Press Release

On the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) to recognize their Human Rights and guarantee them a life free of violence

October 15, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - On the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, which is observed on October 15, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) to recognize the Human Rights of rural women and guarantee their right to a life that is free of violence. The Commission urges the States to recognize the situation of women and girls in rural zones, to address their specific needs, and to adopt the necessary measures to decisively eradicate the violence and discrimination that they face.

The Commission observes that, worldwide and with very few exceptions, rural women face greater challenges to the full enjoyment of their rights, as compared to rural men and urban men and women. In the Americas, poverty and exclusion affect them in a disproportionate way. At the same time, rural women face systematic discrimination in regards to access to land and natural resources. Furthermore, they undertake the greater part of non-remunerated household work, due to stereotypical gender roles; even when they are formally employed, they are more likely to perform dangerous, insecure, and poorly remunerated jobs that do not always provide them with social protections. They have limited Access to water, education and health services, while also facing difficulties in Access to banking, administrative and civil documentation services.

In the international sphere, the situation of rural women has been progressively approached as a way to shine visibility to their needs and diversity. In our region, said diversity is evidenced in the activities these women develop: agriculture, gathering, fishing, and other rural activities. “Rural women are also defined by their cultural and territorial interrelations; many of them are also indigenous and afro descendent. However, their rights and needs have not been fully addressed by the States of the region; many times, laws and policies in that recognize their situation are not enacted” said Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, President of the IACHR.

The Commission highlights the additional risks that women and girls face in regards to violence and discrimination due to the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes that subordinate them to men, the challenges related to effectively accessing justice, and social tolerance and impunity against such acts. Women and girls are in particular risk of suffering acts of violence, exploitation, trafficking, and harassment when they leave their communities to find employment in the cities. In zones of conflict, women of rural areas are particularly affected by internal displacement and gender-based violence, including murder and sexual violence.

“In our region, justice is often inaccessible to rural women when discriminatory laws and practices are combined with a lack of information, attention units, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services,” noted Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur for the Rights of Women of the IACHR. “Access to justice, as well as to basic services like education, health, and water must be guaranteed under the criteria of integrality and proximity, with a gender perspective and intercultural approach” concluded Commissioner Macaulay.

The Commission makes an appeal to the States of the Region to recognize the situation of women in rural zones and to approach their specific needs in order to guarantee the full enjoyment of their rights. For this, States must take all necessary measures in the legislative, institutional, and budgetary spheres, both at the local and national levels, with the aim to tackle the difficulties they face when accessing basic services, to contribute to their political and economic empowerment as well as to decisively eradicate violence and discrimination against them.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 259/19