In 1994, the Commission renewed its commitment to ensuring that the rights of women in each OAS member state are fully respected and ensured by appointing a Special Rapporteur on the issue. While the constitutions of the member states of the OAS formally recognize the equality of women and men, the Commission had become increasingly aware that an examination of national legal systems and practices revealed the persistence of discrimination based on gender in both law and in fact.

Dean Claudio Grossman was appointed Special Rapporteur on women's rights by the plenary of the Commission during its 85th period of sessions to study how member state legislation and practices which affect the rights of women comply with the fundamental obligations of equality and nondiscrimination established in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the American Convention on Human Rights. The present report sets forth the initial findings of that study, identifying instances of de facto and de jure discrimination against women within the member states of the OAS, and issuing recommendations aimed at assisting those states in enhancing compliance with their inter-American human rights obligations. This is the first time the Commission has adopted a comprehensive study of the status of women's rights in the hemisphere.

Chapter I provides an orientation on the institutional and legal framework of the inter-American human rights system and the approaches and mechanisms it offers, with emphasis on how they may be utilized to address issues affecting the ability of women to exercise their rights. Chapter II reviews the activities of the Special Rapporteur in preparing the study and report, and explains methodology of the project. Chapter III sets forth initial findings derived from the information gathered, organized around a set of core issues: institutional and legal guarantees at the national level; the question of juridical capacity; the right to take part in the public affairs and service of one's country, including the right to stand for election; the right to life, physical integrity, and to be free from violence; and the right to equal protection and to be free from discrimination. Finally, Chapter IV sets forth recommendations aimed at remedying instances of de facto and de jure discrimination which impede the ability of women to freely and fully exercise their rights, at addressing the consequences of such discrimination, and at developing further initiatives within the regional system to facilitate these objectives.

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