High-Level Meeting Creates SICA Body to Promote Political, Civil Rights of Women

1 June 2012: A High-Level Meeting organized by Central American Integration System's (SICA) Council of Women's Affairs Ministers (COMMCA) agreed to create a special Coordinating Committee to guide strategy and advocacy in support of the political and civil rights of women within its eight member States, namely Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. 

The High-Level Meeting, held 29-30 May 2012, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was attended by high-level national officials in charge of women's affairs, representatives of National Mechanisms for the Promotion and Advancement of Women's Rights in SICA countries and Mexico, and representatives of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN).

The High-Level Meeting then convened on 30 May as the first Coordinating Committee meeting. It approved its rules of procedure, as well as a Joint Regional Agenda and Joint Action Plan on Political and Civil Rights for Women that will guide the Committee's work. Under the adopted rules, the Committee shall consist of Ministers and Representatives of the National Mechanisms, national parliaments, national electoral bodies and the PARLACEN, as well as representatives of relevant international or regional organizations, such as UN-Women. The Committee will be chaired by the President Pro Tempore of COMMCA, and SICA's Technical Secretariat for Women will serve as Committee secretariat.

The adopted agenda calls for, inter alia: creating a framework for harmonizing legislation on the political rights of women; advancing institutions and policies for the monitoring and implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and increasing knowledge management, skills and tools to foster gender equality and nondiscrimination.

The creation of the Coordinating Committee will help fulfill an objective of COMMCA's 2009-2013 Strategic Plan, to contribute to women's equality and equity as actors in the region's development. The High-Level Meeting was organized with assistance from the Iberoamerican General Secretariat (SEGIB), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. [COMMCA Press Release (Spanish)]