The XX Meeting of the Committee of Experts (CEVI) was held on November 28 and 29, 2023 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC, it came on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Belem Do Para Convention. The meeting was chaired by the President of MESECVI Ms. Marcela Huaita and The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), Ms. Alejandra Mora Mora gave the opening remarks. The Experts urged States Parties to fulfill their commitments towards the MESECVI, to guarantee its role as the body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention and promoting the protection of women and girl’s human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Throughout the two days of work, the Experts reviewed persistent issues such as gender stereotypes that hinder women’s access to justice, violence against Afro-descendant women, and progress in addressing technology-facilitated gender-based violence. The Committee confirmed its commitment to developing a Model Law to prevent, punish, and eradicate technology-facilitated violence against women, meant to serve as a guide for the region.
The Belém do Pará Convention (1994), is the “Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women.” It was the first treaty, at a global level, to establish women’s right to live in a world free of violence, in both the private and public sphere, as a human right. The Convention establishes positive obligations for States to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women, and is an inspiration to countries in the region to effect change and protection through its legislative framework.
The Conference of States Party, consist of the 32 Member States to the OAS that have signed, ratified or acceded the Belém do Pará Convention. Its main functions include:
- formulate guidelines for CEVI’s work
- receive, analyze and evaluate the reports and recommendations issued by CEVI;
- publish and disseminate the MESECVI Hemispheric Report.
The Bahamas signed onto the Belem do Para Convention on 16th May, 1995.
Mrs. Elaine Sands, Gender Expert in the Department of Gender and Family Affairs under the remit of the Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting represented the Bahamas at the meeting. She apprised the body on the positive steps taken by the Bahamas to protect women and girls, including the “Protection Against Violence” legislation which was passed in the Senate on 2nd August, 2023. The act not only fulfill international obligations of the Government, it provides an established framework to address violence, raise awareness and provide victims with the necessary tools and support to overcome trauma.
The committee was also advised about the “Gender-Based Violence Family Island Coordination Councils” that are being rolled out in the rural communities of the Bahamas. Councils have already been set-up in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Exuma and Ragged Island. The purpose of the Council is to focus on community-based partnership to prevent Gender-Based Violence in their communities; survivor centered, changing norms, fostering collective power and focusing on root causes.
At the end of the second day of the meeting, the Experts voted to renew the leadership of the Committee. The Expert from Ecuador, Gloria Camacho Zambrano, was elected as President of the Committee of Experts.
President Zambrano commended The Bahamas on the recent passage of the Protection Against Violence Act. The Experts from Trinidad and Tobago, Sherna Alexander Benjamin, and Mexico, Teresa Incháustegui, were elected as Vice Presidents.