Hemispheric Women’s Commission Executive Meeting Highlights Gender Equity Issues
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 12:53 PM

With gender equality, gender-based violence and the problem of poverty prominent on its agenda, the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) opened a meeting of its 2006-2008 Executive Committee at the Organization of American States (OAS). Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin called for an “inter-American partnership on gender issues” that would facilitate the creation of effective regional strategies.

Ambassador Ramdin urged the delegates—led by CIM President Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, of Antigua and Barbuda—to strengthen collaboration with OAS and inter-American institutions, in order “to create wider synergies” with such bodies as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

“The voice of the CIM challenges us to address the glaring deficits in gender balance and forces us to acknowledge that genuine partnership is the key ingredient for any real and lasting societal transformation,” Ambassador Ramdin asserted. “No sustainable partnership can occur if women and men remain compartmentalized,” he stressed, adding that youth and women are disproportionately represented in terms of inequality within the hemisphere. He assured the delegates that the OAS will continue to offer its full support so that gender equity is “situated at the heart of the hemispheric multilateral agenda of democracy, security and development.”

Ramdin commended the CIM’s “visionary” initiatives in bringing a gender approach to issues of conflict and peace-building, adding that the OAS specialized agency has shown excellent results in the Andean and Central American regions in particular. He also noted efforts to address gender considerations related to natural-disaster mitigation and response, urging that a gender perspective be incorporated into the work of the Inter-American Committee on Natural Disasters. He also repeated his call for a new approach to development that is “more holistic, more human and more pragmatic.”

The Assistant Secretary General also referred to Convention of Belém do Pará—which seeks to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women—and expressed confidence that its Follow-up Mechanism, developed by the CIM, will become a formidable tool to measure national and hemispheric progress in implementing that treaty.

In her remarks, Dr. Quinn-Leandro, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Labor, Public Administration and Empowerment with Responsibility for Gender Affairs, stressed that “gender-based violence must not be allowed to thrive with impunity in any of our communities.” She outlined a three-pronged strategy against the problem, based on uncompromising legislation; effective widespread sensitization programs; and available, adequate support services. “We can ill afford the social and economic costs of allowing gender concerns to languish on the periphery, and so we must redouble our efforts at mainstreaming gender into all sectors of our respective member states,” she told the delegates.

Quinn-Leandro argued that the CIM alone cannot be responsible for gender mainstreaming and for implementing comprehensive programs. “These mainstreaming efforts will only be successful with the active and ongoing engagement of all the partners and member states, in conjunction with the deep and abiding commitment of the OAS as an institution,” she declared. She stressed the need for men and women to collaborate to help attain the goals of gender equality, and dispelled misconceptions that gender mainstreaming “conflates with female-only policies.”

Minister Quinn-Leandro further explained that policies, programs and projects affect men and women differently, and said that if these “gendered differentials” are not addressed, “the results of the efforts to improve the lives of men and women are more likely to wither on the vine.” The CIM President also drew attention to the need for the agency to be adequately funded to carry out its “exponentially growing mandates.”

CIM Executive Secretary Carmen Lomellin welcomed the delegates yesterday to the two-day meeting of the 2006-2008 Executive Committee, which is examining, among other issues, the agency’s work program for that biennium. Initiatives include a focus on the Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality; the elimination of violence against women; and presentations on other related issues such as fighting the crime of trafficking in persons, especially women, children and adolescents.

Published in: “Hemispheric Women’s Commission Executive Meeting Highlights Gender Equity Issues,” press release, Organization of American States, 20 April 2007.