Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Preparation of a Report on Types of Discrimination that Restrict Women from Exercising their Full Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women is preparing a specialized report with specific recommendations for the OAS Member States, with the aim of improving and strengthening laws, policies, and practices to tackle the problem of discrimination and to guarantee that women's economic, social, and cultural rights are duly respected and protected. As part of the preparation of this report, the Office of the Rapporteur devised a questionnaire designed to compile information on the primary achievements and the challenges women face in their countries in exercising their economic, social, and cultural rights, particularly in the workplace, in education, and in access to and control of resources under conditions of equality, among other such areas.

The binding principles of equality and nondiscrimination are a central pillar of the inter-American human rights system and its instruments, including the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women ("Convention of Belem do Pará"). As a result, the States have made a commitment to guarantee the exercise of women's human rights under conditions of equality and without any form of discrimination. The Protocol of San Salvador also includes an extensive catalog of human rights, including the right to work, trade union rights, the right to social security, the right to health, the right to food, and the right to education, among others. In its Article 3, the Protocol of San Salvador establishes the obligation of the States Parties to guarantee these rights, without discrimination of any kind.

The IACHR used to address the issue of discrimination against women as it pertains to the exercise and enjoyment of their civil and political rights, through individual petitions and reports on this subject. However, it is frequently the case that to address civil and political rights it is necessary to also address economic, social, and cultural rights, given the interdependence and holistic nature of these rights. Thus, the Commission has been directing its efforts toward other forms of discrimination that go beyond the sphere of civil and political rights, and has been tackling economic, social, and cultural rights. An example of that is the recent report on Access to Justice as a Guarantee of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. A Review of the Standards Adopted by the Inter-American System of Human Rights. The report was prepared by the IACHR to help advance the protection of economic, social, and political rights in the region. In addition, the IACHR recently prepared the document Guidelines for the Preparation of Progress Indicators in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

While important progress has been made throughout the region, especially in the area of formal equality between men and women, the States must still advance new and varied initiatives to promote equality and equity, specifically in the area of economic, social, and cultural rights. As part of its work in the inter-American human rights system, the IACHR, through its Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, has viewed with concern the way in which discrimination against women is particularly evident in the structural inequalities between men and women in the economic, educational, labor, health, and justice sectors and in political decision-making.

In order to gain more insight into the matter, the Office of the Rapporteur will conduct an analysis of the obstacles women throughout the hemisphere continue to face in the effective protection of their economic, social, and cultural rights without discrimination. In particular, the Office of the Rapporteur aims to develop standards, from a human rights perspective, that can guide States' actions in overcoming the obstacles that keep women from fully exercising these rights. The Office of the Rapporteur will focus its efforts in this regard on (i) the work sphere; (ii) the sphere of education; and (iii) women's access to and control of resources under conditions of equality. 

The questionnaire was disseminated on May 3, 2010, and the deadline for sending responses in to the IACHR was July 10, 2010.


Examples of Hearings on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Women

Peticionarios: Lilian Sepúlveda, Centro de Derechos Reproductivos; Viviana Krsticevic, Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL); Enfren Olivares, Clínica Lowenstein de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Yale; Katherine Grainger, Centro de Derechos ReproductivosPúblico en la audiencia sobre Derechos reproductivos de las mujeres en las AméricasPúblico en la audiencia sobre Derechos reproductivos de las mujeres en las AméricasPúblico en la audiencia sobre Derechos reproductivos de las mujeres en las Américas
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