The Bahamas Weekly Facebook The Bahamas Weekly Twitter
News : International : Organization of American States (OAS) Last Updated: May 7, 2015 - 7:57:38 AM


OAS Roundtable Discusses the Implementation of Women's Rights
By OAS
Mar 1, 2013 - 7:36:14 PM

Email this article
 Mobile friendly page
OASwomen_1.jpg
OAS Policy Roundtable “The Rights of Women: from Law to Practice” From left to right: Tracy Robinson, Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Luz Patricia Mejia, Coordinator, Follow-Up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention, OAS José Miguel Insulza, OAS Secretary General Teresa Inchaustegui, Legal Research Institute, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Maureen Clarke Clarke, President, Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) Katherine Romero, Senior Attorney, Women’s Link Carmen Moreno, Executive Secretary, Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) Date: March 1, 2013 Place: Washington, DC Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

The Organization of American States (OAS) today hosted the 49th OAS Policy Roundtable on "The Rights of Women: From Law to Practice," which discussed the progress made in legal frameworks and the challenges that persist in the implementation of the human rights of women in the region.

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, recalled that the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS is celebrating 85 years since its founding, and that it is the "only hemispheric policy forum for the rights of women and gender equality." The OAS leader highlighted the importance of the topic of discussion of the Roundtable, and warned that "the gap between the formal recognition of rights in legal systems and the direct and indirect discrimination against women is still a major concern."

Among the challenges in the field, the leader of the hemispheric organization mentioned the political representation of women. On this issue, he noted his belief that "the only way to achieve real equality is through affirmative action laws" that are accompanied by effective implementation in reality. "It is no longer enough to simply proclaim these laws, because there is always some excuse or another for not having enough female candidates in various elections and the numbers are not good," he added.

The Secretary General added that "there is no democratic society when all citizens do not exercise the same rights; that is the opposite of democracy." "A society which, in practice, denies rights to certain individuals because of their status, their gender or their race, certainly is not a sufficiently democratic society. Therefore, our obligation is to ensure that these rights exist not only in law but also in practice," he said.

The CIM President and Minister for the Status of Women in Costa Rica, Maureen Clarke, opened the session by saying that "in general terms, formal discrimination against women by social institutions in the Americas is low. With some exceptions women have civil rights, hereditary rights to own land and other property, the right to open bank accounts, to leave our homes without being accompanied by a man, to go to school and to enter the labor market." However, she said that "we cannot ignore the informal discrimination in our societies, which still limits the full citizenship of women." "For the majority of women in the region, existing international and national legislation and constitutional guarantees of equality have not yet been translated into reality," she said.

The Costa Rican Minister said that the Roundtable held today at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, "is one of several that the CIM will hold in the course of this year in order to share information, best practices, and other reflections on opportunities and challenges in the implementation of national and international legal frameworks on women's rights, and to identify concrete public policies to advance in the exercise of these rights for all the women in the hemisphere."

The CIM Vice President and Minister for the Status of Women and Women's Rights in Haiti, Maire Yanick Mézile, focused her address on the development of these policies in her country, and said that her Ministry "is responsible for preparing and organizing the implementation of policies promoting equality and women's rights." In particular, she emphasized that the Ministry has "given systematic attention to the problem of violence against women and girls, which is one of the main obstacles to the enjoyment and exercise by women of their fundamental rights."

Among the major developments in her country, Minister Mézile stressed that "the amended Constitution has enshrined the principle of a participation quota of at least 30 percent of women in all spheres of national life, especially in public institutions," which has resulted in an actual representation, currently, of 44 percent of the staff of the executive branch. In her conclusion, she said that despite the challenges, "Haiti is on the right track in regard to the realization of women's rights and equality between women and men."

The discussion panel consisted of Tracy Robinson, Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR); Teresa Incháustegui, of the Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); and Katherine Romero, Senior Attorney for the human rights organization Women's Link; and was moderated by Luz Patricia Mejía, OAS Coordinator of the Follow-Up Mechanism to the Convention of Belém do Pará.

In her presentation, Commissioner Robinson emphasized that, although the panel was focused on moving beyond the legal framework for the practice of the rights of women, “law reform is key, and is not a finished agenda; it remains an unfinished agenda in relation to women’s equality." As for the practice of the rights of women, she identified two important areas: the capacity and willingness of institutions to transform the status and situation of women, a space in which Robinson sees great progress; and the attitude and ideologies of people, where the persistence of stereotypes is still a problem.

For her part, Teresa Incháustegui said that "the law is a limiting parameter, but norms are social facts," she said, adding that efforts should focus on closing the gap between laws and reality. The Mexican politician and academic pointed to the need for "a new step in the issue of public policy," making it easier to denounce of violence and sexual assault as well as making it easier to protect women. "Reducing impunity is fundamental," she continued, "because that is the sign that the law is truly a limit."

The Senior Attorney for Women's Link, Katherine Romero, said she represented part of "a new generation of women who continue to believe that women are still struggling for the right to have rights." She talked about the experience of her organization in legal cases involving women rights in the region and identified three existing challenges: countries that criminalize abortion, the criminalization of women using reproductive health services, and the persecution of defenders of the sexual and reproductive rights of women in some countries in the region.

After a session of questions and answers, the closing words of the Roundtable were made by the Executive Secretary of the CIM, Carmen Moreno, who said that the debate "shows the pending agenda" of the organization. She said that in the CIM "we will continue to expand the spectrum, the stage, the knowledge, and make visible the issue" of women's rights.

"Little by little, women’s concerns are becoming law," said the Executive Secretary, who gave as an example of the latest developments the reauthorization in the United States this week of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides funds for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. Ambassador Moreno closed her speech by thanking the panelists for their input and discussion, which "enrich the dialogue on the Inter-American agenda."

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.
 

Bookmark and Share


© Copyright 2013 by thebahamasweekly.com

Top of Page

Receive our Top Stories



Preview | Powered by CommandBlast

Organization of American States (OAS)
Latest Headlines
OAS Secretary General Expresses Concern over Effects of Tropical Storm in Dominica
OAS Proposes Mechanisms for Dominican Republic-Haiti Dialogue and Support for Displaced Persons
Peru to Host the 23rd Inter-American Congress of Tourism, Coordinated by the OAS
(Video) Fred Mitchell remarks at OAS General Assembly "Present and Future of The OAS"
The Americas Becomes First Region in the World to Have an Instrument for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Older Persons
OAS, PAHO and International Institutions Join Forces to Tackle the Leading Causes of Death in the Americas
Insulza ensures on departure that OAS “Much stronger than it was when I arrived”
Rahming among those paying tribute to outgoing OAS Secretary General
OAS Presents Report on Evaluation of Drug Policies in the Countries of the Hemisphere
OAS Secretary General Participates in Forum on Advances in Women´s Rights in the Americas
Trinidad and Tobago Assumes Chair of the OAS Permanent Council
OAS Elects New Leadership
Gomez addresses OAS Committee
OAS Member States Highlight the Importance of Alternatives to Incarceration for Drug Related Offenders
Haiti withdraws offer to host OAS XLV General Assembly
OAS Mission in Haiti: Elections Marked a Step Forward
OAS Chief of Observation Mission to Haiti Discusses Sunday´s Vote with Electoral Authorities and Head of MINUSTAH
Nestor Mendez Takes Office as OAS Assistant Secretary General
OAS Deploys Mission to Assess Situation of Haitian Migrants
OAS and ICSS Organize Conference on Security at Major Sporting Events
OAS to Observe Presidential, Legislative, Municipal and Local Elections in Haiti in 2015
OAS Drug Commission Publishes Report on Alternatives to Incarceration for Drug-Related Offenses
Secretary General Insulza Participated in Roundtable on Alternatives to Incarceration for Drug Users
OAS Permanent Council Received the Report of the Board of External Auditors for 2014
OAS Anti-Drug Commission Opened its Biannual Meeting Highlighting Advances in the Americas
OAS Member States Begin Negotiations on the New Hemispheric Plan of Action on Drugs 2016 - 2020
Trust for the Americas of the OAS Launches “DIA” Initiative to Promote Innovation in Vulnerable Communities
OAS Welcomes the Birth of a New Era of Inter-American Relations
The Organization of American States on Pan American Day and Week
Seventh Summit of the Americas Concludes in Panama
OAS Commends Young Leaders and Entrepreneurs for Advancing Goals of the VII Summit of the Americas: “Prosperity with Equity”
First Plenary Session of the Summit of the Americas Witnessed Historic Presence of Cuba
OAS Adopts Report on Protection of Personal Data to be Used by Countries in the Region as Model Law
“Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure in the Americas”
OAS Presents Report to the Group of Friends of Haiti on his Visit to Port-au-Prince
45th OAS General Assembly to be held June 15-16 in Washington, DC
OAS Asst. Secretary General opens Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law
OAS Begins First Edition of Fellowship on Open Government in the Americas
OAS Secretary General Meets with the President of Haiti
Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Suriname Communicate their Consent to Receive On-Site Visits