Updated August 3, 2001

Second Summit of the Americas:  WOMEN 

PAHO: Women, Health and Development


World Bank


Canadian International Developmnt Agency


At the Second Summit in Santiago, the Heads of State and of Government agreed that the Governments of the hemisphere should:

Vital Voices of the Americas: Women in Democracy Conference

The United States Government and the Inter-American Development Bank organized the Conference Vital Voices of the Americas: Women in Democracy, which was held in Montevideo, Uruguay October 1 - 3, 1998. Vital Voices convened approximately four hundred women leaders from the public and private sectors in order to build networks with other leaders in the hemisphere. All countries of the Summit of the Americas process participated. The principal themes of the conference were drawn from the goals set out in the Santiago Summit Plan of Action. For further information, please click Vital Voices, Women in Democracy.

Inter-American Commission of Women

In accordance with the mandates from the second Summit of the Americas, the Management Committee of the Inter-American Commission of Women, at its fifth regular session in Washington D.C. held June 10 to 12, 1998, approved the preparation of two education projects with a gender focus. The first, "Educational Status of Women in the Americas", is intended to develop a campaign of sensitization and awareness on this issue. The second is a project to provide law school teachers in Central America with training on the gender-sensitive perspective in legal affairs, so that they can incorporate this into their courses, seminars or workshops. The project includes the production of a manual, "Towards True Quality", which has been adapted for various educational and cultural levels and has been translated into the Mayan, Maya-Quich� and Katchiquel languages for subsequent use among indigenous peoples. It also calls for the establishment of gender committees in law schools.

29th Assembly of Delegates of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM)

The Inter-American Commission of Women held its 29th Assembly of Delegates from November 16 to 18, 1998 at the Washington headquarters of the OAS.  During the meeting, the Delegates approved 15 Resolutions plus the Declaration of Santo Domingo.

Discussions during the meeting centered on strengthening and modernizing the CIM, and on how to cooperate with other international organizations in order to achieve global equity among women and men.  In addition, the Delegates approved the Commission's Two-year Work Program which follows the mandates contained in the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas.

Noteworthy of the 15 Resolutions which were approved are the following:

During the Assembly, the next Executive Committee of CIM was elected to serve for the 1998- year 2000 period; the following member State representatives were elected to serve on the Committee:

In February 1999, the Inter-American Commission on Women (CIM) published the final version of the report of the Special Rapporteur for the Status of Women in the Americas, adopted by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on March 6, 1998, and based on a questionnaire sent to all states in the Hemisphere.

In the report, the Commission concluded that States should seek to eliminate de facto and de jure discrimination, which prevents women from fully exercising their rights.  They also analyzed the consequences of such discrimination and the development of initiatives to fulfill such objectives with the regional system. Noteworthy among the central recommendations were those directed to the member states to initiate immediate action to identify and reform legislation and practices that have the purpose or effect of discriminating on the basis of gender.   The report recommended that States seek legal remedies and create domestic legislation that would develop and strengthen their accessibility and effectiveness.

With respect to Women’s Participation in Power and Decision-making Structures, the CIM cofinanced the first meeting of the Caribbean sub-region on "Women in Politics," organized by the network of Nongovernmental Organizations for the Advancement of Women in Trinidad and Tobago and held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on May 11-13, 1998.

Organized by the UPD and the Andean Parliament with support from the CIM, a Seminar-Workshop for Young Women Leaders in the Andean Region was held in Cuenca, Ecuador, from November 29 to December 8, 1998, on democratic institutions, values, and practices. The course included an analysis of the women's current challenges with respect to democracy.

Another noteworthy project is "Profiles of Health and Quality of Life from a Gender Perspective in the Mexico-USA Border Area," conducted jointly by the CIM and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).   Culminated in 1998, it provided gender-specific information regarding the repercussions of world economic integration on health and human development in border areas.

In its first biannual report, presented in April 1999, the CIM evaluated the achievements the Convention of Bel�m do Par� during the first decade.   It also presented the achievements of initiatives and programs carried out in the Member States in respect to violence against women.  The most outstanding are:

Likewise, the report makes reference to the obstacles that are still to be overcome, in particular, national organizations' needs for resources to develop and carry out proper work plans.

XXIX OAS General Assembly

At the XXIX Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, celebrated on June 6-8, 1999 in Guatemala, the resolution "Status of women in the Americas and Strengthening and Modernization of the Interamerican Commission of Women" was approved.  The resolution calls for a meeting of Ministers or high level officials, responsible for policies regarding women in the Members States, to be held during the first quarter of the year 2000.

The General Assembly has also approved a resolution through which "Governments who still haven't done so are encouraged to ratify the Inter-American Convention for prevention, sanctioning and eradication of violence against women, Bel�m do Par� Convention".

The CIM Executive Committee met from June 30 to July 2, 1999.  In this meeting, Nicaragua, as Responsible Coordinator for Women, was asked to submit the report concerning the implementation of the Summit mandate on women. This report should take into account the Montelimar indicators and the CEPAL's gender indicators. Nicaragua was also asked to coordinate a meeting to produce the advance report and proposals for the Third Summit of the Americas to be held in the year 2001. (For more information on CEPAL's activities on gender issues, click here)

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

Between September 29 and October 1st, 1999, the IX Conference of Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas was held in Ottawa, Canada.   The Conference was centered on two themes, "A Healthy Start: Investing in Children 0 - 6", and "Women’s Health".  Calgary University made a presentation on Telehealth and international organizations such as UNICEF, the World Bank, and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) also made presentations at the Conference. In its presentation, PAHO refered to its program on Women, Health and Development.

For the first time, the Conference of Spouses of Heads of State and Government included a parallel program of activities for organizations of civil society, and sponsored a fair at which were represented NGOs from all countries participating in the conference that are active in issues of early childhood development and women's health.

The Conference produced the "Ottawa Declaration", which reaffirms the Spouses' commitment to improve living conditions in the Hemisphere, gives priority to improving conditions for marginalized and vulnerable groups, focuses social services problems, and recognizes the importance of participation by civil society organizations to help facilitate and implement the initiatives of the Declaration.   For more information, please see the Canadian Government's site on the Conference, or the mirror site on the Summit of the Americas Information Network at http://www.summit-americas.org/Women/Spouses.htm

United Nations System

Women from Rural Zones

On October 4, 1999, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations held a meeting of High Level Consultations on Rural Women and Information in Rome, Italy. For more information please click here.

It is also important to take into account the activities carried out by the United Nations Development Fund for Women UNIFEM, specially in the area of the use of the UN Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (For more information click here). Another important source of information is the Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network

The Woman in the year 2000

The Special Session of the UN General Assembly, " The Woman in the year 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace in the XXI Century",   took place in New York , June 5-9, 1999 in the headquarters of the UN.  It reviewed whether governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector have fulfilled the commitments made at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.  From September to December 1999, Women Watch held the Beijing +5 Global Forum, a series of Internet Working Groups to provide input into the UN review. Government representatives, activists, academics, private sector representatives and many others shared their experiences and ideas for achieving women's equality.  This input directly fed into the General Assembly's assessment of progress and the recommendations that it makes for further actions.  The Working Groups discussed policies, legislation, strategies and partnerships that were successful in furthering women's equality, case studies, best practices and other examples of successful government and civil society efforts, and obstacles to success.  In this opportunity, civil society organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean presented a political Declaration (Spanish only) (For further information click here).


The CIM began its activities as co-sponsor and member of the Board of the Program for the Support of Women�s Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD) of the Inter-American Development Bank. This three year initiative aims to promote women�s leadership through a principal strategy of grants to diverse, competent, organizations that work to advance women�s active participation and leadership. Through this program, more than US$4 million will be provided to finance leadership projects in the Hemisphere. In July 1998, the first call for project proposals was held, and more than 300 proposals were received. PROLEAD has awarded its grants under six proposed strategies: Community Leadership, Good Governance and Civic Education, Political Leadership, Economic and Business Leadership, Young Women�s Leadership, and Indigenous and Black Women�s Leadership.

World Bank

At this web site http://genderstats.worldbank.org/menu.asp you will find a database of gender statistics by country on:


Governments of the region met in Lima, Peru, Feb. 8 to 10, under the aegis of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) to assess women's progress in achieving equality of opportunity and respect for their human rights. The Eighth Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean was a regional meeting in preparation for the Beijing + 5 World Forum, which is to consider the commitments accepted by governments in 1995 during the Fourth World Conference on Women. In addition to the member states of ECLAC, the meeting was attended by inter-governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations recognized as advisory bodies by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Since 1977, the Regional Conference has been meeting to identify the needs of women in Latin America and the Caribbean, to present recommendations and assess compliance with regional and international agreements. Currently, the Regional Conference is chaired by Chile, while the vice-chairs are from the Netherlands Antilles, Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Paraguay and Venezuela.

Third Regular Session of the Executive Committee of the CIM

From January 20-21, 2000, the Executive Committee of the CIM held their Third Regular Session in Washington D.C. Stemming from the mandates of the Summit of the Americas, one of the focal points of the agenda was the presentation of a draft document by CIM entitled "Inter-American Program to Promote the Rights of Women and Gender Equity". This document stressed the importance of women's participation in power and decision-making structures and education, elimination of violence against women, and the eradication of poverty as the four priority strategic areas which would be pursued through national and multi-national projects to promote women’s rights and gender equity. Legal and institutional framework, work, health, national institutions responsible for the advancement of women, migration and women in areas of conflict, and regional cooperation were also topics of concern.

In regards to the initiative to strengthen national mechanisms to achieve gender equity, the Latin American Seminar on Women’s Bureaus- UNDP/UNFPA- held a conference on April 6-8, 1999, in the Dominican Republic. The purpose of this conference was to share experiences between nations focusing on main achievements, obstacles, and strategies related to the institutionalization of a gender focus in the public policies of Latin American countries and societies.

As the meeting concluded, a discussion over the resolutions and agenda items to be presented at the Thirtieth regular Session of the General Assembly of the OAS were discussed, and the preparations for the Thirtieth Assembly of Delegates of the CIM, scheduled to be held in Nicaragua during 2000 were mentioned.

Follow-up to Summit of the Americas

The Government of Nicaragua, the responsible coordinator of the initiative of women for the Summit of the Americas, requested technical assistance from the CIM to prepare monitoring systems in all the countries of the Americas. The Permanent Secretariat of the CIM coordinated the preparation of the draft follow-up document presented by the Government of Nicaragua to the November 1999 meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG).

CIM subregional meeting held in Montevideo

Within the framework of the Seed Fund project on Strategic subregional development to implement the priority areas of the CIM and fully incorporate women into 21st-century society, the Meeting of Delegates and Experts from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. Over 200 women representing the political, public, private sectors and civil society attended this CIM subregional meeting. Their goal was to identify common problems and ways to work together through cooperation mechanisms among the countries in the subregion. At the close of the meeting, the Delegates to the CIM signed the Montevideo Declaration, which was presented to the meeting of the Presidents of MERCOSUR, Bolivia, and Chile held in December 1999.

Women’s Economic Summit of the Americas (Buenos Aires, November, 1999)

The Inter-American Commission of Women co-hosted the Women’s Economic Summit of the Americas, held November 11-13, 1999 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. More than 350 women business, professional, and entrepreneurial leaders from throughout the Americas attended the event, which explored and shared strategies for expanding women’s business and trade capabilities in the Hemisphere. As a follow-up to the 1998 Vital Voices for Democracy in Montevideo, the Summit extended further the business and entrepreneurial relationships established at that time.

The Summit also provided information on the Latin American market and its growth areas, data on women as a market in the region, a basic "primer" on trade pacts and their impact on women’s capacity to do business within the region and globally, training in the use of technology to increase an enterprise’s cross-border business capabilities, and more practical sessions that will link participants with business opportunities in the Hemisphere.

New Projects of the Inter-American Commission of Women

Follow-up to OAS Convention of Bel�m do Par�: Study of the Impact of the "Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women."

As of 1999, 29 of the 34 OAS member states had ratified the Convention. It remains the only regional instrument that addresses and protects the rights of women victims of violence, and has been the catalyst for legislation, educational programs, innovative law enforcement approaches, and training programs. The project reviews each member state’s compliance with the Convention by addressing not only criminal law, law enforcement, sentencing, and corrections, but also health services, social services, victim assistance programs, crime prevention measures, and awareness campaigns that have been introduced in the past five years. In April, 2000, a major meeting of experts on violence against women analyzed the results of the research and make additional recommendations for effective implementation to the member states. The Inter-American Commission of Women coordinated this meeting with its international partners: UNIFEM, the UNDP, the UNFPA, PAHO, ECLAC, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Inter-American Dialogue.

International Trafficking in Women and Children in the Americas: Research on trafficking in women and children for purposes of labor and sexual exploitation.

This project is being developed in partnership with the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI) of De Paul University (Chicago, Illinois). On the basis of its experience in the field of human rights, the IHRLI is selecting seven or eight pilot countries. Suggested are Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, and Venezuela. With the assistance of two or three NGOs in the field, data will be compiled by country. Experts from the region, including experts from the selected countries, will be chosen to participate in analyzing the collected data. At a meeting hosted by the Commission and held in Washington, D.C., data will be reviewed and discussed and recommendations will be made. The results of these deliberations will be presented to the delegates of the Commission at the biennial Assembly of Delegates in November 2000. These findings will provide the basis for recommendations to the member states for action, and will be published and distributed throughout the Hemisphere. The Commission will also coordinate this project with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Children’s Institute.

CIM Campaign: Women and Education in the Americas of the 21st Century

With the purpose of contributing to an understanding of the problems facing education from a gender perspective, the project’s objective is to implement a hemispheric campaign to promote women’s education in the hemisphere in collaboration with the CIM Principal Delegate in each country.

The campaign is made up of the following materials for raising public awareness:

First Hemispheric Ministerial Meeting on Gender Equity

The "Meeting of Ministers of the highest-ranking Authorities Responsible for the Advancement of Women in the Member States" was held in Washington, D.C. on April 27 and 28, 2000. This groundbreaking Ministerial was organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) with support from its international partners: UNIFEM, the UNDP, the UNFPA, PAHO, ECLAC, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Inter-American Dialogue. Various non-governmental organizations were also invited to attend and participate. The agenda of the meeting included additional consideration of the draft, "Inter-American Program on Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equality". Another important area addressed was the fulfillment made in implementing the mandate concerning women in regards to the Second Summit of the Americas in addition to the approval of recommendations for the proposed Plan of Action for the Third Summit of the Americas. The specific areas discussed included the progress made in strengthening national mechanisms to achieve gender equity and the problems associated with this, legal equality for women, the status of women in the Americas, women’s health policies, and the eradication of poverty and discrimination

A copy of the speeches made during the Meeting of Ministers or of the Highest-Ranking Authorities Responsible for the Advancement of Women in the member States is available on-line. 

XXX OAS General Assembly

During the XXX OAS General Assembly held in Windsor, Canada, in June 2000, Governments approved a resolution that urges Governments to ratify the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, "Convention of Bel�m do Par�.

They also adopted another resolution which:

The Fourth Regular meeting of the CIM Executive Committee

On July 20, 2000, the CIM Executive Committee held its Fourth Regular Meeting in Washington D.C.

At this meeting, progress reports were presented on two projects, "Violence Against Women: A Regional Analysis, Including a Review of the Convention of Bel�m do Par�" and "Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in the Americas". The following advances have been made for these projects:

It was also reported that the MERCOSUR Third Specialized Meeting on Women took place on June 23, 2000, in Argentina. Both Chile and Bolivia participated in the conference. At this meeting, the delegations prepared recommendations for their governments to approve all pending bills on domestic violence and asked that they incorporate a gender perspective into their programs and actions. They also recommended that a gender perspective be included in the policies and programs of all MERCOSUR activities.

XXX Assembly of Delegates

The XXX Assembly of Delegates of the Inter-American Commission of Women took place on November 15-17, 2000, in Washington D.C. The following themes were considered at this meeting:

- Follow-up to the Convention of Bel�m do Par�: Results of the meeting of experts. Strategies to be followed.

- Traffic in women and children: findings of the research conducted.

Regarding the Third Summit of the Americas, the Delegate from Peru presented a report in which two important themes were suggested as points of consideration for the Summit Implementation and Review Group (SIRG). Those two themes are:

Also at the meeting, a document entitled "Recommendations for Gender Mainstreaming in the Summit Process" was distributed. The report serves as a follow-up to the Resolution that was passed in the first plenary session of the XXX General Assembly on June 5, 2000.

Sixth International Conference on Women's Human Rights  

During the Sixth International Conference on Women�s Human Rights which took place in Lima, Peru in December, leading experts discussed women�s right to economic empowerment and inclusion in all levels of decision-making processes. The experts provided theoretical and practical training for 100 legal and policy professionals from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. The Conference was jointly organized by the UNIFEM Andean Region office and Manuela Ramos, a local NGO.

Efforts to Combat Violence against Women Fall Short  
CIM Regional Analysis

In a sub-regional meeting hosted by the CIM and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in December, 2000, in Montevideo, Uruguay, the two groups analyzed a study entitled, Violence in the Americas: a Regional Analysis Including a Review of the Convention of Bel�m do Par�. Along with CIM members, experts from the International Center for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy of Canada (ICCLR) and the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD) participated in the meeting. The group focused on, among other issues, analyzing national programs for the prevention, eradication and sanction of violence against women in the Americas and following the progressed achieved on these topics since the Convention of Bel�m do Par�. The main conclusion at which the study arrived was that national initiatives against the abuse of women, while reflected in public policies and law reform, are not necessarily included within the implementation of these policies and reforms. A summary of this meeting, along with the project's final report, can be found at the following Web site: http://www.oas.org/cim.

Program for the Support of Women's Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD)

The OAS Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) is collaborating with the Inter-American Development Bank and UNIFEM, UNICEF and UNDP to foster female participation and leadership in every sector and at every level through the Program for the Support of Women's Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD). In April 2001, PROLEAD launched its project, "Women's Leadership for Good Governance," in Central America, which will serve as a forum for discussion of issues such as women's leadership and good governance. The launching of this initiative marks the beginning of the second of the project's two phases. It was initiated first in Latin America and the Caribbean, where it granted almost US$1.4 million in endowments to 40 organizations throughout the region. For more information on other PROLEAD activities, please click here.

The mandates and initiatives on women and gender equality were reinvigorated and fortified at the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.  For more information on these mandates, and to continue with follow up activities in this area, please click here.

Updated August 3, 2001