Highlights of the Latin America and Caribbean
Congress of Women in Politics - 1995

Overview

Latin America has the appearance of democracy, but in fact, there is no democracy in place. Politics in the region remains male-dominated, with women excluded from mainstream politics on account of class, gender, race, ethnicity and generation.

Women, however, are most active in community organizations. Most volunteers in political parties are women, and women voters outnumber men. But because of their lack of necessary skills and resources, women often remain at the bottom rung of the political ladder.

With this situation in mind, women from the Caribbean and Latin America met on the issues of women in political on 2-3 September 1995. The congress was presented, but was unable to generate consensus among the participants. A Latin America and Caribbean network on women in politics was set up during the congress, with its objectives and strategies defined in the workshop sessions. There was general agreement that such a network needed national and sub-regional focal points. The network also firmed up its lobbying positions on the issue in the UN Platform for Action.

The Caribbean women likewise stressed that a separate forum has to be organized to discuss their particular situation in politics based on the distinct context and conditionalities of their region.

Salient Points of the Discussion

A. Objectives
  1. To redefine present power relationships from one that is authoritarian, hierarchical and with a strong tendency towards militarization, to one that is based on solidarity and accountability.

  2. To strengthen a new ethical commitment in politics to include values important to women such as solidarity, tolerance and responsibility to the community.

  3. To defend systems of positive discrimination or affirmative action to significantly increase women's participation in politics.

  4. To conduct more leadership training sessions for women to equip them with the needed skills and resources that would maximize their political effectivity beyond being volunteers and voters.

  5. To strengthen the campaign on women in politics and organize more women for involvement in the political arena at all levels (local, regional and global).

B. Strategies

The Latin-American network agreed to work on the following:

  1. To increase women's participation quantitatively and qualitatively in political organization and public life;

  2. To fight for women's effective exercise of their political and citizenship rights as designated in the constitutions and laws of their respective countries and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

  3. To advocate for changes in legislation to gain equality for women;

  4. To promote women's leadership that is gender-sensitive, and to develop political practices that are transformative, inclusive and effective.

The Caribbean women discussed the following strategies:
  1. Share information among the different (Spanish-speaking, French- speaking, Dutch-speaking) areas in the Caribbean regarding the political situation of women, including their needs and strengths;

  2. Form solidarity and support groups or women who enter politics, including mentoring and training programs.

  3. Encourage more women to study political science and work for more field practices in politics for female students.

  4. Upgrade the quality of politics by instilling more sensibility, honesty, accountability and ethics.

  5. Encourage more women to register and vote.

 


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Dated: 26Feb2001