Ana Paula Blower (Fiocruz News Agency)
March is celebrated as the month of International Women’s Day, but it is also the time to debate gender inequalities and guarantee of rights. This issue was highlighted by the ambassador of UN Women for Latin America, María del Carmen Squeff, at the Advanced Seminar in Global Health and Health Diplomacy of the Fiocruz Global Health Center (CRIS/Fiocruz), last Wednesday (March 9th). At the event, which was attended by researchers in the field, she highlighted the agency’s priorities for 2022 and emphasized the importance of alliances with institutions such as Fiocruz.
“The origin of March 8th is part of a historical context determined by great gender inequalities, which, although they have diminished, still persist and reproduce in a structural fashion in our societies. This is a day on which we are reminded of women’s fight for inequality, acknowledgment, the exercise of rights, with the full awareness that, in spite of advancements and achievements, we have still not reached substantial levels of gender equality”, said Squeff at the beginning of his lecture.
The online event was also attended by researchers of the National Institute of Women, Children and Adolescents Health Fernandes Figueira (IFF/Fiocruz), Corina Mendes, and Roseli da Fonseca Rocha, who debated aspects such as intersectionality and the expressions of racism in healthcare. The seminar, with the subject “Women and Global Health”, was mediated by Maria Gomes, coordinator of National Actions and Cooperation of the IFF, and Ivia Maksud, who coordinated the Post-Graduation Program on Children’s and Women’s Health of the IFF.
Action areas and alliances
During her lecture, Squeff commented on the role and the priorities of UN Women for 2022, which, since its foundation in 2010, works to improve the living conditions of women and to fulfill their needs. According to the ambassador, the agency supports the member states of the United Nations in establishing international standards to achieve gender inequality, in addition to working with governments and civil societies in the creation of laws, policies, and programs that benefit women and girls all over the world.
“UN Women bases its work on four impact thematic spheres: governance and participation in public life; economic empowerment of women; eliminating violence against women and girls; and women, peace and safety - a humanitarian action and the reduction of the risk of disasters”, stated the ambassador. “We need to embrace these points to turn our fight into transformation in concrete realities”.
According to her, these are the axis of the Strategic Plan approved in 2021 during a meeting of the Executive Committee of UN Women, under the vice-presidency of Argentina since 2021. As for priorities, the ambassador mentioned aspects such as reproductive and sexual rights, diversity, care for elderly women, among others.
Squeff also highlighted the importance of establishing alliances with governments, civil society, and research institutions, something that strengthens the support and promotion of improvements, platforms, and dialogues within the gender equality agenda. In this sense, she mentioned the relevance of Fiocruz for the debate. “Meetings of the Executive Committee and events such as this [seminar] make it possible for you to give feedback on the role of UN Women to strengthen it and to achieve progress regarding the situation of women and girls, especially in Latin America and in the Caribbean”.
In their speeches, Corina Mendes and Roseli da Fonseca Rocha addressed intersectionality, highlighting the importance of thinking of aspects such as race, sexual orientation, social origin, ageism, and deficiencies to promote better living conditions and guarantee women’s rights. The researchers and the mediators were emphatic in pointing out gender inequalities in Brazil and in the world, resulting in discrimination and in deaths, due to precarious services or domestic violence, among others.
“For Human Rights to become real, entrenched in women’s lives, going beyond abstractions, beyond the Human Rights Declaration, it is necessary to have equity, which, as an essential tool or principle, this process must take place through public policies”, observed Corina Mendes. “There is no such thing as human rights for different people. There is the effectiveness of rights through a chain of actions, decisions and practices of which we are part. This is not about his human rights or her human rights. These are our human rights”.