Press Release

IACHR Publishes Report on Legal Standards related to Gender Equality

November 18, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today is publishing its report “Legal Standards related to Gender Equality and Women’s Rights.” This is a special edition of the report, issued to commemorate this year’s 20th anniversary of the Convention of Belém do Pará. This special edition includes the original text approved by the IACHR on November 3, 2011, and an update approved on January 26, 2015.

The report summarizes and analyzes legal standards on gender equality and women’s rights adopted by the inter-American human rights system, and analyzes to what extent the inter-American system’s recommendations and decisions have had an impact on the rulings issued by domestic courts around the region. The IACHR identified a significant number of judicial rulings handed down by various courts throughout the Americas that have made explicit reference to the standards of the inter-American human rights system on gender-based discrimination and violence.

The updated section of the report highlights key developments in the adoption of legal standards in the areas of women’s rights and gender equality from 2011 to 2014. These developments are an important instrument and tool for all users of the inter-American human rights system and those working to advance the protection of women’s rights.

The IACHR has stated repeatedly that impunity for human rights violations is one of the main obstacles to the observance of the rule of law in the region. This demands that States adopt immediate, comprehensive measures to combat this serious problem. However, despite various State efforts, the Commission points to the reality of social inequality and obstacles in access to justice, which help perpetuate problems such as discrimination against women including its most extreme forms.

The report seeks to promote the continuing use of standards from the inter-American human rights system by the judiciaries of the region. It also exemplifies for various sectors how these standards can be used to advance gender equality and women’s rights. It also attempts to contribute to the consistent development of legal standards by the bodies of the inter-American human rights system.

For the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), the standards of the inter-American system for human rights serve as a guide on how to meet the various obligations related to gender equality, and may serve as an important resource and instrument for the advocacy and monitoring work of civil society organizations, international agencies, and academia. This instrument was created in line with the IACHR’s priority objective to support the OAS Member States in the fulfillment of their human rights obligations in the area of gender equality and women’s rights.

The IACHR urges the States to continue their efforts to improve the implementation of their principles and obligations in order to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women. It also urges them to adopt all measures within their power to carry out the recommendations and decisions of the Commission and the Court with respect to the rights of women.

The Commission would like to express its appreciation to the State of Canada for its support in the publication of this report and for its collaboration in promoting the development and application of case law and legal standards on gender equality and women’s rights in the Americas.  

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 132/15