REPUBLIC OF ECUADOR
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
STATEMENT BY H.E. MRS. MARIA ISABEL BAQUERIZO DE NOBOA,
THE FIRST LADY OFTHE REPUBLIC OF ECUADOR
AT THE 23rd SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY: "WOMEN 2000: GENDER EQUALITY,
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE"
New York, 8 June 2000
The objective of the World Conference on Women carried out in Beijing in September 1995, was to review and update, using the triple perspective of development, equality and peace, strategies for the advancement of women that were approved 10 years earlier in Nairobi.
The purpose of the platform of action of this Conference was to affirm the universal character of women's rights and promote the fulfillment of these rights as an essential condition for development.
The effectiveness of the Conference's objectives and actions is connected to the degree to which governmental, non-governmental and international resources are mobilized. This demands an extensive process of dissemination and reflection regarding the nature and extent of the commitments to be assumed by the different actors involved.
The Beijing Platform departs from the recognition of the existence of significant disparities between men and women, that must be overcome in order to attain human sustainable development and gender equity. In this context, the platform serves as a framework to guide nations and the peoples of this world in the implementation of the commitments, objectives and mechanisms associated with the advancement of women within society.
Ecuador unequivocally assumed this commitment and amassed women's demands to design the Equal Opportunity Plan (1996-200), a technical instrument that guides and cuts across all areas of public policy, promoting the development of programs and projects in favour of women and children.
In the area of institutional mechanisms, the National Women's Council was created as a body accountable to the President's Office, locating it at the highest level within the political system. The Council is comprised of representatives of government and civil society.
With the creation of CONAMU a body of appropriate procedures were established such as the employment of personnel with technical and management capacity to broaden and legitimate women's participation and develop policies, programs and projects in health, education, labour relations, access to public and private resources and the prevention of violence.
It is worth emphasizing the close relationship between this government body and the women's movement which together promote the advancement of women and the well-being of their families.
This joint effort produced its most significant result after an extraordinary effort of political negotiation which resulted in the fact that a large majority of the women's specific collective rights are recognized in the new Constitution of the Republic in effect in Ecuador since 1998.
It is important to point out that in the last five years the country has undergone a difficult process of economic adjustment, which has produced successive crises and a serious and concerning social situation. This severely threatens probabilities for development and democracy.
This crisis, which in a particular manner Ecuadorian women given the historical condition of discrimination in which they have carried out their activities, diminishes women's possibilities for survival and personal well-being, and the genuine exercise of their rights. This is one of the greatest obstacles to achieving a
process of human-centered development and endangers the gains made toward the construction of gender equity.
The Ecuadorian State needs to develop mechanisms that will allow it to require that gender equity become a focus that cross cuts policies, programs and projects, an essential condition for linking macroeconomic policies with social policies and obtaining sustainable a model of development which reaffirms democracy. As a government, we are currently undertaking this task.
We believe that the United Nations' member states, non-governmental organizations, international organizations and, in particular, donor organizations, along with civil society are called, today more than ever, to support governments in their efforts to implement the Beijing Platform so that women and children have access to knowledge and new technologies, instruments necessary to participate in the labour market, and in general, for the observance of women's rights and the substantial improvement of their quality of life.
The present government, for its part, in response to the crisis which affects Ecuadorian society, is implementing a Social Emergency Plan which contains focalized policies whose principle beneficiaries are women from the poorest sectors of society. The Plan emphasizes employment and income generation policies and programs.
We are working so that the state of peace achieved with Peru will be reflected in frontier communities through economic and social development projects which pay particular attention to women and children.
The government has assumed one of its greatest challenges and commitments in attempting to improve rural and indigenous women's' access to resources by strengthening women's movements and organizations especially those belonging to those sectors most in need.
Despite the national problems, from 1995 onward, significant gains have been made in recognition of the rights of women in the legislative domain and various policies have been institutionalized in favour of women.
Mechanisms which promote the participation of civil society in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policies regarding gender equity have been broadened; the National Women's Council acting as regulating body has strengthened citizenship and consolidated during this period important processes that promote equity.
These challenges which need to be considered given the new international environment, and amidst globalization and technological advances require the establishment of new. strategies based on constant interchange and work at the regional level.
Ecuador is experiencing a transition process that requires profound economic, social and political reform in which the implementation of policies which promote gender equity are seen as fundamental to obtaining stability and the consequent well-being of the population.
I wish to emphasize that the implementation of the Law for Maternity Free of Cost is part of this new conception. This Law provides for medical service during and pre and post partum, as well as medical check-ups of children from birth to five years of age.
With this we hope to diminish maternal and infant mortality and secure that women exercise their right to be attended to during pregnancy in order that a happy ending will be attained. Recognizing the importance of the role of women in the care and protection of their children, recognizing the family as the basis of society and as
such in need of attention and protection, it will be possible, as well to detect and prevent illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.
In addition, the law of political quotas has been implemented. This law requires that 30% of the candidate lists for elections to public posts be women. This very important objective, I am sure, will give rise to new leadership and new political practice in Ecuador in the consolidation of its democracy.
Presently, within the country there exists 22 Women's "Comisarias"' found in all of Ecuador's provinces. Their service model is drawn from non-governmental organizations and they are strengthened by the permanent technical assistance provided by the National Women's Council. The Comisarias are institutionalized as part of the State within the Ministry of Government.
The attention and service the Comisarias provide has led to a perceptible neutralization of the levels of family abuse and their accomplishments upon evaluation have produced successful results in the daily lives of many Ecuadorian families.
Attached to the document given to each country is a summary of the rights of women recognized in the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador. Today, we are engaged in making effective these rights and for this require the unwavering collaboration of all of you.
' An instance within the justice administration system