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Violence against women in Latin America: the challenge of modernizing the region to save lives

Thousands join March for Our Lives events to protest

Discrimination and violence against women in Latin America remain the order of the day. The region is one of the most violent for women, which has led activists and human rights defenders to demand strong measures by governments to educate and demand a full life free of violence.

With countries registering an average of eleven femicides per day, the situation is described as “unacceptable” by agencies and civil society organizations, which consider it necessary for States and the judiciary to modernize and update their legislation to ensure the protection of women.

For her, it is also necessary to transform the attitudes and behaviors of those who perpetrate violence” for the sake of a “cultural transformation through an educational effort”. “We cannot continue to live in societies that reproduce violence against women,” she said, while applauding the legislative advances that criminalize femicide.

When it comes to fighting against gender violence from the institutions, it is important to achieve a “joint effort of governments and civil society”, a work that, according to Vaeza, “bears fruit”. “This is demonstrated by some laws that have been passed in Europe and Latin America in favor of gender equality and against violence against women. And that has been possible, precisely, thanks to the demands of civil society and the work of the institutions that articulate.

In Latin America, each country faces its own challenge in the defense of women’s rights. “It is clear that we must continue to work with the whole of society so that the progress made is consolidated and there are no setbacks,” said the Uruguayan, who has also worked as Director of Programs at UN Women.

In this regard, Vaeza stressed the importance of a “vigilant and active” civil society and took the opportunity to call the attention of governments, especially because of the coronavirus pandemic. “This pandemic has set women’s rights back 15 to 18 years,” she lamented before referring to the labor aspect.

“This has only aggravated the pandemic of violence that already existed previously against women,” she said while demanding parity despite the fact that Latin America is the region with the highest number of women parliamentarians. “We are still far from occupying half of the seats in congresses, in the boards of directors of companies and we do not even occupy half of the opinion sections in newspapers,” she insisted.

LABOR HARASSMENT Vaeza also stressed that in order to confront violence against women it is necessary to “denounce, educate, demand that effective laws be passed” and also “ensure the right of women to work and to train”.

In the face of high levels of workplace harassment, she has emphasized that state actors must play an important role and “ensure full implementation, monitoring and enforcement of anti-harassment laws.”

“Governments have a role in promoting social change and legislation must be complemented by comprehensive policies and practical measures that address the root causes of violence and harassment by changing social norms, including within institutions and in the world of work,” she has specified.

At this point, he pointed out, the actors in the world of work, such as companies and unions, “must contribute to making the laws relevant and facilitate their application in the workplace”.

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