At the end of the 18th century, claims for women's rights focused on equality and education. Only in the 19th century women’s claims the recognition of the right to vote for women and, in the 20th century, this right was extended to Latin American countries. At the end of the Second World War, the United Nations established the Commission on the Status of Women, which promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women. Likewise, since the 60s the women's movement received the name of "feminism" to claim their rights in the political sphere.

From the 80's, a differential use of sex-gender concepts is introduced into women's studies. On one hand, sex is based on biological, anatomical and physiological issues and, on the other hand, gender refers to the participation and active social experiences of the subjects. That is, gender, by including the social construction of individuals goes beyond the characteristics of sex.

In this sense, gender and sex allow the inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual and Intersex (LGTBI) people, who have historically been subjected to discrimination, violence, persecution and other abuses due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and physical diversity. The foregoing constitutes a clear violation of the human rights protected in international and Inter-American legal instruments.

Different actors of the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights point out that the systemic problems faced by LGBTI people in the region include criminalization, high rates of violence, discrimination in access to health, justice, education, work and political participation, as well as the exclusion and invisibility of these violations

In 2011, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights gave special thematic emphasis to the rights of LGTBI when designing a strategic plan –Plan of Action 4.6.i– and stablished a specialized unit within its Executive Secretariat. Likewise, in 2014 the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual and Intersex Persons entered into operation, giving continuity to the aforementioned unit and including issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and physical diversity.

Promotion of gender equality

The modern feminist movement has achieved greater awareness at the international level in relation to women's rights as well as within some official bodies of the United Nations –UN–. Beginning in 1975, the UN convened four world conferences on women, in which it placed the rights of women under the principle of gender equality and equity at the center of the debate. It also marked a series of priorities that were the result of consensus for both the international community and the women's movement.

On the other hand, in the Inter-American System we find a valuable element in the protection of women's rights, the Convention of Belém do Pará. This convention recognizes that “violence against women constitutes a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and totally or partially limits women to the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of such rights and freedoms”. It defines violence against women as “any action or conduct, based on their gender, that causes death, damage or physical, sexual or psychological suffering to women both in the public and private spheres” (art. 1).

Promotion of women's political participation

In Latin America, during the last two decades of the twentieth century, there was a process of recovery and deepening of democratic systems after a long period of military dictatorships and armed conflicts. Citizens were gradually recovering not only their right to elect their representatives and to run for elective positions, but also their right to influence –not without obstacles– in the reforms of their institutions that were becoming increasingly untenable in the framework of rising globalization and changes in the economic model.

The capacity for action and organization that women deployed during this hard period constituted an important learning for the stage of political democratization, because they were able to break into the political scene to raise their demands on gender equality.

Latin America is the region that has earlier and unanimously signed and ratified the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is considered the international charter of women's rights and legal manifestation in the search for full equality, by revising the concept of discrimination.

In most Latin American parliaments, women presence has increased in the last ten years, as have the candidacies and, nowadays, women are more frequently seen in ministries that were traditionally occupied by men, such as those of economy, defense and government. An important element that has allowed this increase has been the adoption of positive action measures for positions of popular election and designation. Despite these advances, the women's movement, organizations, feminists and institutional mechanisms in the region agree that progress has been slow, difficult and often unstable. For its part, UN Women launched the strategic guide: “Women's political empowerment: framework for strategic action in Latin America and the Caribbean (2014-2017)”, which was designed with the aim of stimulating the region's progress towards parity democracy, as a goal to transform gender relations and promote and develop the full political participation of women on equal terms.

Sexual and reproductive rights

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Montevideo Consensus recognizes sexual and reproductive rights as an integral part of human rights, placing our region at the forefront of agreements despite the dissimilar realities that urgently require resolution.

One of the key aspects in adolescent sexual and reproductive health is the effective access to services, supplies and a comprehensive sexuality education. Faced with cultural and social barriers, specific sexuality education is the key to empowering adolescents and young people and making a difference in future generations. Complications during pregnancy and at the time of delivery are the main causes of death among adolescents compared to other women, resulting in thousands of deaths each year. Likewise, according to the World Health Organization press center, almost 830 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, even though most of these deaths are preventable.

In short, recognizing sexual rights and reproductive rights as an integral part of human rights is not only essential to ensure equitable development in the region, but is an imperative to save lives.

Sexual Diversity and LGTBI people

Sexuality is a source of diversity and, therefore, of human wealth. However, it is often seen as a source of threats, resulting in the existence of prejudices and, thus, threats to those who have a sexuality other than socially approved. There is a multiplicity of individuals that are part of the inclusive advancement and visibility of the varied realities in matters of sexual diversity, which show that there are in addition to homosexuality, many other expressions, faced with their own experiences and challenges.

Gender identity and gender expression are inherent to people, and immutable since the individual cannot separate from it without risk of sacrificing their identity. In addition, personal decisions are part of the life project and are, therefore, in a process of permanent development, that is, they are fluid, and are built continuously. Therefore, both sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are flexible categories. State interference in such construction is a violation of the dignity of the person.

Until the recent adoption of the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, which explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity and gender expression, in accordance with the organs of the Inter-American System of Human Rights –IACHR and Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR)– sexual orientation and gender identity were contemplated in Article 1.14 of the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) within the expression “other social condition”.

The Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance identifies several forms of discrimination such as indirect, which implies causing a disadvantage to a person belonging to a specific group, and multiple or aggravated discrimination, where it is intended to annul or limit enjoyment or exercise of fundamental rights. In addition, urges the States adhering to the adoption of special public policies and affirmative actions to promote equitable conditions of equal opportunities; legislative measures prohibiting discrimination and intolerance; political and legal systems that contemplate diversity; and judicial measures that promote access to justice for victims of discrimination.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights affirms that it is necessary to relate the issue with the acronym LGTBI, which means: 1) L, lesbians; 2) G, gay or gai; 3) T, transsexual; 4) B, bisexual; and 5) I, intersexual. This acronym, clarifies the IACHR, has been used by movements and social mobilization groups.


Within the gender category, masculinity is a set of attributes, values, functions and behaviors that are supposed to be essential to man in a given culture. In this sense, there are multiple models to say, think and define as men, therefore there is a multiplicity, that is to say diverse masculinities.

Within the framework of a patriarchal society, which characterizes today's societies, there is a dominant model of masculinity and hegemonic, in which men are presented as "superior", which can discriminate and subordinate women and other men considered different, prevailing over other male constructions.

To understand the formal justification of working with men as part of the international agenda for the development of women, it is necessary to place ourselves within the framework of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women, Convention of Belém do Pará, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other normative instruments that fight for the possibility of change.

As a result of this, work with men is included in the UN Millennium Development Goals, in number 9 of the Annex to the Charter dated July 19, 2010 addressed to the president of the General Assembly by the president of the Economic and Social Council, specifically in its subsections b and d. Respectively, the need for a comprehensive approach to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls in all sectors is argued, including through initiatives aimed at preventing and combating gender-based violence; to encourage and support the efforts of men and boys to actively participate in the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence, especially that based on gender; and to increase their awareness of their responsibility in relation to ending the cycle of violence.


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