Women's Rights: Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace

Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and the Role of the Armed Forces in Democratic Society (Mexico City, 19 September 1996)

VI. The Role of Women in Strengthening Civilian Power

59. In order to increase opportunities for women to participate in the exercise of civilian power, the Government undertakes to:

(a) Set up nationwide public awareness campaigns and educational programmes with a view to increasing public awareness of women’s right to participate actively and decisively, both in rural areas and in the cities, in the process of strengthening civilian power, fully and equally and without any discrimination;

(b) Ensure that social and political organizations adopt specific policies to enhance and promote the role of women in the process of strengthening civilian power;

(c) Respect, promote, support and institutionalize women’s organizations in rural areas and in the cities;

(d) Ensure that at all times in the exercise of power, women, whether organized or not, are provided with and guaranteed opportunities to participate.

60. The Parties appreciate the work undertaken at the national level by the various women’s organizations and encourage them to work together to make their contribution to the process of implementing the agreements on a firm and lasting peace, especially those undertakings most directly related to women.

Agreement on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Mexico City, 31 March 1995)

II. Struggle against Discrimination

B. Rights of indigenous women

1. It is recognized that indigenous women are particularly vulnerable and helpless, being confronted with twofold discrimination both as women and indigenous people, and also having to deal with a social situation characterized by intense poverty and exploitation. The Government undertakes to take the following measures:

(a) Promote legislation to classify sexual harassment as a criminal offence, considering as an aggravating factor in determining the penalty for sexual offences the fact that the offence was committed against an indigenous woman;

(b) Establish an Office for the Defence of Indigenous Women’s Rights, with the participation of such women, including legal advice services and social services; and

(c) Promote the dissemination and faithful implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

2. The communications media and organizations concerned with the promotion of human rights are urged to cooperate in the attainment of the objectives listed in this section.

Agreement on Social and Economic Aspects and Agrarian Situation (Mexico City, 6 May 1996)

I. Democratization and Participatory Development

B. Participation of women in economic and social development

11. The active participation of women is essential for Guatemala’s economic and social development, and the State has a duty to promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

12. Recognizing women’s undervalued contributions in all spheres of economic and social activity, and particularly their efforts towards community improvement, the Parties agree that there is a need to strengthen women’s participation in economic and social development on equal terms.

13. To this end, the Government undertakes to take the specific economic and social situation of women into account in its development strategies, plans and programmes, and to train civil servants in analysis and planning based on this approach. This undertaking includes the following:

(a) Recognizing the equal rights of women and men in the home, in the workplace, in the production sector and in social and political life, and ensuring that women have the same opportunities as men, particularly with regard to access to credit, land ownership and other productive and technological resources;

Education and training

(b) Ensuring that women have equal opportunities for education and training in the same conditions as men, and that any form of discrimination against women that may be found in school curricula is eliminated;

Housing

(c) Ensuring that women have equal access to housing of their own by eliminating the obstacles and impediments that affect women in relation to rental property, credit and construction;

Health

(d) Implementing nationwide comprehensive health programmes for women, which involves giving women access to appropriate information, prevention and health care services;

Labour

(e) Guaranteeing women’s right to work, which requires:

(i) Using various means to encourage vocational training for women;

(ii) Revising labour legislation to guarantee equality of rights and opportunities between men and women;

(iii) In rural areas, recognizing women as agricultural workers to ensure that their work is valued and remunerated;

(iv) Enacting laws to protect the rights of women who work as household employees, especially in relation to fair wages, working hours, social security and respect for their dignity;

Organization and participation

(f) Guaranteeing women’s right to organize and their participation, on the same terms as men, at the senior decision-making levels of local, regional and national institutions;

(g) Promoting women’s participation in public administration, especially in the formulation, execution and supervision of government plans and policies;

Legislation 

(h) Revising national legislation and regulations to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in terms of economic, social, cultural and political participation, and to give effect to the government commitments deriving from the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Implementation History

1997

Minimum Implementation

In response to stipulations from the Agreement on Social and Economic Aspects and the Agrarian Situation, the Follow-up Commission established a Coordinating Commission for the Women's Forum on 21 May 1997.1 The Women's Forum was then formally established on 12 November.2

  • 1. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/51/936), June 30, 1997.
  • 2. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/52/757), February 4, 1998.
1998

Minimum Implementation

The Office of the First Lady coordinated with the National Office for Women's Affairs and representatives from other women's organizations to create the National Policy for the Promotion and Development of Guatemalan Women and the Equal Opportunities Plan, 1997-2001, which they submitted to the Government for implementation.3

  • 3. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/53/421), September 28, 1998.
1999

Intermediate Implementation

The Women's Forum incorporated representatives from diverse linguistic and ethnic communities in its ongoing effort to make a unified push for equal rights and equal opportunities for women in Guatemala. The Government, however, was slow to change and neglected to review draft legislation that would protect women against discrimination in the labor market.4

Consistent with obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, Government decree number 7-99 of 9 March 1999 enacted protections for the dignity and comprehensive advancement of Women. Decrees 29-99 and 80-98 also reformed the Civil Code to improve gender equality.5

  • 4. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/526), November 11, 1999.
  • 5. “Tenth Report on Human Rights of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/688), December 21, 1999.
2000

Intermediate Implementation

Some locally-based women's groups formed parallel to the Coordinating Commission for the Women's Forum, gained legitimacy with local power structures, and had a tangible influence on policy decisions. The Presidential Secretariat for Women was established to advise and coordinate policies regarding protections and advancements for women.6

A scholarship program for girls in rural areas was established.7

Guatemala became signatory to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in September 2000.8

  • 6. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/175), July 26, 2000.
  • 7. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/973), June 1, 2001.
  • 8. “Twelfth Report on Human Rights of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala,” United Nations General Assembly (A/56/273), August 8, 2001.
2001

Intermediate Implementation

The Congress has yet to reform the labor code to protect women's right to work. There are no legal protections against sexual harassment or discrimination against working mothers.9

The Presidential Secretariat for Women created the National Policy for the Promotion and Advancement of Guatemalan Women: Equal Opportunity Plan 2001-2006.10 Ministers and departmental governors took important steps to implement the policy.11

Guatemala ratified the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.12

  • 9. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/973), June 1, 2001.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/1003), July 10, 2002.
  • 12. “Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in the Context of the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals,” United Nations Economic and Social Council (E/2010/60), May 7, 2010.
2002

Intermediate Implementation

Proposed changes to the labor code to protect women's rights were not found this year.13

  • 13. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/58/267), August 11, 2003.
2003

Intermediate Implementation

The legal code was modified to make gender discrimination illegal this year. Domestic violence, unequal opportunities, and political under-representation continued to be problems for Guatemalan women, however.14

  • 14. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/59/307), August 30, 2004.
2004

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Intermediate Implementation

After MINUGUA completed its mandate, the new Guatemala contingent of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that violence against women remained widespread and perpetrators largely enjoyed impunity. Indigenous women were doubly discriminated against across the country.15

2007: The Government adopted the Coordinated Agenda for Maya, Garifuna and Xinka Women in 2007.16

2008: In 2008, women held 12% percent of Congressional seats and filled elected office in 2% of municipal councils and 6% of municipal corporations. In 2009, women made up 22% of Departmental Development Councils.17

  • 15. “Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala,” United Nations Economic and Social Council (E/CN.4/2006/10/Add.1), February 1, 2006.
  • 16. “Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in the Context of the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals,” United Nations Economic and Social Council (E/2010/60), May 7, 2010.
  • 17. “Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in the Context of the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals,” United Nations Economic and Social Council (E/2010/60), May 7, 2010.