VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
A. The Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the IACHR and its mandate
1. The Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the IACHR was created in 1994 with the initial mandate to review the extent to which Member State legislation and practice that affect the rights of women comply with the general obligations of regional human rights instruments such as the American Convention on Human Rights (“American Convention”) and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (“American Declaration”). By creating the Rapporteurship, the IACHR reaffirmed its commitment to guarantee the full respect of the rights of women and the corresponding guarantees within each Member State.
2. Since its creation, the Rapporteurship has collaborated in the daily work of the Commission by publishing thematic studies, contributing to the formulation of new jurisprudence within the individual case-system, and by supporting the investigation of themes affecting the rights of women in specific countries in the region through on-site visits and country reports.
3. After an intensive study conducted by the Special Rapporteurship, the IACHR published its Report on the Status of Women in the Americas to provide an overview of the situation and formulate recommendations to assist Member States to eradicate discrimination from their legislation and practice, and establish priorities for future measures by the Special Rapporteurship and the IACHR. The obligations in regards to equality and non-discrimination are still the guiding points in selecting the topics to be addressed by the Special Rapporteurship. The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship also place specific emphasis on the problem of violence against women, which in itself is a manifestation of gender-based discrimination, as recognized by the Convention of Belém do Pará.
4. The Rapporteurship facilitates the clear understanding of which additional measures are needed to enable women to fully exercise their basic rights and issues special recommendations geared toward reinforcing compliance by Member States with their priority obligations regarding equality and non-discrimination. The Rapporteurship also promotes the mechanisms–for example, submission of individual complaints claiming human rights violations–pursuant to the Inter-American Human Rights System, in order to protect the rights of women; conducts specialized studies and prepares reports on these issues; and helps the Inter-American Commission respond to petitions and other reports on violations of these rights in the region.
5. The priority granted by the IACHR and by its Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women also reflects the importance granted to these issues by the OAS Member States. In particular, the Action Plan adopted by the Heads of State and Government during the Third Summit of the Americas recognizes the importance of empowering women and fully and equally involving women in the development, political life and decision-making at all levels. To this effect, the Action Plan underpins the Inter-American Program to Promote Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality, as well as other regional initiatives geared toward implementing the commitments stipulated in the Declaration of Beijing and its Action Platform.
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