SECOND SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
FOLLOW-UP REPORT ON THE TOPIC OF WOMEN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. STRENGTHENING NATIONAL MECHANISMS TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUITY. Mandate/Actions
II. LEGAL EQUALITY FOR WOMEN. Mandate/Actions
III. STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE AMERICAS. Mandate/Actions
2.2.2 Rapporteur on Human Rights for Women
IV. WOMENS HEALTH POLICIES. Mandate/Actions
V. ERRADICATION OF POVERTY AND DISCRIMINATION
VI. PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED IN THE FULFILLMENT OF MANDATES AND SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDRESSING THEM
SECOND SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
FOLLOW-UP REPORT ON THE TOPIC OF WOMEN
COORDINATING COUNTRY: NICARAGUA
The Government of Nicaragua, in fulfillment of the commitments made at the Summits of the Americas, at international conferences, and in conventions, has the pleasure to submit for consideration by the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) the following provisional progress report.
STRENGTHENING NATIONAL MECHANISMS TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUITY
Strengthen and establish, where they do not exist, national mechanisms and governmental organs, as well as the respective regional and subregional networks in charge of promoting legal equality and equality of opportunities between women and men, focused on gender equity, and provide them with adequate and timely financial resources to enable these entities to promote, coordinate and carry out the commitments undertaken by the States at the World Conference on Human Rights, the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit on Social Development, the Summit of the Americas, the Fourth World Conference on Women, and the recent "Santiago Consensus" of the Seventh Regional Conference on Beijing Follow-up (ECLAC/UN).
The national womens organizations and mechanisms that currently exist in all the countries of the Hemisphere date back to the late 1970s. They were given different names, ranks, and structures, depending on the economic, social, and political situation in each country. Although institutional progress was made, as evidenced by the fact that in several countries they became Ministries of Womens Affairs, in some cases, they have not been incorporated into the formal State structure, which means that they play a different strategic role in terms of fostering gender equity in public policies.
The need to strengthen and create national mechanisms for women is one of the mandates emanating 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 to the need to give legitimacy to this topic within a state context, through the establishment of a leading policy-making and programming entity. For this reason, this topic continues to be addressed at different international fora in order to define and promote strategies aimed at achieving that objective.
1. Latin American Seminar on Womens Bureaus DGPM/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, which have been condensed into the need to exchange experiences on: 1) The conceptual frame of reference on the roles and functions of womens secretariats and their relationships, from an organizational standpoint, with the State; 2) Successful strategies for the placement of womens 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.
The following countries attended: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Spain. The seminar identified the challenges and topics pending in relation to equal opportunities and made the following recommendations aimed at: 1) Giving priority to state policies by seeking mechanisms to guarantee continuity of the topic of women when governments change; 2) Integrating womens bureaus into the pivotal areas of development and global reforms, by giving priority to inter-institutional coordination; 3) Explaining clearly the diversity among women and among womens institutional mechanisms in the State; 4) Making better use of opportunities that exist for international cooperation in order to overcome financial and technical limitations; 5) Learning to amass knowledge and define strategies by strengthening womens movements into a force that shapes citizens, and through the establishment of strategic alliances with other sectors; 6) Giving priority to the mass media as a vehicle and ally in the cultural movement towards gender equity, which guarantees long-term sustainability; 7) Reducing the risks of partisan action in the work of womens bureaus and the interaction between these bureaus and womens movements; 8) Continuing to develop joint work strategies between womens bureaus and movements.
2. Directory of National Entities Responsible for Policies and Programs pertaining to Women in Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
The directory includes the national authorities working to further the cause of women and 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). This directory has been published electronically and will be updated on an ongoing basis in the future. The aim is to facilitate the sharing of experiences in the countries of the region on the institutionalization of the topic of gender equity and development, and to provide them with an instrument for monitoring the progress being made with the objectives of establishing or strengthening the capacity of governments to formulate, coordinate, and evaluate public policies aimed at achieving gender equity and the permanent integration of those entities at the highest level of the State apparatus.
EGAL EQUALITY FOR WOMEN
and provide them with adequate and timely financial resources to enable these entities to promote, coordinate and carry out the commitments undertaken by the States at the World Conference on Human Rights, the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit on Social Development, the Summit of the Americas, the IV World Conference on Women, and the recent "Santiago Consensus" of the VII Regional Conference on Beijing Follow-up (ECLAC/UN).
The Santiago Plan of Action establishes, among the main national commitments, the promotion of the review of respective domestic laws in order to eliminate or amend those provisions that could lead to any kind of discrimination, for any reason, and which are at odds with international commitments. Priority is being given to the right to equal treatment in employment, ownership, succession, custody of minors, and combating domestic violence.
In this regard, at the national level, more changes have occurred in the past decade in the legal sphere to integrate women into economic and social development. Work has been done to eliminate discriminatory language within regulatory entities at all levels, codes and laws have been amended, and specific legislation has been approved on topics that affect women. Laws have been approved in order to ensure minimum quotas of political involvement of women.
Although national systems guarantee formal equality of rights under the law, which does not address actual inequality between men and women, sometimes the discrimination does not lie in the letter of the law, but in the interpretation of this law. Despite the progress noted in terms of the civil rights of women, full civil equality of women has not been achieved, for example, with respect to authorization to get married, inequality with regard to the acquisition, administration, and disposal of marital assets, differences in terms of parental authority, and restrictions on the right of women to property ownership in certain legal systems.
Regulations to protect womens rights exist in the international sphere; some are general in nature, while others are more specific.
CIM is the only government hemispheric forum that has been promoting these initiatives since the beginning of the century. The most recent initiative, in 1994, was the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women, the Convention of Belém do Pará. To date, it has been ratified by 29 of the 34 OAS member states. Among other important results, it has led to the amendment of domestic laws to achieve the objectives of the Convention, through the enactment of new legislation in this regard, or through the classification of violence as an offense.
In collaboration with the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD), and with a view to application to cases of family violence in particular, CIM developed a project for training instructors at judicial schools in Central America, which provides a gender-sensitive perspective in a judicial context, so that this perspective can be incorporated into courses, seminars, and workshops on the topic. The project includes the publication of a Manual Towards Genuine Equality, which is adapted to educational and cultural levels, and has been translated into the Mayan, Maya-quiché, and Katchiquel languages, for subsequent use by indigenous populations. Also, provisions have been made for the establishment and functioning of gender committees at judicial schools.
Within the context of the United Nations, there have been two 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, 1999. 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 or to send 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. Unlike the inter-American system, it calls for consent on the part of individuals or groups of individuals when action is being taken "on their behalf," except when "the person taking the action can justify doing so on their behalf, without their consent."
The other is the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, (July 17, 1998, "United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court"). For the first time, there was recognition in a legally binding statute that sexual assault can constitute a war crime or a crime against humanity, instead of a crime against the dignity of persons as was set forth in international humanitarian law prior to that date. In addition, it includes the crime of forced pregnancy, forced sterilization, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, and other forms of sexual violence, and the establishment of structures and processes for the protection of victims and witnesses. It will take effect upon receipt of the deposit of the sixtieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession. As of August 12, 1999, there were eighty-four signatory countries and four ratifications of this instrument.
STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE AMERICAS
Implement and follow up on the commitments regarding the status of women as agreed to at the Summit of the Americas, with the support of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), in collaboration with civil society, with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and other entities of international cooperation, using when appropriate the System of Indicators adopted by the countries of the Americas at Montelimar, Nicaragua.
1. System of Indicators
1.1 Gender Indicators for Follow-up and Evaluation of Programs of Action for Women in Latin America and the Caribbean Montelimar, Nicaragua
Nicaragua, in its capacity as Coordinator of Topic 18 of the First Summit of the Americas, promoted the compilation of a "System of Indicators applicable to the contents of Topic 18." At the First Technical Hemispheric Meeting held in Montelimar, Nicaragua in 1997, they were submitted for consideration by the countries with the understanding that the second phase would involve their implementation.
The basis of this was that the indicators were supposed to constitute a suitable follow-up mechanism for evaluating the progress made, in an objective and comparative manner. They were also considered to be a way of achieving more rigorous adherence to summit implementation and detecting changes as they occur.
1.2 "Gender Indicators for Follow-up and Evaluation of the Regional Program of Action for Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1995-2001 and the Beijing Platform for Action" (ECLAC, 1999)
For the same purpose, that is, to have a specific instrument that permits identification of progress and the weaknesses of the situation with respect to the countries of the region, ECLAC prepared a system of indicators that enables monitoring and evaluation of regional and international agreements related to improving the situation of women and gender equity, while facilitating and orienting the compilation of quantitative data on both men and women, and their subsequent analysis through the application of a gender focus to development. The proposed indicators were defined in order to measure precisely the changes noted over time and to permit comparisons among countries. In all relevant cases, this was done for both sexes, and in some cases, emphasis was placed on the gap between the two, rather than the level of one or the other.
The system of indicators developed by the Government of Nicaragua and the gender indicators of ECLAC focus on many common areas. The indicators proposed by ECLAC pertain to the twelve topics covered by the Beijing Platform of Action. Ten of those areas (poverty, education, health, violence, armed conflict, the economy, participation in decision-making and mechanisms that further the cause of women, human rights, and children) are covered in the indicators of Nicaragua. Only two areas, women in the media and the environment were not covered.
The ECLAC indicators identify the objectives, the pertinent section of the Beijing Platform of Action, the ECLAC Regional Program of Action, the Summit of the Americas, possible statistical sources, methods of analysis to be followed, levels of objectives, and results. Indicators were selected based on the availability of sources of information in most Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as the comparability of data. The Governments will use the indicators as they see fit and may incorporate additional studies based on individual needs or areas of interest.
2. Activities conducted within CIM
In April 1998, the Second Summit of the Americas that took place in Santiago, Chile 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 fulfillment of the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas, the Executive Committee of CIM approved the preparation of education projects with a gender focus.
2.1.1 The project "Educational Status of Women in the Americas," which contains an analysis of the current educational status of women, was carried out. 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, which seek to achieve the following: 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 weakness in the formal education of female adults and elderly persons; 3) Achieve access to formal and non-formal education by women living in the rural areas of poor countries; and 4) Eliminate the perpetuation of sexual stereotypes, as part of the effort to improve the quality of education. Based on this, material was produced and designed for developing within CIM a hemispheric campaign of awareness-building and sensitization. Project materials consist of 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 public service announcements in order to conduct a radio campaign, and a guide with pointers for implementing the project and using the materials. All the material was distributed for use by the delegates. It was also sent to all the permanent missions of the OAS, specialized organizations, and national offices of the OAS for information and dissemination..
2.1.2 In October 1998, the first phases of development of the project "Educational Program and Family Support" was completed. Its objective is to strengthen family unity in low-income families by means of education, social support, and personal development. This project is designed to produce a multiplier effect in the participating countries, based on the drafting of an integrated model of social services for low-income families in Latin America.
2.2. Human Rights of Women
CIM continues to promote the implementation of the objectives of the Convention of Belém do Pará 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 risen considerably.
In compliance with Resolution AG/RES. 1456/97 (XXVII-0/97) "Promotion of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, the Convention of "Belém do Pará", CIM submitted the first biennial report on follow-up of this Convention to the Twenty-ninth Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly. This report underscores the progress made in member states with the application of the Convention, and the experiences and results obtained by means of the initiatives and programs conducted to combat violence against women.
The free promotion and distribution in English of the project "It Aint Love," produced by Olmos Productions Inc., was continued. It deals with the subject of violence in relationships between adolescent couples. This project was partially financed by CIM and the Government of the United States and consists of the production of an educational video and a study guide.
2.2.2 Rapporteur on Human Rights for Women
CIM collaborated with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) Special Rapporteur in the preparation of a report on adherence by Members States to the laws and practices in the area of womens rights to inter-American human rights regulations. The findings of the research were presented by the Rapporteur in the Report of the IACHR on the Status of Women in the Americas at the OAS General Assembly in June 1998, as part of the annual report of the CIDH.
The report ends with the recommendations of the Commission with regard to the elimination of discriminatory institutions that prevent the full exercise by women of their rights, the consequences of this discrimination, and the development of initiatives to fulfill these objectives within the regional system. It urges the member states to undertake inmediate action to identify and reform legislation and practices that are aimed at or intended to discriminate on grounds of gender. It is crucial that the member states evaluate the legal remedies provided for in domestic laws, so that their effectiveness can be developed and strengthened.
The Rapporteur recommended that this year the Commission focus on the topic of womens rights in the area of the problem of violence against women and on the use of the mechanisms of the inter-American system of human rights against this violence.
Three works linked to the topic of violence against women were published:
The Commission is participating in the campaign on violence against women and in favor of the human rights promoted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Meetings have been held to begin formalization of inter-agency collaboration. This campaign was started in 1997 to prepare for the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its objective is to build awareness in society in general of violence against women, to sensitize governments with regard to the development of and/or changes in policies, legislation, and practices to prevent violence and to strengthen the capacity of governments and womens organizations, in order to receive effective support in lessening the problem of violence. Furthermore, it seeks to establish a forum for coordination and information on violence against women and children.
2.3 Participation of Women in Power Structures and Decision-making
2.3.1 CIM started its activities as co-sponsor and member of the Council of the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) Program for the Support of Womens Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD), in conjunction with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Through this program, more than US$4 million will be provided to finance leadership projects in the Hemisphere. In July 1998, the first request for proposal was issued. More than 300 proposals were received. In November 1998, the Council selected 40 proposals, which received financing during the first cycle of activities. The Executive Committee approved the allocation of US$30,000 of the 1998 budget of CIM as an initial contribution to the Program. The PROLEAD Council will meet in October 1999 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the President and Executive Secretary of CIM will attend this meeting.
2.3.2 The "CIM Plan of Action on the Participation of Women in Power Structures and Decision-Making," emanating from the Inter-American Consultation Meeting on this topic, held in Washington, D.C. in February 1998, contains strategies proposed by CIM to achieve parity in the exercise of power, and urges CIM delegates to implement these initiatives in their respective countries.
2.3.3 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 a goal, that women should occupy 50% of positions by the year 2005, in all categories of the OAS system, particularly at the P-4 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 within the Organization.
2.4. Institutional Strengthening of CIM
CIM has undertaken work in the area of institutional strengthening which will enable it to respond better to todays challenges, will provide it with visibility in terms of other entities and member states, and will facilitate development of cooperative intersectoral relations. The actions conducted in this regard are indicated below.
The Assembly approved Resolution CIM/RES 209 (XXIX-0/98) "Strengthening and Modernization of CIM," which establishes measures and strategies that will be implemented during the biennium to achieve that objective. This includes the preparation of a Draft Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Womens Rights and Gender Equity, pursuant to resolution AG/RES. 1592/98 (XXVIII-0/98) "Status of Women in the Americas and Strengthening of the Inter-American Commission of Women," and the holding of a meeting of ministers or senior officials responsible for the promotion of womens policies in member states. At its first regular session of the CIM Executive Committee for the 1998-2000 period, it was decided that the agenda for that meeting will include approval of the above-mentioned Draft Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Womens Rights and Gender Equity.
The XXIX Assembly of Delegates approved the "Plan of Operations for the Institutional Strengthening of CIM," which analyzes the situation of CIM with respect to new challenges that currently exist, and makes proposals on the possibility of creating leadership with regard to the formulation of strategies agreed upon to achieve greater equity in relations between women and men in the region, within the OAS, and in member states.
2.5. Relationship with Non-governmental Organizations and with Other International Organizations
2.5.1 The valuable support of non-governmental organizations has been recognized by international organizations. Within the OAS, there is currently a working group within the Permanent Council that is analyzing the possibility for the ongoing participation of these organizations. In practice, they have been invited to participate as observers at assemblies and specialized meetings of the OAS. The specialized agencies of the OAS have also collaborated with them in developing programs and projects in their respective areas of interest.
In general terms, insofar as womens affairs are concerned, new mechanisms for participation by the civil society have been strengthened, leading to cooperative interaction between the State and non-governmental organizations, a process that has led to a better understanding of the problems that affect women and to active and meaningful involvement by the private sector.
In this regard, CIM, with the support of the Principal Delegates, is preparing a data base with the ten biggest NGOs in each country. This will permit the establishment of ongoing contact for the exchange of information and successful experiences with them. Furthermore, this will facilitate analysis of possible participation by some of the NGOs as observers at CIM meetings.
2.5.2 CIM has started a new phase of strengthening relations and collaboration with UN specialized agencies, as discussed throughout this report, in particular in the area of leadership, violence against women, and health, and has, in addition, invited agencies to participate in regular sessions of the Executive Committee with a view to establishing contacts and possibilities for working cooperatively to develop topics of common interest.
2.5.3 In compliance with the mandates of the XXIX Assembly of Delegates, the President has established contact with similar organizations in the
European Union, with the aim of creating ongoing contact that permits the forging of new alliances and a source of information on progress noted in Europe in matters that pertain to women.
3. Other Activities
In October 1998, the U.S. Government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) co- sponsored the "Vital Voices of the Americas" conference in Montevideo, Uruguay. Part of an on- going global democracy initiative of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of State Madelaine Albright, the Montevideo conference brought together more than 300 women leaders from a diversity of social and political sectors throughout the Hemisphere. These leaders came together to examine the status of women and develop strategies for advancing women in democracy in the first hemispheric conference of its, kind. The conference themes of law and leadership, politics and public life, and economic integration and business growth were drawn from the goals set out in the Santiago Summit Plan of Action. The Montevideo conference themes have inspired a wide array of follow-up projects and activities, ranging from Increasing women's political participation and reforming legal codes and judicial procedures, to heightening awareness about domestic violence and developing micro-credit organizations to support women entrepreneurs.
WOMENS HEALTH POLICIES
Promote policies designed to improve women's health conditions and the quality of health services at every stage of their lives.
The recent impetus received as a result of health policy and social security reform (RSS) in the entire Region has lead to widespread discussion of the effects of these policies on equity in health and human development. However, the debate has focused on territorial dimensions and social strata and so far has not incorporated a gender perspective. This has led to a vacuum in policies to correct gender inequities that were created or exacerbated by RSS and that cannot be remedied by applying the same measures used to narrow the gap between socio-economic levels and geographic regions.
The objective proposed by the Pan American Health Organization is the inclusion of gender equity criteria in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of reform policies related to health and social security in order to ensure gender equity in four areas of health:
1. Gender equity in the access to and utilization of services: This does not involve equity in the provision of services, but rather access to quality services that respond to the different and specific needs of men and women.
2. Gender equity in financing care; that is, the contribution by men and women in accordance with their capability rather than the extent of their need: It means that women should not pay more than men to protect their health as is presently occurring in sliding-scale systems of financing. Women pay more than men because they require more care over their lifetime, because of their reproductive function, greater morbidity, and the fact that they live longer. This payment is greater not only in absolute terms, but also in relation to their income, especially when it is borne in mind that the income of women is 70% that of men.
3. Gender equity in the distribution of charges and benefits, in responsibilities, and in authority relating to the management of health within the family, community, and health system. Women do most of the work in the area of health care: within the family, free of charge, in the community as volunteers, and in the health system where they are concentrated in low-paying positions that lack prestige and authority.
4. Gender equity in health status seeks to reduce the unjust, avoidable, and unnecessary differences between men and women in the areas of illness, death, or disability. For this reason, emphasis is placed on preventable causes.
Based on the regional consultations of PAHO, work is beginning on the definition of a group of basic indicators to measure and monitor the status of women and gender inequities in the areas of health described above.
ERRADICATION OF POVERTY AND DISCRIMINATION
Poverty continues to be one of the most pressing issues in most of the countries of the Hemisphere, and it is a powerful mechanism for exclusion from the participatory entities of society. The alarming trend seen in poverty in the region grows even more ominous when the different sectors of the population are considered separately.
Although similar processes affect men and women, there are others that have a clear gender bias: poverty is a different experience for men and women, and has its roots in the subordination and inequality to which women are subjected as a result of the division of roles that are established socially and culturally. The existing inequalities between men and women make women more vulnerable to poverty and limits the resources within their reach to combat it.
The persistent segmentation of the labor market in male and female occupations steers women towards female-dominated employment, which in general is low-paying (domestic service, commerce and agroindustry, and the informal sector of the economy). This limitation has an even greater negative effect on women in rural areas where the number of jobs is lower and rates of illiteracy are higher.
Women are more affected by unemployment. Add to this inadequate social security coverage, which excludes the informal sector, and is one that is comprised largely of women.
With regard to the situation of women in rural areas, despite the fact that they have a long-standing tradition of participation in agriculture and rural development, they continue to be invisible, which places them at a greater disadvantage in context of the rural poor, a position that is exacerbated by legal and cultural restrictions that still exist and limit their access to property ownership and credit. The main consequence of this situation is the poverty that currently affects women in rural areas, which is heightened by their inadequate access to productive resources, as a result of unequal and inequitable gender relations.
CIM and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) participated jointly in the execution of the project for the integration of rural women, presented at the VII Conference of Wives of Heads of State and Government of the Americas. This draft, which was approved by the First Ladies, was also presented to the Ministers of Agriculture at the meeting held October 13-16, 1997 in Santiago, Chile. Its aim is to help reverse the current conditions of rural women, and to support and encourage efforts to improve their position in the process of development of the rural environment in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1998, the project received the financial support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and in October 1998, CIM co-financed the Forum on Rural Women in the Twenty-first Century, held by the IICA in Panama, under the auspices of the First Lady of that country.
CIM is also co-sponsoring the Womens Economic Summit of the Americas, which will take place November 11-13, 1999, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will bring together women leaders in the business, entrepreneurial, and professional areas of the Americas, in order to explore and share strategies for increasing their commercial and entrepreneurial work in the Hemisphere, and for strengthening further the commercial and entrepreneurial ties that were established earlier. The Economic Summit will also provide: information on women in the economic market in the region, basic information on commercial agreements and their effect on the ability of women to conduct business in the region and world, training in the use of technology to increase the capacity of a business to engage in transborder commerce, and practical sessions to provide commercial opportunities to participants.
PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED IN THE FULFILLMENT OF MANDATES AND SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDRESSING THEM
Three topics are common to all areas: 1) The insufficient inclusion of a gender perspective in public policies; 2) the absence of women in decision-making positions; 3) the dearth of statistics broken down by gender that permit a realistic and precise evaluation of the problems affecting women so that appropriate strategies can be planned; 4) inadequate human and material resources.
Although progress has been made in strengthening womens organizations, the difficulty in incorporating policies aimed at equality between men and women into public policies persists. The reasons identified are the dearth of funds allocated to this area, institutional weakness, and insufficient institutional inclusion of this topic in a State context, which limits its consideration in matters addressed by governments.
CIM, whose strengthening was apparent since the first Summit of the Americas, needs to continue to receive the support of governments so that it can attain the objectives assigned to it as the sole inter-American womens forum capable of promoting international legislation on topics that affect women.
In the employment sphere, discrimination in wages and access to training persists, in a situation where ongoing training is required of workers. In these circumstances, the importance of globalization as a mechanism to enable economies to achieve greater levels of economic and social growth and development runs the risk of being diminished by the impact that it can have on the status of women. There must be a reversal of trends that are noted, which can have a negative impact on integration into the vast world offered by the globalization that is under way. Advantage must be taken of the opportunities that this globalization offers for integration, and steps must be taken to ensure that the massive integration of women into the labor market, despite the limitations indicated, is transformed into a powerful mechanism for the shaping of citizens.
For the reasons indicated above, women have greater difficulty gaining access to health services, since most of these services are linked to employment, where their numbers are fewer.
Womens rights appear on the agendas of States, which have implemented reforms that affect their legal, social, economic, and political status. Despite this, obstacles remain to full equality in terms of the civil capacity of women in relation to men and the alignment of domestic laws with the commitments made at the international level, in particular in the area of violence and discrimination against women.
Lastly, there are obstacles that prevent discussion of gender equity in education. Educational systems continue to perpetuate stereotypes on the role of the sexes in society. Women continue to have lower levels of schooling than men and higher rates of illiteracy. This hinders their access to employment and to opportunities to increase their earning power, and impedes their inclusion in the process of development.[SIRG/1999/XVII/tracker.htm][SIRG/1999/XVII/tracker.htm]