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July 1, 1999


The executive committee of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) began its second regular meeting in Washington on Wednesday, with a challenge to take an even more important role in integrating women into the development process.

Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas, the OAS Assistant Secretary General, opened the meeting stressing poverty, social inequality, marginalization and discrimination as daunting challenges to economic, social and political stability in the hemisphere. "More than ever, there is need to focus specific attention on women as agents of change," he urged.

"The focus of the next biennium will be to reaffirm the leadership, relevance and uniqueness of CIM," he declared to the delegates, pointing out that "development of the inter-American program on the promotion of women’s rights and gender equity" was one of the outstanding initiatives of the Commission, a specialized agency of the OAS.

For her part, Dulce Marķa Sauri Riancho of Mexico, the President of CIM, declared that as the 21st century approached, her Commission was opening up new horizons. She said they had already begun working with similar agencies around the world and would collaborate with more non-governmental and civil society organizations, in keeping with mandates from the Commission’s Assembly of Delegates and the OAS General Assembly.

The President singled out violence against women as one of the agency’s priority issues. She said the agency proposed to conduct an in-depth study on how the OAS Convention adopted five years ago to stamp out violence against women was being implemented and complied with.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Virginia Contreras Navarrete, pledging to be an ally in the women’s cause, called for reform of the system under which women are held in prison. "We must remember that women are mothers and that the problem of imprisonment affects not only them but their families and children as well," she said.

Among other topics, the three-day executive committee meeting will consider a program of promotion of women’s rights and gender equity, the Commission’s budgetary execution up to last May, women’s issues being prepared for the Third Summit of the Americas to be held next year, and follow-up action to the Plan of Action that emerged from the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing, China.