Press Release

On International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women's Day, the IACHR calls on States to encourage and strengthen their political participation

July 25, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - On International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women's Day, the IACHR calls on States to promote and strengthen this group's political participation through special measures and affirmative action, promoting safe spaces for their effective impact and combating all forms of discrimination and violence against them, in all political institutions and spaces.

The Commission has noted with concern that in the Hemisphere various forms of ethnic, racial, and gender-based discrimination and violence persist against women and therefore, do not guarantee the effective enjoyment of their rights to non-discrimination and to equality before the law. Among the many obstacles that Afro-descendant women continue to face in accessing political positions are laws, regulations and practices that directly or indirectly generate discrimination, or impede or limit their participation in the political process; gender stereotypes that attribute specific roles to men and women; ethno-racial prejudices related to the ability of individuals to exercise political roles; as well as partisan obstacles against the participation of women, people of African descent and other historically marginalized groups.

These practices translate, in many cases, into patterns that violate human rights and the rights of women recognized by Inter-American instruments, especially their rights to equality, non-discrimination, access to public service in their countries and their right to live a life free of violence.

"In the Americas, Afro-descendant women have suffered a triple historical discrimination, based on their gender, their ethnic and racial origin and, for many women, their situation of poverty" said the President of the IACHR Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the Rights of Women and on the Rights of Persons of African Descent and Against Racial Discrimination. "Challenging sexist stereotypes linked to their gender and the structural racism of which they are victims, Afro-descendant women continue to face serious obstacles to participate in the political decisions of the countries of the region. For this reason, all States must encourage and strengthen policies, laws and practices that assure them participation in all areas of the political sphere, in conditions of equality and free from discrimination" Commissioner Macaulay continued.

Likewise, the IACHR notes with concern the occurrence of acts of violence, aggression and harassment perpetrated against Afro-descendant women elected or appointed to hold public positions or political offices. These discriminatory acts constitute a form of gender-based violence against women and generate a hostile and discouraging environment for achieving greater political participation of Afro-descendant women.

In this regard, the IACHR calls on all States to take the necessary actions to encourage the political participation of Afro-descendant, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora women, through special measures and affirmative actions that promote gender, ethnic and racial balance in decision-making spaces. Likewise, the Commission calls on all the States to adopt appropriate measures to encourage political parties to ensure that Afro-descendant women have fair and equitable opportunities to run for and be elected to all public offices.

Likewise, the IACHR reminds all the States of the region of their duty of due diligence in the investigation and punishment of acts of violence, aggression or harassment perpetrated against women of African descent who hold or are candidates for public office. This duty includes conducting serious investigations, without delay, of all complaints of verbal, psychological or physical violence, in order to combat the atmosphere of impunity that perpetuates discrimination against them and prevents them from participating in the political decision-making spaces.

Finally, the Commission calls upon all the States of the region to adopt the necessary measures to ratify and implement, without delay, the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, as an expression of their commitment to combat discrimination and all forms of intolerance in the Hemisphere.

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 and to defend 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. 161/18