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March 8 – International Women’s Day

Fecha: (3/15/2021 11:27:52 AM)

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San José, Costa Rica. The IIHR joins in commemorating International Women’s Day honoring the women who are on the front lines of the battle against Covid-19, those who in the harsh conditions of unemployment, margination, violence and vulnerability; who are caring for and sustaining their families and those who continue to defend their rights against brutal attacks, especially the right to a life free of violence and to achieve, as individuals, equality with men, without discrimination of any kind.  

In celebrating March 8 each year, we recall the many changes of societal life that have occurred due to women’s movements for their autonomy, the full control over their bodies and their sexuality, their economic independence, their right to work and respect for their dignity, both in their public and private lives. It is a commemoration of a history of claims that have led to great progress juridically, especially with respect to inter-American norms and jurisprudence and to domestic laws, even though in many of our countries they have not yet had a deep impact in the justice, political, social and cultural fields. The numbers eloquently  show that only a few women hold high governmental posts and it is shocking that very few have been presidents of Latin American countries, to mention only two examples that demonstrate that the fight to make real the legal advances has only begun.  

The COVID19 pandemia is one more, of the many, type of violence perpetrated against women. Contrary to what has been stated in the preceding paragraph, the number of feminicides -killings of women  because of their sex- grows every day. UN Women has stated that “according to data of the Pan-American Health Organization, in Latin America and the Caribbean one of every three women has suffered physical or sexual violence during her lifetime and, according to ECLA, the number of women in 33 countries of the region who were killed in 2019 for the sole reason of being a women was more than 3,800.” (See:       https://lac.unwomen.org/es/noticias-y-eventos/articulos/2020/11/impacto-de-la-pandemia-covid-en-violencia-contra-las-mujeres)

The Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the principal human rights organs of the inter-American system, have issued specific guidelines that give special attention to the protection of women in light of the sanitary crisis. In its Statement of April 9, 2020, the Court declared that “In light of the social distancing measures that may result in an exponential increase of violence against women and girls in the home, it is necessary to underscore the State’s obligation of strict due diligence with regard to the right of women to live a life free of violence, so that all necessary steps must be taken to prevent cases of sexual and gender-based violence; to provide safe mechanisms for receiving direct and immediate complaints, and to reinforce assistance for victims.” (I/ACtHR. Statement of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 1/20 of April 9, 2020. COVID-19 and Human Rights: The Problems and Challenges must be Addressed from a Human Rights Perspective and with Respect for International Obligations.)

For its part, the Commission pointed out that “… the social stigma associated with Covid-19, which extends to anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus, there are other instances of stigmatization and structural discrimination that hamper access to the right to health of especially vulnerable groups, such as…women…and others. …In order to overcome (it), measures must be adopted immediately that include gender equality and intersectional perspectives…(including) children and adolescents, and women, particularly pregnant women and victims of gender-based violence.” (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Resolution No. 4/2020 Human Rights of Persons with Covid, adopted on July 27, 2020).

On this special day, the Center for Electoral Promotion and Assistance (IIHR/CAPEL), which has historically promoted the political rights of women through research, publications and training, together with the Association of Women Electoral Magistrates of the Americas, of which it is the Technical Secretariat, launched a Web page (http://amea.iidh.ed.cr/) and the Regional Observatory on Democratic Parity and Political Violence (http://amea.iidh.ed.cr/observatorio-regional-de-amea/presentaci%C3%B3n-observatorio/), described as a public good by Cecilia Alemany, Deputy Regional Director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean, which sponsored this initiative that enables the systematization of information for studying the situation of the political-electoral rights of women and the formulation of proposals and their adoption to achieve democratic parity and a life free of violence for women politicians.  

In addition, the project “New Challenges of Human Rights: Promotion and Protection of the Environment and Reproductive Health and their Defense in Central America,” supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Guatemala, has provided research, training, technical assistance and has developed networks and information and communication that promote and protect the human right to sexual and reproductive health of women and young girls in El Salvador. With an impact-based strategic focus, the project endeavors to promote positive changes in human rights policies, laws and practices. For this reason, the IIHR has a keen interest in Manuela et al. v. El Salvador, the case of a woman who has been sentenced for having an obstetrical emergency, which the Court will hear March 10-11.  It is hoped that the regional tribunal will develop new international human rights standards that will protect women who face such situations, through the application of the law or norm that best protects the person.       

The IIHR has a long history of promotion, research and training in the area of women’s rights. Since the 1990’s, the Institute, through its many initiatives, has fulfilled -and continues to fulfill- its mandate and its commitment to contribute to the efforts that women deploy across the region on behalf of equality in the enjoyment of all rights, especially a life free from violence, because the human rights of women are human rights, as was stated in the Vienna Declaration of 1992.