Nº 17/05




Between April 19th and 20th, the Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) organized the work meeting: The Protection of Women’s Rights in the Inter-American System: An Analysis of Access to Justice, to review the main achievements and challenges women face to access justice in the Americas.  The meeting was convened by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Susana Villarán.  The meeting included approximately 24 experts from the region, among them representatives from the administration of justice, regional and international agencies, non-governmental organizations, the academic sector and others, as well as attorneys from the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR.


 The meeting held is part of the project that the Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women has undertaken to collect information about women’s access to justice, particularly when they are victims of violence and discrimination, which is funded by the Government of Finland.  Throughout this year, the IACHR will organize a series of sub-regional consultations to identify the challenges to obtain access to justice in the Americas, to discuss new strategies and best practices to confront these obstacles and to review the reasons why some of these strategies have not produced the results expected.  The consultations will also identify recommendations that the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women can share with member states of the Organization of American States (OAS). 


During the present work meeting, the participants reviewed thoroughly the subject of access to justice from different points of view, including violence against women and discrimination, gender discrimination within the administration of justice, results and lessons learned about studies on the subject, the level of impact of international and regional legal instruments, the need for a multisectoral approach to achieve real access and the use of the Inter-American System.  The participants identified and analyzed the existing barriers to access to justice including the institutional, budgetary, geographic, cultural, language and economic, as well as comprehensive and multidisciplinary strategies to eliminate them.


As follow-up to this meeting and the consultation process, the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women will prepare a report about this subject, containing the information and conclusions gathered, as well as concrete recommendations for the member states of the OAS about measures that can be implemented to improve access to justice for women.


The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women took advantage of this opportunity to reiterate its commitment of promoting the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality in the region, by using the instruments of the Inter-American System of Human Rights.



Washington, D.C. April 25, 2005