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The Brasilia Consensus

With little media attention, on July 13 through the 16, the XI Regional Conference On Women of Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Brasilia, Brazil to "discuss achievements and challenges relating to gender equality with a focus on women’s autonomy and economic empowerment". As a result, delegates and representatives approved the "Brasilia Consensus." The consensus outlines what was discussed during the conference, including a list of the agreements the representatives decided to adopt.

The event went unnoticed by the mainstream press, and unfortunately, this lack of coverage helps governments ignore the rights their delegates promised to grant women through this consensus.

**The original document for the consensus is in Spanish, and you can read it here: http://www.eclac.cl/mujer/noticias/paginas/5/40235/ConsensoBrasilia_ESP.pdf

**This is the English translation: http://www.eclac.org/mujer/noticias/paginas/6/40236/ConsensoBrasilia_ING...

Here are some things that stood out to me as I read it:

"Bearing in mind that Latin America and the Caribbean is still the most inequitable region in the
world and exhibits widening gender, ethnic and racial gaps; that the social, political, cultural and
economic patterns underlying the sexual division of labour must be changed without delay; and that the
key to this is a new equation between the State, society as a whole, the market and families in which
unpaid domestic work and caregiving are construed and treated as public matters and a responsibility to
be shared among all these spheres,"

"Considering that women’s comprehensive health depends on concrete measures aimed at
reducing maternal morbidity and mortality and adolescent maternity and ensuring a better quality of life,
and that Millennium Development Goal 5 is the furthest from being achieved,"

Those present decided to adopt these agreements:

1. Attain greater economic autonomy and equality in the workplace
2. Enhance the citizenship of women
3. Broaden the participation of women in decision-making and the exercise of power
4. Address all forms of violence against women
5. Facilitate women’s access to new technologies and promote egalitarian, democratic and nondiscriminatory
practices by the media
6. Promote the conditions for the integral health of women and for their sexual and
reproductive rights
7. Carry out training and activities for exchanging and disseminating experiences with a view
to the formulation of public policies based on the data collected by the Gender Equality
Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean
8. Promote international and regional cooperation for gender equality
9. Welcome the offer extended by the Government of the Dominican Republic to host the
twelfth session of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean,
and accept this invitation with pleasure

The document goes into great detail about what each of these agreements entail; please refer to the document linked above to read about each one.

Those of us who live, work, or travel to Latin America need to spread the word about this consensus. We need to make sure that governments are held accountable for the promises they have made as part of this consensus. These agreements and calls to action will easily be ignored if the citizens and visitors of these countries ignore them too. If we don't educate other women about this consensus, a simple piece of paper (or a .pdf document in this case) will not help much.

**Official site for the conference: http://www.eclac.org/mujer/conferencia/default.asp?idioma=IN
**The site also offers individual reports on each country: http://www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getprod.asp?xml=/mujer/noticias/paginas/2/3...

What are some things you can do to make sure that the things outlined in the consensus really get done?

Comments

Lilith784's picture

Brasilia Consensus

Thank you for sharing this, Silvia! I hope the spirit of the document will translate into more concrete actions. My first question is: who is to be held responsible if there goals are not achieved? I am so weary of reading all those paragraphs starting with "encouraging" and "promoting" and "considering" - I would love to see a straightforward "we will" instead some day. We will pass a law against gender discrimination, we will provide funding for women voter education, we will support female leaders in our communities and our governments... maybe this is where we all can start: to give the legislators some ideas for action, and to let them know that we have read, understand, and will remember the promises made. What do you think?
Andrea

silviavinas's picture

Andrea thank you for your

Andrea thank you for your comment. You are absolutely right. I too am weary of reading all those things without any straightforward plans. It reminds me of the recent UN resolution to make water a right for everyone; it sounds great, and I'm glad they did that, but what does that really mean?

I see this consensus as a start. When I read it, my jaw dropped a couple of times thinking "really? this is what our delegates agreed to?" because it's far from what I've actually seen.

That is why I think that women NEED to know that this exists in the first place; I think many of them will be as surprised as I was.

And then, I think that the actions to be taken depend on the country. For example, in Chile they recently debated extending maternity leave for 6 months; however, various conservative female senators voted against the measure, and it didn't happen. The government still wants to come up with a way to extend maternity leave for Chilean women, so they are still working on it. In this case, Chilean women should be aware of the consensus and reach their representatives and encourage them to follow through with what the Chilean delegates at the conference agreed to accomplish regarding labor rights for women.

So I think that what you say ("maybe this is where we all can start: to give the legislators some ideas for action, and to let them know that we have read, understand, and will remember the promises made") is exactly what we should do.

I think activists from different countries could focus on one or two of the agreements, depending on what their country needs, and educate other women about the issues and then take action: write letters, sign petitions, make phone calls, etc.

But if women don't even know that this consensus exists, then governments will just turn a blind eye. I think that the agreements in this consensus can only happen with help from REAL women, not just delegates that signed them.

Grassroots initiatives will help these agreements become a reality. For example, in the consensus it talks about teaching women about technology and ICTs. I'm aware of two programs, one in Colombia (http://mujerdigital.wordpress.com/) and one in Venezuela (http://www.aliadasencadena.org/nucleos.php), that do this: but they are both grassroots initiatives. I think those a great examples of what can be done to make those agreements and promises really happen.

Again, thank you for your great comment! :)

Lilith784's picture

Those are two great

Those are two great initiatives! And it's true, the consensus uses powerful language compared to a lot of similar documents. I will definitely share the documents where I can. If you see any other opportunities for women in different parts of the world to support women in Latin America and the Caribbean, please let us know. You seem to have a lot of professional and personal experience in the field.
Andrea

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