Program on Women, Health and Development

Symposium 2001:
Gender Violence, Health and Rights in the Americas

Final Report


Gender Violence

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From the Foreword

The inclusion of gender violence in international conventions and in public policies in the Americas has contributed to the creation of new modalities of intervention in health, social policies and in the promotion of human rights. The nature and specificity of gender violence as well as the contextual factors that influence sectoral interventions pose challenges for the health sector to improve the effectiveness of its actions.

Womenís organizations have been insisting,for more than two decades, the need to develop actions to prevent and punish sexual and domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking and forced prostitution of women and girls, sexual exploitation, and cultural practices that threaten the health and development of women, as well as provide care to victims.As a result of these efforts, international cooperation organizations,governments,and communities have generated policies and programs that attempt to respond to the magnitude, causes, and results of this scourge.

The Symposium on Gender Violence, Health,and Rights in the Americas is a result of the regional campaign ďA Life Free of Violence:It ís our Right Ē launched by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in 1998.The focus of the campaign was to incorporate gender violence into the public agenda as a human rights issue. This was accomplished through multi-sectoral alliances and the mobilization of political will and resources. The message of the campaign aimed at breaking down cultural structures that legitimize violence against women and girls.

The Symposium constituted an interagency initiative,launched in 1999 by a group of United Nations agencies that included the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),the United Nations Children ís Fund (UNICEF),the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)and other organizations such as the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (CIM/OAS), the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Network against Domestic and Sexual Violence (ISIS), the Latin American and Caribbean Women ís Health Network (LACWHN),and the Center for Research in Women ís Health (a WHO Collaborating Center in Canada).These institutions conformed a regional coordinating group to organize and define the structure, methodology, and content of the event.

During the preparatory stage of the Symposium,national multisectoral working groups were established to prepare national reports on the role of the health sector in programs, policies, and laws related to the prevention of gender violence....