July 9, 2020

Bachelet notes outstanding debts with Afro-descendants of Latin America

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Tuesday the outstanding debts that Latin American has with Afro-descendant women, who have been "invisible" and "culturally discriminated against."

During the opening ceremony of the Latin American seminar "Afro-descendant women, empowerment and participation in public life," which takes place in Costa Rica, Bachelet said that when an Afro-descendant woman decides to participate in public positions "criticisms are very common."

"This almost invisibility of women of African descent in the decision-making position is a consequence of the cultural discrimination of our Latin American societies, discrimination in access to quality education, health services, work and decent wages," said Bachelet.

The high commissioner added that this lack of access to human rights is a "reflection of the even more complex and pernicious discrimination created between this intersection between gender, skin color, ethnicity and socioeconomic class."

In the forum it was highlighted that in the last decade the region has seen an unprecedented growth in the number of women in positions of power, however the amount remains low taking into account that women are 50% of the population.

"The feminization of democracy has not cared for all equally (…) The region has outstanding debts with Afro-descendants, we need campaigns to eradicate inequality, the marginalization of girls who are going to be leaders, we need states to adopt actions and that civil society creates leadership, "said Bachelet.

In Latin America and the Caribbean there are approximately 200 million people of African descent. Of these, many are at a disadvantage that creates an impact for equal access to education, justice, health services, employment and housing.

According to a World Bank report presented the previous year, people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty and less likely to finish primary school.

Costa Rican Vice President Epsy Campbell, the first woman in that position in continental America, thanked Bachelet for three days and highlighted the need for an agenda for the empowerment of women, especially Afro-descendants.

"We face a complex reality with a proven disadvantage with respect to the general population and women in particular, with structural and institutional violence, with higher unemployment rates and general well-being," said Campbell, who since last week has served as president , because the president Carlos Alvarado is on tour outside the country.

The seminar, in which more than 150 people participate, is held within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Michelle Bachelet's visit arose from a request made in February by Campbell, during a bilateral meeting during a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

As part of its private agenda, the high commissioner will meet on Wednesday with the president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado; the president of the Legislative Assembly, Carlos Ricardo Benavides; and the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Fernando Cruz.

Bachelet also had meetings with the Ombudsman, Catalina Crespo, on Monday; and with representatives of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The high commissioner will also meet with associations of indigenous peoples, unions and youth movements.

. (tagsToTranslate) Bachelet (t) signals (t) pending (t) Afro-descendants (t) Latin America

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