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Message from the OAS Secretary General on International Women's Day

  March 9, 2015

The exclusion of women is a multidimensional issue that contributes to making their participation in economic, social and political spheres precarious, affecting their ability to influence political systems and processes. Their marginalization from decision-making state institutions, political representation and public resources imposes limits on democracy and the exercise of full citizenship. Progress has been made, but much more needs to be done.

That is why on this International Women's Day, I urge member states to further consolidate these gains at the level of political commitment and legal frameworks with the resources, the programs and follow-up necessary to ensure that they impact the lives of women forever.

The legal and policy framework on women's rights in the Americas is the strongest in the world after Western Europe. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará) among other mechanisms, ensure that in legal terms, women enjoy a wide range of rights on equal terms with men.

Over the last ten years, these advances at the regional level have been echoed in the Organization of American States (OAS) through its Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) that has strengthened its conceptual and methodological bases and enriched political debate to make the Organization a hemispheric reference point on the rights of women and gender equality.

With the adoption in 2000 of the Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality (PIA) all the OAS member states took on a strong commitment to make public policies, strategies and proposals designed to promote the human rights of women and gender equality in all spheres of public and private life, taking into account their diversity and cycles of life.

The latest report from PIA notes that the internal organs of the OAS are working on integrating the adoption of gender as an essential component in its functioning.

The objective of this policy is to train staff members of the Organization with a guide and a virtual course on the integration of a focus on gender and rights; integrate a gender perspective into the preparation and application of tools, mechanisms and procedures, including the agendas of ministerial meetings; assess the relevance of ongoing projects taking into account their degree of attention to cross-cutting issues, including gender; and strengthen monitoring and evaluation of efforts to integrate gender in the OAS and accountability based on the commitments made.

In this context, the Integrated System of Indicators of Women’s Human Rights established by the CIM to support member states to harmonize their legislation and economic and social public policies with binding international agreements on women's rights and gender equality should be highlighted. This system of indicators, a first in the region, integrates seven kinds of rights: economic, educational, labor and social security, health, sexual and reproductive rights, and political rights. Similarly, in the Follow-up Mechanism of the Convention of Belém do Pará (MESECVI) a series of indicators to measure the rights of women to live free from violence have been adopted.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-069/15