N° 12/07




This International Women’s Day offers us an opportunity to analyze the level of progress achieved in the respect of the rights of women and the challenges that persist.  Within that framework, yesterday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) launched the report Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence in the Americas, prepared by the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the IACHR. The event included the participation of José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS); Víctor Abramovich, Commissioner, Second Vice-president, and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the IACHR; Teresa Genta-Fons, Lead Counsel for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Legal Division of the World Bank; and Marianne Mollmann, Advocacy Director for the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.


The Secretary General of the OAS presented the main contents of the report and highlighted some of the conclusions that show that most acts of violence against women go unpunished, thereby perpetuating the social acceptance of this problem. Commissioner Abramovich highlighted the consultation process that preceded the preparation of the report, which included information from a variety of sectors, such as States, administration of justice officials, international organizations, civil society and experts.   He underlined the common perception of public servants of cases of violence against women as private and domestic matters that do not merit public actions.  He also identified the need to implement effective prevention measures to protect women against imminent acts of violence, as well as the importance of making available reliable statistics to increase the visibility of the problem of violence against women and to design strategies to address it effectively.


Dr. Genta-Fons emphasized the importance of women’s economic empowerment and the need to find mechanisms that can increase the visibility of women as economic agents of development.  She drew attention to the link between the sustainable economic development of American societies and the protection of the human rights of women.  Dr. Mollmann referred to the pattern of systematic impunity in the administration of justice systems toward cases of violence against women. Most cases lack a formal investigation, sanction and effective reparation and stressed the need to adopt immediate measures to confront this problem.


During this International Women’s Day, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reiterates its commitment to promote the advancement and protection of women’s rights and gender equality in the region, through the use of the instruments offered by the Inter-American System of Human Rights.  The promotion of equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination are essential to achieve the protection of human rights and the consolidation of democracy in our hemisphere.


Washington, D.C., March 8, 2007