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OAS Promotes "Wear Red for Women" Campaign to Eradicate Violence against Women Commemorating 20 years of the Belém do Pará Convention

  May 2, 2014

The Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) today organized the event "Wear Red for Women," which aimed at generating greater awareness about violence against women, and to address challenges in implementing the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as the Belém do Pará Convention, adopted 20 years ago.

The event, held at OAS headquarters in Washington DC, encouraged participants to wear a red item, as a sign of support and awareness of the challenges that face many women in the Hemisphere living the with the daily scourge of violence.

The OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza welcomed the event participants saying that this is "a solemn occasion to celebrate that 20 years ago, during the twenty-fourth General Assembly of the OAS, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, now known as the Convention of Belém do Pará was adopted." In this regard, the Secretary General noted that the Convention has now been ratified by 32 of the 34 active OAS members and that it has promoted the creation of laws and statutory regulations and information campaigns, data collection, legal and health assistance, and noted that "despite great progress made this remains a very serious problem and we still have many countries in the region with unacceptable figures."

The head of the hemispheric institution cited data from the World Health Organization indicating that 35% of women are victims of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from others. "We know that violence against women in its many forms is costly, not only for women who suffer it but also for the entire society," stressed Secretary General Insulza, who then recalled figures from the Inter-American Development Bank, according to which "the costs of violence against women are around 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and yet countries in the region only spend between 0.01 % and 0.1 % of their GDP in programs to prevent, treat and punish such violence, which indicates that we are not dedicating enough resources to this issue."

The Secretary General emphasized the need for having not only the provisions and legal frameworks that underpin efforts to combat gender-based violence, but also the monitoring mechanisms, such as the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI), and others to measure progress in this area. He insisted that one of the pending tasks is the criminalization of femicide in the criminal codes of the region, which "will strengthen administrative records, administration of justice, crime prevention and policies to protect victims."

Insulza closed his presentation referring to the Hemispheric Forum "The Belém do Pará Convention and the prevention of violence against women: Best practices and proposals for the future," to be held in Hidalgo, Mexico, on May 14 – 16, which seeks to identify progress and challenges to the effective prevention of violence from the fields of education and communication for gender equality and nonviolence.

The Chair of the OAS Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis to the OAS, Jacinth Henry -Martin, highlighted that it “brings visual and vocal focus to domestic violence through the most obvious and potently symbolic color: red.” She also recalled that " domestic violence respect no one since everyone who witnesses its sheer wanton frequency is negatively impacted," she said, and made a call to pay tribute to the victims of the scourge of gender violence "by doing everything in our power to promote specific legislation to protect our children, partners, mothers and sisters."

"Personally I consider as the most urgent objective the need to sound the alarm to urge every woman, every mother and every teacher to be in constantly alert, vigilant," she affirmed. "We must teach our sons and daughters that domestic violence in all its forms is reprehensible; all starts with education and self-sufficiency," said Ambassador Henry -Martin, who concluded by noting that "as we wear red for women today, let us pause to remember the lives affected by domestic violence and let us pledge in our various capacities to work for the advancement of all women’s rights."

The event also featured addresses by the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS, Emilio Rabasa; the Representative of Argentina, Nilda Garre Celia; the Representative of Guatemala, Jose Maria Argueta; the Permanent Observer of France to the OAS, Jean-Claude Nolla and the Permanent Observer of Italy, Sebastiano Fulci. In their speeches the various representatives of member and observer countries recalled the importance of promoting greater efforts to prevent and eradicate violence against women and noted specific initiatives that have been undertaken in their own countries in this matter.

The Executive Secretary of the CIM, Carmen Moreno, closed the session by thanking the organizers, sponsors and participants and recalled that today's event is part of efforts to give greater visibility and relevance to the role of women in the societies of the Hemisphere. Ambassador Moreno warned that, despite progress, violence remains a daily reality for many women in our region and therefore should be high on post-2015 development agenda.

More information on the "Wear Red for Women" campaign is available here.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-182/14