Ninth Conference of Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas



Ottawa, Canada, October 1, 1999


We, the Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas and
Government Delegates gathered in Ottawa, Canada from September 29 to October 1, 1999 for our Ninth Conference, "Women of the Americas: Agents of Change,"in reaffirmation of our will and determination to contribute to the
well-being of the people of our nations, subscribe to the following Declaration:

|1. We consider that the Conferences of Spouses of Heads of State and
Government of the Americas represent a unique opportunity to foster the
exchange of ideas, build hemispheric cooperation and integrate the efforts
of our respective countries in the fight against poverty for the full
enjoyment of equal rights and opportunities for all.

2. With the advent of the new millennium, all countries of the
hemisphere will face common challenges and will share common social
development goals. We reaffirm our determination to approach these
objectives in a vigorous and integrated way with the participation, and for
the benefit, of all sectors of society.

3. We firmly believe that it is imperative to focus our efforts on
behalf of those who are the most vulnerable, who continue to face the
obstacles arising from discrimination and injustice.

4. On the basis of the existing global and hemispheric consensus on
social development goals, we recognize the achievements attained to date and
the need to consolidate them. We reaffirm our common will to pursue these
goals, giving priority to those human groups most in need of support and to
the problems and social services that require further attention.

5. We recognize the need for enhanced participation of civil society,
and women in particular, with regard to the measures aimed at the political,
social, economic and cultural development of our countries

6. We reiterate our commitment to the previous Declarations subscribed
to by the Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas and we
recognize their continuing validity.

7. We reiterate our commitment to continue working for the equity and
empowerment of women, particularly those in rural areas. We acknowledge the
significant progress made in establishing regional and national plans in
support of rural women and we endorse the proposed cooperation fund
developed for the implementation of such plans.

8. We continue to strive toward the promotion of better health through
preventive measures, the reduction of violence, and more equitable access to
health care services. We praise the achievement of those countries that have
successfully eliminated measles and other preventable diseases within their
borders and encourage the continued efforts of others to meet our common
goal of eradicating measles throughout the Americas by the year 2000.

9. We reiterate our support for the promotion of the well-being of
women and children. We recognize that many fundamental issues still need
attention, including those related to reproductive health, the prevention of
violence, equitable access to appropriate health services, and comprehensive
early childhood development programs. Therefore, our themes for this year's
conference are: "A Healthy Start: Investing in Children 0 to 6" and "Women's

10. We declare our firm intention to continue to raise awareness and
mobilize public support in our societies on behalf of effective local
initiatives to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, particularly among women,
adolescents, and children.

11. We support the inalienable, immutable and universally recognized
rights of children to receive love, protection and understanding from their
parents and to develop spiritually and socially, independently of cultural
and political circumstances.

12. We declare our firm commitment to support programs which improve the
accessibility and quality of perinatal care services by raising public
awareness, training health care providers, strengthening community
participation, and taking actions to increase collaboration and mobilization
of public opinion on these matters.

13. We are conscious that all children have the right to a name and
nationality through birth registration. Therefore, we declare our firm
support for the strengthening of systems which guarantee full, timely,
accessible and accurate registration of children.

14. We support all efforts to reduce mortality and morbidity due to
preventable diseases and nutritional deficiencies among children under five
years of age.

15. We acknowledge and affirm the need to guarantee the right of
children to education and quality educational services. Therefore, we
support the development of comprehensive programs for the professional
training of early childhood educators and the strengthening of coordination
and information networks between educational institutions.

16. We recognize the need to educate children in a culture of peace in
order to prevent violence and enable them to grow and flourish with values
and principles conducive to the creation of a safe and secure environment.

17. We recognize the invaluable role played by regional and national
non-governmental organizations and international co-operation agencies in
supporting and facilitating the implementation of the initiatives set forth
in this Declaration and we extend to them our sincere gratitude.

18. We express our gratitude to the spouse of the Prime Minister of
Canada, Mrs. Aline Chrétien, and to the people and the Government of Canada,
for the kind hospitality extended during our stay.

19. We accept the offer of the spouse of the President of Haiti, Mrs.
Géri Benoît-Préval, to host in her country the Tenth Conference of Spouses
of Heads of State and Government of the Americas.

This Declaration is signed in four original languages: English, French,
Spanish, and Portuguese in the City of Ottawa on October 1, 1999.