FIRST MINISTERIAL MEETING                                        OEA/Ser.L/II.7.8

ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN                                           CIM/MINIS/doc.9/00

27 - 28 April, 2000                                                                27 April 2000

Washington, D.C.                                                                   Original: Spanish




Taking advantage of the technological resources, I did not want to miss the opportunity to "virtually" be with you all. As you already know, at this time Mexico is going through an electoral period, due to the upcoming presidential election. Because of the intense campaign activities I will not be able to participate in this important Meeting of Ministers and Highest-Ranking Authorities Responsible for the Advancement of Women, convoked by the General Assembly of the OAS in response to an initiative of the Inter-American Commission of Women and held at OAS headquarters.

I sincerely apologize for my absence and take the opportunity to thank the invaluable work done in Washington by the Permanent Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission of Women, under the coordination of Carmen Lomellin. Without her effort, it would have been impossible for me to combine my activities in Mexico and my responsibilities as President of the Commission.

I also want to thank Dr. Cesar Gaviria, Secretary General of the OAS for his cooperation in organizing this Meeting, and I also would like to send a warm greeting to all the participants: Ambassadors, Ministers, and all CIM Delegates.

Today, common goal bring us together: the struggle to achieve gender equity and equality of opportunities for men and women. To reach these objectives, it is necessary to implement a series of measures to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages that make it impossible for women and men to equally enjoy the benefits of development and the access, in equal conditions, to the decision-making processes, both, in public and private spheres, and the access to power. The Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women Human Rights and Gender Equality, which will be approved during these two days of work, has, as its objective, the promotion of this process.

The implementation of this Inter-American Program implies the cooperation of the OAS Member States, and the organs, organisms and entities of the Inter-American System. It will be a joint international and horizontal cooperation effort among the countries of the Hemisphere, regional and international organisms and civil society organizations.

We trust that the approval of this Program will open new opportunities for women in our countries, since it will systematically integrate the gender perspective in all the organisms of the Inter-American System, and also in the Plan of Action of the Third Summit of the Americas, to be held in Quebec, Canada, in April 2001.

Finally, I want to wish you success in the activities you are about to undertake today and tomorrow. I will pay close attention to the results of this meeting and to the resolutions that you approve, and will give them proper follow up.

I send you a warm greeting from Mexico. Thank you very much.