The Women’s Leadership Conference of the Americas (WLCA) is a hemispheric network of 100 outstanding women leaders who have decided to work together to: (1) expand the number and enhance the contribution of women in top leadership positions across Latin America and the Caribbean; (2) promote policy and institutional changes that will improve opportunities for all women in the region; and (3) strengthen other nongovernmental initiatives that advance women’s equality, and facilitate their access to policy officials. The members bring experience in politics and government, business, civic organizations, and scholarship.
The WLCA network, coordinated by the Inter-American Dialogue and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), got its start in October 1994 when a diverse group of 35 women leaders from thirteen countries of the hemisphere met in Washington to discuss the key issues confronting the Americas, and to explore how they affect women. It was the recommendations of this group that led to the inclusion of a women’s initiative in the 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas’ Plan of Action.
The WLCA is pleased to present its recommendations for action to enhance opportunities for women in the hemisphere. These recommendations came from the WLCA’s meeting on July 10 and 11, 1997, and they are intended for consideration by the heads of state when they meet for the second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile on April 17 to 19, 1998. Our document points to a decided lack of progress on women’s issues since the Miami Summit in December 1994. We urge the heads of state to reaffirm their broad commitment to advancing women’s equality—but also to develop a practical plan for proceeding. We propose focusing on a small number of high priority concerns—domestic violence, education and employment, and women in private and political leadership. We also call on governments to establish mechanisms to monitor, measure, record and report on actual improvements in women’s status over time, so they are publicly accountable for the international commitments they have made to women.
Our analysis and recommendations reflect the consensus of the members of the Women’s Leadership Conference of the Americas. Not every participant agrees fully with every phrase in the text, but each endorses the overall content and tone, and supports its main recommendations. WLCA members subscribe in their individual capacity; institutional affiliations are provided for purposes of identification only.