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Established in 1928, the Inter-American Commission of Women (‘CIM’) was the first inter-governmental body to expressly promote women’s rights, and since 1948 it has served as the OAS’s main regional policy forum for women’s rights and gender equality. It supports states in their compliance with their international and inter-American commitments on women’s human rights and gender equality and equity. This includes support in implementing international and Inter-American instruments and provisions adopted by member states, such as the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The CIM consists of 35 delegates, one from each member state, who are appointed by their respective governments. These delegates serve as political representatives of their states, as opposed to independent experts serving on their own behalf. The Commission’s Assembly of Delegates meets once every 2 years and completes it work through the following bodies:

  • The Assembly of Delegates (highest decision-making body)
  • The Executive Committee
  • The Presidency and Vice-Presidencies
  • The Delegates
  • The Executive Secretariat (appointed by and operating through the General Secretariat of the OAS)

The Inter-American Commission of Women is responsible for (Chapter 2, OAS Statute of the Inter-American Commission of Women):

  • Supporting members states in promoting full and equal access, participation, representation, leadership and influence of women in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres
  • Promoting women’s participation and leadership in planning and implementing public policies and programmes
  • Advising the OAS in matters related to women’s rights and gender equality
  • Collaborating with member states, other international organisations, CSOs, academia and the private sector in support of women’s rights and gender equality in the hemisphere
  • Reporting annually to the General Assembly on the CIM’s work, including relevant aspects of the status of women in the hemisphere, progress made in women’s human rights and gender equity and equality, and specific issues of concern in these areas, and elevating concrete recommendations members states in relation to these
  • Contributing to the development of international and inter-American jurisprudence on women’s human rights and gender equality and equity
  • Fostering the formulation and adoption of inter-American instruments for the recognition of women as rights holders and agents of democracy
  • Promoting the adoption or adaptation of the necessary legal measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women

How does it help tack violence against women?

CIM has been a leader in tackling violence against women throughout the Americas. The Belém do Pará Convention, the OAS’s legally binding treaty on the elimination of violence against women, was the result of CIM’s investigation of women and violence in the Americas. Their production of the Convention established women’s right to a life free from violence for the first time and continues to be the universal framework for tackling VAW in the region. In 2004 CIM also worked with the OAS to establish the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará (MESECVI), which remains one of the leading authorities in securing the human rights of women in the Americas.

CIM is guided by and supports member states in the adoption of the Inter-American Program on Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality (2000), which serves as the OAS’s principle mandate on gender mainstreaming. It has also been instrumental in establishing other international law and policy on gender equality which combine with the Belém do Pará Convention to provide the legal framework for women’s rights and gender equality in the Americas:

CIM has also developed a Strategic Plan 2011-2016 that guides its work, focusing on key areas of concern, which includes the elimination of violence against women:

  • Women’s human rights and gender-based violence
  • Women’s substantive political citizenship for democracy and good governance
  • Women’s economic security and citizenship
  • Citizen security from a gender perspective
  • Institutionalisation of a gender perspective in the work of the OAS

In addition to allowing observers attend their meetings, CIM also works closely with civil society to monitor the implementation of women’s rights instruments (such as the Belém do Pará Convention) and produce reports on and recommendations to improve the status of women in the Americas.

iconLockWant more? Find out more about how to engage with the Inter-American Commission of Women on their website. You can also access CIM’s Strategic Plan 2011-2016 and other relevant documents

Contact Information

Inter-American Commission of Women
1889 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
United States of America

Tel. +1 (202) 458 6084

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