PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION
OF AMERICAN STATES
PROGRESS REPORT PRESENTED BY THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
The CIM's Strategic Plan of Action, the commitments of the 1994 Summit of the Americas, and the Beijing Platform for Action, the underpinnings of the CIM's work, are all closely related to one another. These instruments, which have been approved by the governments in the Hemisphere, offer a clear picture of the action that must be undertaken in the future on a national level and within the framework of the multilateral organizations.
Item 18 of the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas expressly refers to the need to strengthen the role of the woman in society and specifies that to attain this objective it is essential to promote participation by women in the decision-making process in all spheres of political, social, and economic life; undertake appropriate measures to address and reduce violence against women, increase the capacity of women to earn a livelihood beyond traditional occupations, and further strengthen the Inter-American Commission of Women. The CIM has carried out the following activities in furtherance of these aims.
A number of issues emanating from the Summit of the Americas provided an opportunity for developing plans to strengthen the role of women in society and covered many of the topics identified in the CIM's Strategic Plan of Action. The most important of these topics are:
--Eradicating poverty and discrimination in our Hemisphere;
All of the projects carried out since 1994 have been funded solely by the CIM, without receiving any other budgetary appropriations to fulfill the mandates of the Summit.
That is why the CIM basically followed the guidelines set out in the mandates received from its own agency and made the most of the similarities with the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas to implement them.
The CIM has also teamed up with other international agencies with an eye to combining efforts and eliminating duplication of efforts.
As to actions that need to be approved by the governments, the CIM was successful in getting the member states to ratify the Convention of Belém do Pará and to introduce national legislation making domestic violence punishable by law or at the very least designating it as an offence.
No significant progress was noted with respect to strengthening the CIM as a specialized organization except in a few areas. The Commission's needs in terms of staff and material resources were not addressed. On the domestic front, no significant headway was made in strengthening the Commission as a governmental institution responsible for policy on women.
Generally speaking, we have not received either the financial or political support that is needed to implement more fully the proposals of the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas. As a result, this specialized body has been unable to pursue the more specific issues relating to item 18 of the Plan of Action.
We tried to change the situation in which we found ourselves. We have now succeeded in transforming that situation and thanks to better information and our active involvement in different areas, we have come to be seen in the countries as the appropriate agency for dealing with the issue of women in this Hemisphere, and these views and aspirations are shared throughout the region.
The Second Hemispheric Technical Follow-up Meeting on Item 18 of the Plan of Action was held at our headquarters on October 23 and 24. At the meeting, it was recognized that we are prepared to assume the responsibilities imposed by the Summit of the Americas and the countries in attendance expressed the hope that this would occur and that it be one of the mandates of the Santiago summit. Attached is a copy of the decisions taken at that meeting.
For the future, we are planning to work with other organizations specifically for the purpose of achieving the objectives set out in the Plan of Action which were identified at this meeting. The CIM will organize its agenda to reflect this aim and will incorporate guidelines in its work program and its budget making it possible to attain these objectives.
The countries participating in the technical meeting expect to receive information from the CIM on implementing the mandates of the Summit and it is our understanding that this will occur even in the event that a decision is not taken in Santiago, Chile.
In view of the constraints of time, we are providing a summary in table format outlining the similarities between the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas and the CIM Plan of Action, which was drawn up some time ago.
THE SECOND HEMISPHERIC TECHNICAL FOLLOW-UP MEETING ON ITEM 18 "STRENGTHENING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY" PLAN OF ACTION OF THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
DECLARATION OF POLICY
It is the responsibility and duty of all States to ensure equality among women and men, as a fundamental principle of human rights and an essential requirement for strengthening democracy and achieving social justice, development, and peace.
INITIATIVES OF THE PLAN OF ACTION
That the governments will:
Strengthen, and create where none exist, national mechanisms and government agencies in charge of promoting equality among men and women as well as regional and subregional networks and provide them with ample funding on a timely basis in order to be in a position to promote, coordinate, and ensure compliance on the part of the states with the commitments agreed on at the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen), the Platform for Action of the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women (Beijing) and the Summit of the Americas.
To review existing laws in order to identify legal barriers that hinder full participation by women in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of our countries and, where necessary, to spur reforms or the enactment of new legislation to eliminate discrimination in all of its forms and violence against women and to protect the rights of the child.
The CIM/OAS will be actively involved on a regional and national level in monitoring the commitments pertaining to the situation and condition of women, agreed on at the Summit of the Americas through the mechanisms agreed on in this regard, in conjunction with the countries concerned and in bringing international agencies and institutions for cooperation into the process.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF WOMEN (CIM)
This document sums up the work completed in 1994 and 1995 and the initial activities planned for 1996 as part of the commitments under the Summit of the Americas and the Strategic Plan of Action of the Inter-American Commission of Women approved at the Twenty-seventh Assembly of Delegates of the CIM.
It should be borne in mind that the Strategic Plan of Action is consistent with the Beijing Platform for Action and the Action Program adopted at the Sixth Regional Conference on the Integration of Women into Social and Economic Development (Mar del Plata).
The Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas refers specifically to the initiative and the commitment to strengthen the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM).
The strengthening of the CIM covers three interrelated areas that are mutually reinforcing and complement one another:
1. strengthening at the national level,
The concept of strengthening at the national level is concerned with effective and suitable national measures to carry out activities and projects ensuing from the Plan of Action and the Programming Guidelines, which will in turn assist the delegates of the CIM to perform their tasks. One important element is the strengthening of government bodies responsible for policies on women's issues.
As to institutional-building, there are two elements of importance: (a) human resources that the CIM Permanent Secretariat will need to maintain a critical mass in technical capacity and to perform the tasks entrusted to it in terms of technical and management functions and advisory services and research, and (b) regional country support programs.
Strengthening the process of consensus building in matters of priority, including consultation on a hemispheric and subregional level on issues of priority.
Conducting special studies in areas and fields accorded priority by the countries (regional and national).
Providing advisory assistance for project formulation, identification of sources of financing, and raising funds (supply/demand).
Assisting with partnership for the countries in areas of technical cooperation (supply/demand)
Establishing a computerized database of bibliographic references and statistics and common information base on national and regional project pipelines.
Strengthening the infrastructure of the CIM Permanent Secretariat through the recruitment of additional staff.
Increasing the CIM's budget in order to have a funding base that is sufficient to promote horizontal cooperation between member countries and a reasonable budgetary level for the CIM Seed Fund.
The question of multilateral or interagency strengthening is intended to produce effective coordination and intersectoral cooperation with other agencies in the inter-American system and any other agency with interests akin to those of the CIM, including parliamentary forums, research centers, etc. for raising financing and for specialized technical knowledge.
The basic aim is to develop the role of the CIM as a partner in the enterprise for development. In 1994 and 1995, the CIM started a process of identifying nodes and points of effective collaboration and supplemental instruments.
The CIM has cooperated closely with PAHO in carrying out activities concerned with: (1) strengthening national institutions in charge of women's policy, (2) violence against women, and (3) gender training in project formulation and planning.
The CIM, the IDB, UNICEF, and UNIFEM have agreed on a joint program forparticipation by women in decision-making that will encompass policy and the public and private sectors.
The CIM Executive Secretariat has been invited to join the Regional Consultative Committee (Caribbean) on matters relating to UNIFEM Women and Gender issues. The main objective of this initiative is to monitor the activities carried out in the region to ensure that a coordinated approach is adopted and to provide advisory assistance for activities being planned.
The Executive Secretariat is a member of the ad hoc Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence of the International Center for the Reform of Criminal Justice and Legislative Reform of Canada. A basic study program has been prepared offering training courses to individuals concerned with the administration of justice. The course of study will be initially tested by ILANUD in pilot courses for the Central American region.
The Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) has signed a cooperation agreement with the CIM and similar agreements are planned with the Andean and Latin American Parliaments.
With the organizations and areas of the OAS General Secretariat: joint activities are being carried out with CICAD and the Department of Cultural Affairs and an attempt will be made to coordinate efforts and collaborate with the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy and within the areas for which each agency is responsible with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Advisory activities: the CIM's mandate is to advise the OAS in the Commission's specialized areas. The CIM is looking forward to possible collaboration with the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI). Coordination with CIDI will mean establishing a suitablemechanism for coordinating efforts between CIDI and the agencies in the inter-American system, including the CIM in order to fulfill its role as an advisor and to ensure that the activities programmed and OAS policies include the gender dimension.
AREAS OF PRIORITY IN THE SHORT TERM
Eliminating violence against women and promoting human rights
Promoting universal ratification of the Convention of Belém do Pará and collaboration with member countries in specific areas of action such as training for individuals involved in the administration of justice (judges, policemen, lawyers, etc.) with respect to incorporating knowledge of the subject, review of laws, and training of interdisciplinary teams.
The Convention of Belém do Pará has been translated into several languages, such as Aymara, Creole, Guarani, Dutch, and Quechua, which are widely spoken in the member countries.
In March 1996, the CIM, IACHR, PAHO, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and the School of Law of the American University sponsored a joint Conference on Women, Human Rights, and the Inter-American System: An Agenda for Action.
Participation by women in the power structure
Identifying effective strategies for promoting participation by women in the decision-making process (CIM/PARLACEN Meeting, February 1996).
Fostering exchanges between members of parliament and former members of parliament on strategies for gaining access to power structures and participation therein.
Education and poverty
Strengthening the CIM Seed Fund in order to continue generating funding for local activities and furthering partnership.
Creating conditions and mechanisms conducive to sustainable human development, sound and effective institutions, and competent human resources.
In 1996, the CIM Steering Committee decided to hold subregional meetings wherever possible in cooperation with other entities and agencies in the region on the issues of poverty and education, participation by women in power structures and decision-making, and violence and human rights, issues that are considered to be closely interrelated, in order to help identify specific strategic measures for implementing the CIM's Plan of Action. The four subregional meetings will cover: the Caribbean (site to be decided); Central America, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic (site: Panama, CIM-PARLACEN); Southern Cone (site to be decided); and the Andean Region (site: Quito, CIM-UNIFEM-FUPAD); and the Principal Delegates of Canada and the United States will be invited to attend the meetings depending on their priorities.
CONVENTION OF BELÉM DO PARÁ - STATUS OF SIGNATURES AND RATIFICATIONS