On October 7, 1994 in Washington, D.C., the Roundtable of Western Hemisphere Women Leaders brought together a politically and professionally diverse group of over thirty prominent women—none of whom occupy a national government position—from the United States, Canada and eleven countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Participants included a former central bank president, foreign minister, and chair of the U.S. International Trade Commission; others were human rights activists, foundation officers, business executives, and leading academics. Although the group disagreed on many points, the participants sought and found a shared commitment to the fundamental values of democracy and equity, and agreed on common policy prescriptions for empowering women as key actors in development.
Participants in the Roundtable succeeded in accomplishing three key goals:
They reviewed from the perspectives of concerned women the important economic, political, and social issues affecting the hemisphere, including democratic governance and the collective defense of democracy; hemispheric economic integration and extending the benefits of growth; and sustainable development and social investment.
They agreed to pursue the idea of building a network of women leaders in the hemisphere that would seek the active participation of women in all aspects of inter-American affairs; promote policy changes required to expand opportunities for women; and monitor the actions of governments and international organizations toward women.
They issued a Communiqué to the heads of state who will meet at the Summit of the Americas—scheduled for December 1994 in Miami—urging them to expand investments in women's education, health care and economic opportunities; to support the full range of human rights for women; and to promote national and regional policies to empower women.
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
It was just over a year ago that leaders of 34 nations of the hemisphere gathered in Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. How much progress has been made in the past year on the goals expressed at the summit?