Documents and Videos of the October 12th, 1999 Meeting of the 


Hall of the Americas, Organization of American States

video.jpg (1739 bytes)


Presentation by Carmen Lomellín, Executive Secretary
of the Inter-American Commission of Women


Good morning distinguished ambassadors, representatives from the missions and distinguished guests. On behalf of the honorable Dulce Maria Sauri Riancho, President of the Inter-American Commission of Women, I thank you for this opportunity to present a synopsis of the activities and initiatives undertaken to fulfill the mandates of the Santiago Summit of the Americas.

In April, 1998, The Second Summit of the Americas gave specific mandates to the Organization of American States (OAS) pertaining to its lines of action. Following these initiatives, the twenty-eighth regular session of the OAS adopted mandates for the support and follow-up of these initiatives, and requested that the organs, agencies, and entities of the Inter-American System give priority to the initiatives included in the Santiago Plan of Action. The work done within CIM to fulfill these mandates is described below:

In the area of education:

In fulfillment of the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas, the Executive Committee of CIM approved the preparation of an education project, with a gender focus. The project is entitled "The Educational Status of Women in the Americas", and contains an analysis of the current educational status of women.

Based on the assessment done and the highlighting of the main problems related to the educational status of women, four fundamental lines of action are proposed:

  1. Eliminate the deficiencies in the training of women, particularly young women, in order to enable them to enter the job market;
  2. Eliminate the weaknesses in the formal education of female adults and elderly persons;
  3. Improve the access of women in rural areas of poor countries to formal and non-formal education
  4. Eliminate the perpetuation of sexual stereotypes, as part of the effort to improve the quality of education.

In order to accomplish this, CIM produced and designed material for a hemispheric campaign of awareness building and sensitization. The mentioned material includes: a book that discusses the educational status of women in the Americas and proposals for lines of action; a representative poster to be used during the campaign; a recording of micro-programs in order to conduct a radio campaign; and a guide with pointers for implementing the project. This material was distributed by the delegates of the CIM and also sent to all the permanent missions to the OAS, specialized organizations, and national offices of the OAS for information and dissemination purposes.

In the Area of the Human Rights of Women:

The CIM continues to be a leader in the human rights field and continues to promote the implementation of the objectives of the Convention of Belem do Para, in order to achieve its ratification by OAS member states. Mexico and Antigua and Barbuda ratified the Convention in November 1998, bringing the number of countries that have ratified it to 29. Since its adoption in the different member states, the number of countries that have enacted laws on domestic violence has substantially increased.

In compliance with Resolution AG/RES. 1456/97 (XXVII-0/97), the CIM submitted to the Twenty-ninth Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly the first biennial report on the follow-up of the "Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women". This report underscores the progress made by Member States on the application of the "Belem do Para" Convention, and the experiences and results they have obtained with the application of the different initiatives and programs to fight violence against women.

In addition, we continued with the distribution of the video "It Ain’t Love" – "No es Amor"-, produced by Olmos Productions Inc. It deals with the subject of violence in relationships between adolescent couples. This project was partially financed by the CIM, with a grant from the United States Government and consists of the production of an educational video and a study guide.

The CIM also collaborated with the IACHR Special Rapporteur in the preparation of a report on the fidelity of the regulation and practices of Member States in the area of women’s rights, to the inter-American human rights system. The findings of the research were presented in the "Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas" at the OAS General Assembly in June 1998, as part of the annual report of the IACHR.

The report ends with the recommendations of the Commission in regards to the elimination of discriminatory institutions that prevent the full exercise of women’s rights, an analysis of the consequences of this discrimination, and the development of initiatives to fulfill these recommendations within the regional system. Emphasis is placed on those targeting Member States in order to start as soon as possible to apply the legal remedies for domestic law identified by evaluation of Member States. The purpose is to identify and reform those practices and regulations that discriminate on grounds of gender, so that their effectiveness can be developed and strengthened.

The Commission is also participating in the campaign on violence against women promoted by the United Nations, along with UNIFEM, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and PAHO. Some meetings have already taken place to initiate formalization of the inter-agency collaboration. The objective is both to establish a forum for coordination and information on this issue, and also to build awareness in society of violence against women.

CIM is also participating as a co-sponsor and member of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Council on the Program for the Support of Women's Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD). We are participating in this effort with our partners in the UN system. Through this program, more than US$4 million will be provided to finance women’s leadership projects in the hemisphere. In 1998, the first request for proposal was issued, and more than 300 requests for funding were received. In November 1998, the Council selected 40 proposals, which received financing during the first cycle of activities. The Executive Committee of the CIM approved the allocation of US$30,000 of the 1998 regular budget of the CIM as an initial contribution to the program.

At its most recent regular session held in Guatemala in 1999, the OAS General Assembly approved resolution AG/RES. 1627(XXIX-0/99): "Appointment of women to senior management positions at the OAS", which urges the Secretary General to establish as an objective that, by the year 2005, women should occupy 50% of all positions in all categories of the OAS system, particularly at the P-4 grade-level and above. It also urges him to try to ensure that gender equality is given priority in efforts to introduce a new culture of management at the Organization.

Institutional Strengthening of CIM

CIM has undertaken work in the area of the promotion and institutional strengthening of the organization. This will enable it to better respond to today’s challenges, provide it with more visibility within the inter-American system and in the Member States, and will also facilitate development of cooperative intersectoral relationships.

As part of the institutional strengthening of the CIM, we will be convening meetings of women ministers and other senior level individuals dealing with gender policy in the countries. We will also be presenting a Draft Inter-American program on Women’s Rights and Gender Equity.

We have also begun a new phase of strengthening relations and collaboration with specialized UN agencies, and other institutions in the Inter-American system. We are especially collaborating in the areas of leadership, violence against women, and health. In addition, the Executive Committee has invited different agencies to participate in regular sessions of the Committee for the purpose of establishing contacts and identifying collaborative possibilities on issues of common interest.

Other Activities:

The need to strengthen and create national mechanisms for women is one of the mandates from the Second Summit of the Americas. However, the fact that these entities have been relegated to the bottom of the institutional hierarchy and the failure to allocate resources to them is a weakness that points out the need to give legitimacy to this topic. The following are examples of meetings held to address this:

  • Latin American Seminar on Women's Bureaus UNDP/UNFPA; Dominican Republic, April 6-8, 1999. This seminar was held for the purpose of sharing experiences on the main achievements, obstacles, and strategies related to the institutionalization of a gender focus in the public policies of Latin American countries and societies. To that end, three objectives have been established: 1) Defining the conceptual frame of reference on the roles and functions of women's secretariats and their relationships, from an organizational standpoint, with the State; 2) Successful strategies for the placement of women's bureaus and their links with other secretariats or ministries in order to achieve inclusion of a gender equity approach into their programs and budgets; 3) The placing of gender equity on the national agenda and in public opinion using the mass media.

  • Directory of National Entities Responsible for Policies and Programs pertaining to Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was developed by the ECLAC, in an effort to create awareness and to share experiences. The directory includes the national authorities’ work to the cause of gender equity and the specific programs of the ministries of foreign relations and other official entities dedicated to the topic at the sectoral level in each Member State of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

  • Within the context of the United Nations, there have been significant achievements. One was the approval on March 11, 1999, of the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which will be adopted by its General Assembly and opened for ratification on December 19. This is a specific instrument that allows women to submit correspondence to the CEDAW Committee when their rights enshrined in the Convention have been violated. This Convention will also facilitate the sending of information to the Committee so that an official investigation can be conducted into serious or systematic violations committed in the countries that are parties to the Protocol.

These are a few of the initiatives that are currently being undertaken. There will be a more comprehensive report presented by Nicaragua, coordinator of women’s issues for the Summit.

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