Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Recently we wrote on the administration's consideration of de-funding the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. As reported, nine senators requested the defunding. Eight white men and one white woman comprised the group seeking to erase funding from the budget because they are unhappy with the Commission's positions on abortion. They claim that the Commission's efforts amount to "lobbying" for reproductive rights that is prohibited for those receiving US funds.
While we have focused on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission of Women is impacted, as well, and identified in the letter. (Both are under the umbrella of the Organization of American States.) The Commission on Women has a rich history of investigating and obtaining resolutions that clarify and enhance laws that impair women's rights. When the Commission was first formed in 1928, it took on the task of addressing laws that interfered with women's statehood. Some countries removed original citizenship from women when they married a native of another country. Sometimes the country of the husband's citizenship would not grant citizenship to the foreign-born wife, leaving those married women stateless. The Commission took on universal suffrage for women and other issues impacting women's liberty. When the organization became permanent in the 1930s, it was the first international organization devoted to studying the needs of women in the Americas. In 1994, the Commission presented the first resolution on violence against women, which was passed as the Convention of Belém do Pará. Violence against women remains one of the Commission's priorities. The Commission's visibility has been more limited during the past year, experiencing the financial stressors of the IACHR.
Two of the Commission's goals are to
- Contribute to the development of international and inter-American jurisprudence on women’s human rights and gender equity and equality
- Foster the formulation and adoption of inter-American instruments for the recognition of women as rights holders and agents of democracy
Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, women's rights and agency have been eroding. We need the Inter-American Commission on Women more than ever. As women in the US fight to maintain fundamental freedoms, we turn to international women's organizations for assistance. The international community of women may be one of the few effective voices in reminding that world that indeed, women's rights are human rights.