With the approval of the Quito Consensus by 33 participating governments, the 10th Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean concluded yesterday in Ecuador. Convened by the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC), the conference is the region's leading intergovernmental forum for the analysis of public policies from a gender perspective.
In the Quito Consensus, countries agree to adopt all necessary affirmative action measures and mechanisms, including legislative reforms and budgetary measures, to ensure the full participation of women in public office and in political representative positions, with a view to achieving parity in the institutional structure of the State (executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as special and autonomous regimes) and at the national and local levels, as an objective for Latin American and Caribbean democracies.
The document calls upon countries to develop electoral policies of a permanent character that will prompt political parties to incorporate women's agendas in their diversity, the gender perspective in their content, actions and statutes, and the egalitarian participation, empowerment and leadership of women with a view to consolidating gender parity as a policy of State.
It reaffirms the necessity of adopting measures of co-responsibility in family and working life that apply equally to women and men, bearing in mind that sharing family responsibilities equitably and overcoming gender stereotypes create conditions conducive to women's political participation.
The Quito Consensus calls for the implementation of comprehensive public social security systems, with universal access and coverage, linked to a broad spectrum of public policies capable of ensuring women's well-being, quality of life and full citizenship. In labour issues, it seeks to guarantee the elimination of all discriminatory, precarious and illegal labour conditions and to encourage women to participate in creative, innovative occupational sectors that transcend sexist forms of labour segregation.
The Consensus seeks to equalize the labour conditions and rights of domestic work with those of other types of paid work in accordance with ratified International Labour Organization conventions and international standards of women's rights. It calls for the elimination of the income gap between women and men and wage discrimination in all areas of work, and the abrogation of legislative and institutional mechanisms that give rise to discrimination and precarious working conditions.
Countries agree to adopt measures that contribute to the elimination of all forms of violence and their manifestations against women, especially homicide of women, femicide and feminicide, as well as to the elimination of unilateral measures that run counter to international law and the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
The document calls for the development of comprehensive, non-sexist public education programmes designed to counter gender and racial stereotypes and other cultural biases against women, and promote relationships of mutual support between women and men.
Countries agree to undertake efforts to sign, ratify and disseminate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol as a means of ensuring its application.
Countries also instruct the Presiding Officers of the Conference to devote one of the meetings they hold each year to an evaluation of the fulfilment of these commitments and agree that at the next session of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean -- scheduled for 2010 in Brazil -- a general assessment of progress should be undertaken. They also request that ECLAC, together with other organizations in the United Nations system, create a gender equality observatory.
The countries express their gratitude to the President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; the First Vice President of Spain, Teresa Fernández de la Vega; the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa; and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, María Fernanda Espinosa, for their participation in Conference. They also thank the people and Government of Ecuador for having provided the facilities for this Conference and for their generous hospitality.