely burden the country's social
- International migration mainly grows out of the same roots
as internal migration. This problem is made even more complex by each country's
regulations on the legal status of female migrants, whether migrant workers, refugees, or
asylum-seekers. Moreover, despite recognition of the universality of human rights, acts of
ethnic, racial, religious, and gender discrimination still persist, along with xenophobia
and intolerance, threatening the dignity, coexistence, and respect that should exist among
persons, groups, and nations; racism and discrimination in their various forms are
offenses against human rights and the principles and practices of democracy as a way of
life and form of government.
- The effects of international migration include family
disintegration; loss of valuable human resources, including skilled workers, which
negatively affects the development of the country of origin; the potential use of women in
drug trafficking and prostitution; all of which negatively affects both the country of
origin and the destination country.
- The magnitude and complexity of problems faced today by
migrant women--be they displaced persons, refugees, asylum-seekers, or migrant
workers--and their families, as well as the enormous difficulties involved in helping and
protecting them, are still cause for profound concern.
- To promote respect for all the human rights of migrant
women, studying and combating the causes of migration and encouraging sustainable
development in the countries of the region so as to raise living standards in the
countryside and cities.
- To expand efforts to find solutions and reduce conflicts
through dialogue and political negotiation, so as to guarantee individuals their right to
live in peace and democracy in a framework of respect for law and human rights.
- To analyze and combat the causes of migration, especially
those linked to poverty, by promoting measures aimed at economic self-sufficiency for
women, including access to jobs, appropriate working conditions, and control over economic
resources, the environment, land, capital, and technology.
- To ensure that countries having to take in displaced
persons or refugees have financial and technical assistance at the appropriate level so as
to provide them with the care they require.
- To integrate the population of displaced women into
development programs, and to create incentives for them to return to their places of
- To promote continuing education programs for rural women
and poor urban women so they have the skills to avoid migration and overcrowding in the
- To promote also access to basic food, housing, and health
services, taking the special circumstances of migrant women into account; to include rural
and poor urban women in social security systems and other social welfare programs.
- To train migrant women and sensitize them through
self-esteem and gender awareness programs.
- To allocate additional financial resources to care for
women in special situations owing to age, living conditions, or membership in minority and
indigenous groups, while recognizing and respecting their cultural traditions.
- To promote an integrated approach to economic and social
policies that would serve as a tool for keeping certain groups of women in special
situations from being marginalized and, at the same time, would contribute to the
advancement and fair social treatment of women.
- To promote programs to prevent and discourage drug use,
drug trafficking, and prostitution.
- To provide adequate care to women living in temporary
shelters because of disasters or political problems.
- To urge member states to guarantee protection of all of
the human rights of female migrant workers and their families, refugee women, displaced
women, or women seeking asylum, as well as of minority populations and women who are
victims of ethnic, racial, job, or gender discrimination, in accordance with the
corresponding international instruments and generally accepted principles of international
law, and to urge them to create conditions promoting greater harmony between them and the
rest of society.