Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


September 27, 2015 - New York

The post-2015 development agenda has been introduced as a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity. It is significant that the first two items on that list are “people” and “planet.” Prosperity is critical, particularly so when the quest for it places people and our planet first. Economic growth needs to lead to sharing prosperity among different groups in society, while protecting the environment. Traditional production and consumption patterns have resulted in widespread global poverty and inequality, environmental destruction, and an increased level of insecurity related to economic and climate-based shocks. These realities affect women disproportionately. They are the majority of the poor and unemployed, and those affected by natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies.

At the Organization of American States (OAS), through its Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), we have made important strides through our work to strengthen the legal framework of women’s rights and gender equality. Latin America and the Caribbean as a region now showcase some of the strongest legal protection frameworks for women and girls in the world. Four months ago, when I assumed the position of Secretary General of the Organization of American States, I was adamant at the outset that my mandate would contribute to broadening the access to rights of all the peoples of the Americas. My recurrent theme has been and will continue to be “More rights for more people.”

From the perspective of women’s rights, we are still facing two major challenges. First, the limitations of the scope and reach of women’s rights: the Americas continue to have some of the most restrictive laws regarding sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, and that reality has to change. Thousands and thousands of women die from illegal abortions every year in the Americas.

First, we have to fix this kind of genocide. If women don’t enjoy their right to life, their human right to life; if women don’t have the right to health and the right to access to public health, then we are too far behind what we can do to make them resolve some of the other problems they have in the Hemisphere. Then, we can deal with other matters, such as why women are the poorest, the most unemployed, why their salaries are the lowest, why we need to increase women´s political participation.

The second challenge is a continued lack of access to justice for women. We may have a brilliant legal framework on paper, but without effective implementation, it becomes pure rhetoric.

I would like to stress that we will continue to work with our member countries to overcome these two obstacles by ensuring that the Americas have a legal framework that covers the full range of human rights and that it is efficiently implemented at the national and local levels.

Thank you.