IACHR RAPPORTEURSHIP ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN CONCLUDES VISIT TO CHILE
Washington, D.C., September 17, 2007 — The Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, conducted a working visit to Chile from September 10 to 13, 2007, in order to observe and gather information on the situation regarding the rights of women in that country, particularly their right to live free of discrimination. The IACHR Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women verified that the government of Chile has undertaken important initiatives to promote equality of women in different spheres of life, giving the issue high priority on the public agenda. This represents a significant and important step on the road toward equality.
The Rapporteurship views as extremely positive the government’s efforts to promote parity as a State policy and to advance initiatives designed to expand the participation of women in the country’s political activities. In this regard, the Rapporteurship emphasizes the initiatives that seek to establish minimum benchmarks and financial initiatives, and hopes that these move forward and help to overcome the still-low percentages of political participation of women.
In terms of the rights of women in the family sphere, the Rapporteurship received information about the government’s efforts to improve legislation related to violence within families. It was also informed about programs designed to overcome the current work overload situation in family courts and about proposed reforms to the Civil Code. In this regard, the Rapporteurship notes that the current legal framework governing joint ownership of property, which grants a husband the right to administer any assets, has a discriminatory impact on the life of women and establishes an imbalance between the rights of men and women within marriage, which should be corrected. The Rapporteurship applauds the government’s recognition that the existing legal framework governing joint property ownership has a discriminatory impact on women, as well as its decision to give urgent priority to legislative deliberations on reforming it. The Rapporteurship will closely follow the legislative debate on this issue, given the enormous importance this reform will have in improving the status of women’s rights in Chile. In addition, the Rapporteurship notes that a link exists between the inequality of women in the family sphere and their limited participation in the public arena.
The Rapporteurship received information on the situation regarding discrimination that Chilean women face in the workplace, to the effect that despite the advances made at the educational level by women in Chile, their participation in the labor market continues to be below average in the region. According to the information received, a significant salary gap exists between men and women, averaging around 30%, with the numbers going up as educational levels and workplace responsibilities increase. The Rapporteurship welcomes the efforts underway to reform the social security system in view of the impact these reforms could have in terms of the economic and social rights of women.
The Rapporteurship hopes that efforts to make progress in the recognition and protection of the rights of women can be transformed into laws, public policies and implementation mechanisms that have a positive impact on the everyday lives of all women in the country. The Rapporteurship reiterates its willingness to work with the State and with civil society in Chile. The Rapporteurship ‘s observations and conclusions regarding the visit, as well as its recommendations, will be included in a special report on the situation of women’s right in Chile, which will be adopted by the IACHR.
During the visit, Commissioner Abramovich and his delegation met with high-level government officials, including the Minister Secretary General of the Presidency, José Antonio Viera-Gallo; the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Enrique Tapia; the Acting Minister of the National Women’s Service (SERNAM), Carmen Andrade; the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Albert van Klaveren; the Deputy Secretary of the national police force (Carabineros), Javiera Blanco; and specialists from the Justice Ministry. The Rapporteurship also held meetings with officials from international agencies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The delegation also held productive working meetings with nongovernmental organizations, as well as with the Centers for Human Rights at the Schools of Law of the University of Chile and Diego Portales University, among other members of the academic sector. Finally, the Rapporteurship held an event in Santiago to launch its report on Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence in the Americas.
The Rapporteurship would like to express its appreciation to the government of Chile for its hospitality and its cooperation in planning and implementing the agenda of activities during the visit, and to the government of Finland and the European Commission for the financial contributions that made the visit possible. The Rapporteurship also thanks civil society organizations, representatives of the academic sector and international agencies for the information and assistance they provided.
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