The BEIJING COMMITTEE in GUATEMALA

Linked with Alicia Amalia Rodríguez Illescas – Guatemala, and with CLADEM, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights.

Published on CLADEM, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights, August 2002.

Excerpt: … IV Conclusions and Recommendations:

The work developed by the women’s organizations that participated in the elaboration of this report, together with the daily work experience performed from various environments and skills, as well as the investigations done with the different State instances in various moments of the work and especially on occasion of the elaboration of the national and international evaluations, such as Beijing +5 and the present Report, permit us to fundament the following conclusions:

Any explanation of the situation of Guatemalan women necessarily passes by a previous analysis of the Guatemalan social perception of what it means to be a woman, the unequal valuations over the importance of the activities performed by women and men in the micro and macro-social environments as well as the conceptions about the feminine and the masculine and how this is expressed in terms of the distribution of power and authority in the public environment as well as in the private one.

The importance of all this lies in the fact that, through it, a system of social organization of patriarchal nature with deep implications in women’s daily life and therefore in their economic, social, political, cultural, individual and collective development, has been built.

Guatemalan women, in their various age phases, have a very low social development profile, expressed in discouraging socio-economic and political indicators. These indicators have not changed substantially in the last 10 years: some advance a little and others go backwards. One of the fundamental causes due to which the indicators improve is that the international cooperation has supported wholeheartedly women’s advance; however, once the cooperation ceases its contributions, the State does not allocate its own resources that allow continuing and sustaining these programs.

Most of the achievements in the processes of constitutional, legislative, administrative and other transformations, have been reached through the women’s movements in its various expressions, which have been boosting processes in different environments of political action that develop juridical reforms and new laws, public policies and socio-political participation, and instances for the prevention, sanction, and eradication of violence and many other topics.

The Guatemalan State and its several political institutions, even though they now “accept” the inclusion of the subject in some aspects of the national agenda, continue viewing it as an aggregate with which to satisfy some demands from the international cooperation and women. Nevertheless, they continue without understanding that women’s individual and collective development has deep implications for Guatemala’s general development and therefore it is not an occasional or marginal issue that is improvised or added as a component, but rather it is a different conception of the problem, to be treated as corresponds.

The first obstacle to position properly the issue lies in the State’s and the Guatemalan society’s profound ideological/cultural structures, for whom women continue being perceived as second-class citizens and therefore do not reach the category of economic, political, social and cultural beings. From there we derive the need to transform the system of values, principles, practices and customs that orient and rule the philosophy and the social, political, economic and cultural relationships of the system. Hence the transcendental importance of the focus of the formal and informal education system, of the communications media and of all forms of scientific, cultural, literary, historical, artistic and political expression.

The consolidation of democracy in Guatemala necessarily passes through the legal, political, social and cultural acknowledgement of the rights of all the citizens, male and female. This means the acknowledgement of the legislated rights and those in practice. The States shall not be true Democracies if they are not willing to enforce those human rights; neither will those States that have subscribed the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women be able to achieve such degree of evolution if they do not adjust their conduct to it.

The women’s organizations and groups have sought the interlocution with the State institutions, with the purpose of guaranteeing the success of the negotiations they have been carrying out; however, just good will declarations will not suffice, it is now required to express that will in concrete terms with the enunciation of measures, the start-up of policies, and legislative judicial, political, institutional and budgetary mechanisms that will allow translating those enunciations into visible, concrete practices.

The careful verification of each one of CEDAW’s articles and sections, against the revision of the State’s policies, strategies, norms, mechanisms, plans and programs, allow the organizations that subscribe the present Report, to request the support of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in making recommendations to the Guatemalan State aimed at:

Achieving the internal application of the Convention, the national and international agreements in matters of women’s rights, with the purpose of guaranteeing that the justice operators will apply said norms permanently in their awards and actions, in order to eliminate the discriminatory measures against women. On the other hand, in all the approval processes of new norms, one must start from an inclusive focus, without patriarchal and oppressive for women conceptions.

That the different Ministries, Secretariats and Autonomous, Semi-Autonomous, and Decentralized State Institutions, assume within their sector policies, plans, programs and projects, the National Policy for the Promotion and Development of Guatemalan Women and the Equal Opportunities Plan 2001-2006, allocating the financial and technical resources for its execution, because they contemplate policies and programs dealing with equality in education, health, labor, economic development, land and housing, prevention, sanction and eradication of violence, political participation and institutional mechanisms for women’s advancement, which have not yet become operative.

That women’s access to the decision-making process in the different fields and levels of the national and international public life be strengthened, broadened and guaranteed through several mechanisms of political representation and participation, in virtue that women’s representation strengthens democracy and social peace.

Promoting dialog between women’s organizations and the State as a mechanism that permits the closeness between governors and governed, promoting the cooperation and mutual understanding from which proposals can be articulated, that allow the advancement of the position and condition of women, from the beginning of the processes and not just for legitimizing proposals.

That in the proposals generated by the State at the national, sub-regional, regional and international levels, they work from the beginning with the view and perspective of women in the State’s specialized instances and the women’s organizations and groups.

Guaranteeing the permanence and sustainability of the institutional mechanisms that promote women’s advancement, as guarantors of the subject’s tutelage within the different State organs and institutions.

Guaranteeing with its own funds the widening of the educational coverage, educational incentive programs for girls, adolescents and their parents that allow their permanence at least until the 6th grade of primary education.

Guaranteeing free exercise and access to information to the women’s organizations and groups, in order to be able to develop social audit processes that allow monitoring, verifying and evaluating the degree of efficacy, efficiency, transparency and probity of the public administration. (full text).

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