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Representatives highlighted the historical contribution of the Regional Gender Agenda and proposed moving towards a care society in Latin America and the Caribbean

Vice Presidents, Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Women and other authorities, together with representatives of international organizations and civil society, in particular women’s and feminist organizations, highlighted today the contribution of the Regional Gender Agenda – forged in the last 45 years – to the policies of gender equality and autonomy of women in Latin America and the Caribbean and agreed on the need to move towards a society of care, during the closing day of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean held at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

The two-day meeting, organized in a hybrid way by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in coordination with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), had as objective to review the preparations for the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, the main intergovernmental forum on women’s rights and gender equality in the region, which will meet in Argentina from November 7 to 11 under the theme of “The care society: horizon for a sustainable recovery with gender equality”.

The closing day included a session to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the First Regional Conference on the Integration of Women in the Economic and Social Development of Latin America, held in Havana, Cuba, and the beginning of the construction of the Regional Gender Agenda. This was divided into two high-level panels, the first on “Contribution of the Regional Gender Agenda to policies for gender equality and women’s autonomy in Latin America and the Caribbean” and the second on “Alliances, achievements and challenges for the advancement of the Regional Gender Agenda”.

The representatives welcomed the advances, recognized the contribution of the women’s and feminist movements, reiterated the need to untie the structural knots of gender inequality and underlined the urgency of avoiding setbacks, accelerating the move towards a style of development that puts at the center the sustainability of life and translate the commitments in terms of gender equality and economic, physical and political autonomy of women into concrete, measurable actions and with adequate budgets.

The authorities highlighted that, after the first conference held in Cuba in 1977, Latin America and the Caribbean became the only region in the world with a space where governments, the United Nations system and civil society meet to promote a Ambitious, profound and comprehensive Regional Gender Agenda.

The speakers noted numerous challenges to continue consolidating the Regional Gender Agenda and move towards a caring society, especially at a time of multiple crises, where it is urgent to face the immediate impacts of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as the negative consequences of climate change and disasters that fall disproportionately on women in all their diversity.

The Regional Gender Agenda includes the commitments to women’s autonomy and rights that the governments of the region approved at the Regional Conferences on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean -which are convened every three years- and is also nourished by the capacity, strength and creativity of women in the region and of women’s and feminist organizations.

Antonia Orellana, Minister of Women and Gender Equity of Chile, in her capacity as President of the Board of Directors of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, celebrated the space for meeting and exchanging experiences that the Conference has meant for the countries of the region and what it has articulated in normative terms. The Chilean official ratified the commitment of the Government of President Gabriel Boric to “implement a gender and feminist approach in all public policies” in the country and assured that “we are interested in putting the issue of care first. By putting the society of care, the care of life and the planet at the center, we have the opportunity to relegitimize democracy and broaden our conception of what the rule of law implies.”

Ana Güezmes, Director of the Gender Affairs Division of ECLAC, explained that a central component of the Regional Gender Agenda is women’s autonomy and that the focus for the next Conference is on the care society. “We know that gender equality and women’s autonomy cannot be achieved without a redistribution of time, power and resources. We women can’t wait any longer. It is not possible for us to continue bearing the disproportionate burden of care work that falls on us,” she said, stressing that “it is essential to reaffirm the central role that the State has in the process of building the care society, through actions that have as horizon the universalization of quality services, the coordination and intersectorality of policies, financial sustainability and co-responsibility”.

Finally, María-Noel Vaeza, Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean of UN Women, highlighting this area, expressed: “We hope that the Regional Conference on Women consolidates the care society agenda and that the Declaration allows have a firm commitment to move forward with comprehensive care policies and systems, adequately funded and with a budget” and reaffirmed its confidence in this intergovernmental space: “We have witnessed on several occasions that with the firm and determined commitment of the Ministries of Women, As governing bodies within the States, in coordination with civil society and with the support of the agencies of the United Nations System, we can overcome the obstacles to achieving gender equality and launch joint initiatives that achieve a significant impact. , with concrete results in the lives of women”.

Participating in the commemorative session were Antonia Urrejola, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile; Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia; Beatriz Argimón, Vice President of Uruguay (by video); Antonia Orellana, Minister of Women and Gender Equity of Chile; Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity of Argentina; Osmayda Hernández, Member of the National Secretariat of the Federation of Cuban Women of Cuba; Alicia Bárcena, former Executive Secretary of ECLAC (virtual); Enrique V. Iglesias, former Executive Secretary of ECLAC (by video); and Nadine Gasman, President of the National Institute for Women (INMUJERES) of Mexico (virtual).

They were joined by Adis King, Minister of Youth Development and Empowerment, Youth at Risk, Gender Affairs, Safety of the Elderly and Dominicans with Disabilities of Dominica; Dean Jonas, Minister of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development and Blue Economy of Antigua and Barbuda (virtual); Diana Miloslavich, Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations of Peru (virtual); Irene Montero, Minister of Equality of the Government of Spain (virtual); and Juan Carlos Holguín, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador (by video).

Also speaking were María Noel Vaeza, Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean of UN Women; Gladys Acosta Vargas, President of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (by video); Alejandra Mora Mora, Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) (virtual); Virginia Vargas, co-founder of the Flora Tristán Center for Peruvian Women in Peru; Ayesha Constable, founder of Youth for Action Against Climate Change Jamaica (virtual); and Paola Yáñez, General Coordinator of the Network of Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women, among other representatives.

The Special Meeting of the Presiding Officers was attended in person and online by Ministers for Women, high authorities of the Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women and delegations from 32 member States of ECLAC and three associate members, as well as representatives of 16 agencies, funds and programs of the United Nations System, six Resident Coordinators and an official from the United Nations Development Coordination Office, as well as representatives of 15 intergovernmental organizations and 87 civil society organizations, plus two former Secretaries ECLAC executives: Alicia Bárcena and Enrique V. Iglesias.

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