Women

The Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), established in 1928 at the Sixth International Conference of American States, is a the Specialized Organ of the Organization of American States which focuses on Women's issues in the Americas.  It is the first official intergovernmental agency created expressly to ensure recognition of the civil and political rights of women in the member countries, first not only in the region, but in the world.

The Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence Against Women, also known as the Convention of Belém Do Pará, signed by the member States in June of 1994 operates as the key document for the CIM.

1. First Summit of the Americas, Miami, U.S.A. (December 1994)

The Declaration of Principles of the Miami Summit calls for "strengthening the role of Women in all aspects of political, social and economic life in our countries is essential to reduce poverty and social inequalities and to enhance democracy and sustainable development".

 Initiative 18 of the Miami Plan of Action, "Strengthening the Role of Women in Society", states that  strengthening "the role of women in society is of fundamental importance not only for their own complete fulfillment within a framework of equality and fairness, but to achieve true sustainable development. It is essential to strengthen policies and programs that improve and broaden the participation of women in all spheres of political, social, and economic life and that improve their access to the basic resources needed for the full exercise of their fundamental rights. Attending to the needs of women means, to a great extent, contributing to the reduction of poverty and social inequalities".

The Plan states that Governments will undertake the following action:

2. Between the Summits (January 1995- March 1998)

The Following information, published in April 1998 by the United States Government, is extracted from the book, Words into Deeds, Progress Since the Miami Summit:

Major progress has been achieved on women’s rights, particularly in the legal area. Numerous countries have changed their electoral codes to increase female participation in elections and, therefore, in political decision-making. At least seven countries have adopted the approach of establishing quotas for female participation in elections. Many national plans to achieve equality for women have been established, in some cases at the ministerial level, and assertive steps have been taken by many governments to improve the education and training of women. In a number of countries the percentage of women in senior political positions has increased substantially, particularly in cabinets and legislatures. Several countries have improved penal codes to protect women and girls from violence, abuse, and discrimination. In addition, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, the "Convention of Belém do Pará", came into force on March 5, 1995, and has been ratified by 26 governments since the Summit. The OAS and PAHO have implemented several programs to benefit women, and the U.S. Agency for International Development has funded projects to increase the participation of women in political decision-making and to enhance economic opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Although full equality of women and men remains to be achieved, and despite such problems as the serious underrepresentation of women in senior military and economic policy positions, achievements since the Summit constitute a major advance that augurs well for the future.

(For the full text of Words Into Deeds, including the important section on strengthening the role of women in society, click here).

The Inter-American Commission of Women has designed training projects for administration of justice and police personnel in order to make them aware of the provisions of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women. The CIM has translated the text of this Convention into Aymara, Creole, Dutch, Guaraní, and Quechua.

CIM has strengthened its cooperative relationship with PAHO on a range of issues of importance to women. Moreover, it has agreed with the IDB and UNICEF to carry out joint activities and projects on the participation of women in the decision-making process in both the public and private sectors.

CIM continues the implementation of its Strategic Plan of Action, presented at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China, September, 1995.

The Pan-American Health Organization’s Regional Program on Women, Health and Development (HDW) on women’s issues. The Program has four objectives:

  1. To strengthen Member Countries' capacity to formulate, implement and evaluate health policies, programs and projects in a manner that contributes to gender equity;
  2. To support initiatives that contribute to the generation of scientifically sound information on: i) health conditions that are specific to women or that have a differential impact on the two sexes; and ii) the role of men and women in health work;
  3. To strengthen the collaboration, in a spirit of reciprocal learning, between organizations that advocate for gender equity and the public health sector in Member Countries;
  4. To strengthen the capacity of the Pan American Health Organization to effectively catalyze gender-sensitive policies and programs in Member Countries.

PAHO has a comprehensive Internet site for the Regional Program on Women, Health and Development (HDW), which also contains a list of Internet Resources on Women’s Issues.

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