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					                                                                                   DGPS. May 2006
                                                                       University of Memphis 01.01
                                                                                    Dina Rodriguez
                                                                     Director, UPEACE Department
                                                                     for Gender and Peace Studies



                INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL MEMPHIS IN MAY
           STRUGGLE AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF COSTA RICAN WOMEN1


I would like to start today’s presentation with a quote from the Japanese
philanthropist Mr. Ryochi Sasakawa. He visited Costa Rica and learned that this
country had abolished the army in 1948. He said,

                                                    “Blessed the Costa Rican mother who
                                                           knows at the time of birth that
                                                         her child, will never be a soldier”
                                                                          Ryochi Sasakawa

This quote is kept in the Monument the University for Peace has built to honor
Costa Ricans who made efforts through the times to build up the democratic and
peaceful country Costa Rica is today. It is the Monument for Disarmament, Work
and Peace.


On behalf of the University for Peace I would like to express our gratitude for my
being invited to be part of the International Festival of Memphis in May,
organized by the University of Memphis.

I am very pleased to introduce the University for Peace. UPEACE2 is an
institution that was created in 1980 by the United Nations General Assembly.
San Jose, Costa Rica was chosen for its main campus, as recognition to Costa
Rica’s long tradition of democracy and a culture of peace.

At the University for Peace we offer Graduate Programmes in different fields of
study related to the prevention of conflicts, conflict management and resolution
and post conflict actions. We are offering Master of Arts Degrees in Gender and
Peacebuilding; Peace Education; Environment, Peace and Security; Human
Rights and International Law; and in many other areas.

The University for Peace established the Department of Gender and Peace
Studies in 2001, to explore the possibility of creating an academic discipline
focused on the intersection of two important fields: Gender and Peace Studies.
The University for Peace was the first academic institution that created a
1
    With the contribution of Ronald Castro, from the UPEACE Department of Gender and Peace Studies
2
    For more information look at http://www.upeace.org


                                                                                                     1
Programme to blend these two global fields of interest in scholarship and
research.

In the Department for Gender and Peace Studies we believe that one of the most
pressing issues in the world today is the maintenance of peace. At UPEACE we
also believe that while billions of dollars are spent each year on teaching people
how to kill each other all over the world, there is virtually nothing being done to
teach young people how to prevent conflict, how to mediate, or how to rebuild
societies after conflict

The Mission of the Department for Gender and Peace Studies is to promote the
gender perspective in all aspects of life based on values of respect for human
rights, tolerance and dignity for men and women; in particular during the
prevention and management of conflicts, and to encourage the full participation
of women in all phases of peace processes.

Our mandate is to teach, research and produce educational materials that focus
on the interface between Gender and Peacebuilding, our primary efforts take
place at the main Campus based in Costa Rica but we share our knowledge and
experience in different parts of the world.

We understand that Education for Peace is one of the most important
instruments to prevent the trend of recurrent wars, armed conflicts, and multiple
security threats. Based on this principle, the University for Peace is currently
offering Graduate programmes and Short Courses and is developing course
materials on related issues, which are being disseminated through information
technologies to partner universities across the developing world.

Today I will share with you some reflections on the Struggle and Achievements of
Costa Rican Women during the last centuries.

As in many places in the world, Costa Rican women have had fewer legal rights
and career opportunities than men. Since early times, women have been
uniquely viewed in their roles of wives and mothers, their active participation in
development, politics and in the construction of this country, as a country of
democracy and peace, was denied and their actions were surrounded by
invisibilities, as many times their actions were not understood. Historians don’t
always tell us the whole truth, women’s contribution was not acknowledged in the
“official” history of the country and was not registered in history books, they were
kept in the memory of those who are writing now the real pages of these
courageous women who had to fight, in their time, against discrimination,
segregation and were denied their basic civil, economic, social and political
rights. To them, I want to dedicate this presentation with all our recognition and
appreciation.




                                                                                  2
In 1502, Christopher Columbus3 gave the name of Costa Rica, when he reached
its coasts. He found more gold than in any of the Caribbean islands and thought
this place was a rich coast. His initial encounter with natives was friendly and
helpful; they began trading, offering glass beads for the Indigenous’ ornaments.
As a sign of gratitude and admiration the natives sent Columbus two young
women. This particular act constitutes a starting point for the social construction
of the role and expectations of women by the Costa Rican society of that time
and in the times to come. This act was a symbol of the importance men gave to
women, treated as objects of exchange and thankfulness, without respect to
women’s real value for their dignity as human beings.

It wasn’t until 15614 that the conquer period took place; with it the sword and the
Bible came to finally clarify and identify the roles of men and women in the Costa
Rican society. Not a big change took place; the Christian theology perpetuated
the natural biological role of women, which was limited to the traditional domestic
chores and caring of children.

During the colonial period5, the social structure kept placing women in an inferior
position to men, strengthening male dominance in all aspects of life. Women
were denied the rights of property, little education was provided, and as
consequence they had few skills to succeed outside their home and, therefore,
they had few choices. Women of that time didn’t have elements to exercise their
political rights and their working opportunities were non-existent or scarce. Costa
Rica was far away from becoming an egalitarian society.

Whatever happened in the world had also its expression inside the country; the
American and French revolutions gave small benefits to women and both
restricted citizenship to men. Years after, the gradual developments of the liberal
and democratic societies opened new possibilities and new roles for women
around the world, Costa Rican women slowly but with determination moved in
that direction.



3
  Durán Lucio, Juan. Entre la espada y el falo. La mujer americana bajo el conquistador europeo. Editorial
Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica. 1999. Pág.: 88.
4
  Molina Montes de Oca, Carlos. Garcimuñoz. La ciudad que nunca murió. Editorial Universidad Estatal a
Distancia, San José, Costa Rica. 1993. Pág.: 23.
5
  Molina Montes de Oca, Carlos. Garcimuñoz. La ciudad que nunca murió. Editorial Universidad Estatal a
Distancia, San José, Costa Rica. 1993
Durán Lucio, Juan. Entre la espada y el falo. La mujer americana bajo el conquistador europeo. Editorial
Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica. 1999.
Prada Ortíz, Grace. Mujeres forjadoras del pensamiento costarricense.Editorial Universidad Nacional,
Heredia 2005.
Mora Carvajal, Virginia. Rompiendo mitos y forjando historia: Mujeres urbanas y mitos de género en Costa
Rica a inicios del Siglo XX. Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría, Alajuela, Costa Rica. 2003.
Abstract.
Rodríguez Sáenz, Eugenia Dra.. Las familias costarricenses durante los Siglos XVIII, XIX y XX. Escuela
de Historia, Universidad de Costa Rica. Internet.


                                                                                                        3
Costa Rica gained its independence in 1821, as many Latin American nations did
that same year. One of the steps ahead in education was given in 1847, with the
opening of the “Liceo de niñas”6, first educational center for girls. The creation of
this Center was praised, for what it meant in the education for girls. However, it
was only a formal space for affirming, once more, all their traditional
housekeeping roles. Education for women was attached to the principles of the
Catholic Church, with little possibilities for knowledge and cultural developments.
Women access to equal rights and benefits were not even discussed.

The invention of printing and the innovations in written productions brought new
opportunities for the dissemination of ideas and knowledge. It was in 18307 when
courageous women in Costa Rica trespassed their limits and secretively began
to read books, think and write. Something, not socially welcomed in women of
that time.


It was in Cartago, the first capital of Costa Rica, where the first groups of
intellectual women emerged. Popular legends tell us that women thinkers got
together, during the early years of the Republic to discuss and debate several
issues of academic and political interest.

Anacleta Astorga8, was one of these women with intellectual reputation; she
organized literary and cultural meetings. It is said that on the 14 th of September
1842 the tyrant, Francisco Morazan President, of the Central American
Federation, by force of the arms, was captured at her home, while he attended
an intellectual meeting and he was executed by the opposing forces on the next
day, the 15th of September, which is the day Costa Rica celebrates its
independence.

Fourteen years later, in 1856, the figure of Francisca Carrasco9 made her most
relevant action. The country was facing one of the worst political crises; Juan

6
  Prada Ortíz, Grace. Mujeres forjadoras del pensamiento costarricense.Editorial Universidad Nacional,
Heredia 2005. Pág.: 24.
7
  Prada Ortíz, Grace. Mujeres forjadoras del pensamiento costarricense.Editorial Universidad Nacional,
Heredia 2005. Pág.: 36.
8
  Interview: Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo, 23 de julio de 2002.
9
  Expediente Legislativo # 11924, “Declaratoria de Heroína Nacional y Defensora de las Libertades Patrias
a la Ciudadana Francisca Carrasco Jiménez”; 1994.
Zamora Hernández, Carlos Manuel. “Francisca Carrasco (1816 – 1890)”, Centro Nacional para el
Desarrollo de la Mujer y la Familia; Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.
Revista Ecos de ADEP, Órgano de la Asociación de Educadores Pensionados; N° 158, Marzo 2000, Pág. 20.
Periódico La Nación, Suplemento Áncora, Domingo 19 de marzo, 2006. Pag. 2.
Interview: Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo, 23 de julio de 2002.
Internet: http://www.racsa.co.cr/asamblea/galeria/beneme/benemrts.htm,
http://www.fempress.cl/base/precursoras/pancha.htm,
http://www.museojuansantamaria.go.cr/memo/biografica/francisca.htm,
http://www.despertandoembrujos.or.cr/nuestrasmemorias1.html,
http://www.nacion.co.cr/zurqui/laminas/home3.html


                                                                                                        4
Rafael Mora Porras, President of Costa Rica asked the people to join together in
arms and fight against the invasion of the American pirate William Walker, he
had invaded Nicaragua and was ready to take over Costa Rica.

Francisca Carrasco and many other brave women enrolled as soldiers of the
national army. They were assigned tasks usually expected for women to deliver,
like cooking, nursing and cleaning. However, she was the only woman taking
active part in the battles. She used firearms to defend the dignity of her country.
In Rivas, Nicaragua, during the battle of the 11 th of April 1856, the audacious
Francisca Carrasco with one single shot killed the pirate who had controlled the
artillery and was killing lots of Costa Rican soldiers. Years later she received a
medal for her heroic action. When she died, the government decreed a national
day of grief and she was offered military honors in the rank of Major-General. In
1994 the National Assembly recognized her as “Defensora de las Libertades
Patrias”, Defender of National Liberties.

Years later, General Tomás Guardia Gutierrez, President-Dictator of Costa Rica
for 12 years, had the positive influence of his wife María Emilia Solózano
Alfaro10. In many occasions she persuaded him in the decision-making
processes on diverse issues. For the first time a Costa Rican first lady went to
Europe with her husband and participated in negotiations. She helped in bringing
nuns to Costa Rica from the Sion congregation. Her major accomplishment is
that she had a constructive persuasion over her husband, and advised him to
eliminate the death penalty in Costa Rica11, which was effective in the
Constitution on the 26th of April 1882. For this action she was declared on the
10th of April 1972 “Benemérita de la Patria”12, National hero.

During the XX Century, women in Costa Rica played a distinctive and active role,
by which they influenced society at large. New political and social ideas and a
gradual development of liberal and democratic institutions encouraged the
emergence of a new model of womanhood. The growth of the labor force allowed


10
  Acuerdo Legislativo # 1202 de 10 de abril de 1972, Título de Benemérita de la Patria para la Señora María
Emilia Solórzano de Guardia. Expediente N° 4753.
Sáenz Carbonell, Jorge Francisco; Fernández Alfaro, Joaquín Alberto; Muñoz Castro, María Gabriela. “Las
Primeras Damas de Costa Rica”, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad ICE, 2001. Págs. 369-386.
Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo. “Bajo los Mangos”, Editorial UNED, 2000. Págs. 25-92.
Alvarado Quirós, Alejandro. “Nuestra Tierra Prometida”, Imprenta y Librería Trejos, 1925. Págs. 105-108
Revista del Colegio de Abogados de Costa Rica, 1947. Págs. 208-210.
Interview: Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo, 23 de julio de 2002.
Internet: http://www.racsa.co.cr/asamblea/galeria/beneme/emilia.htm
          http://www.tiquicia.org/pds/pd/23-XXIII.htm
11
 Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo. “Bajo los Mangos”, Editorial UNED, 2000. Págs. 25-92.
12
 Acuerdo Legislativo # 1202 de 10 de abril de 1972, Título de Benemérita de la Patria para la Señora María
Emilia Solórzano de Guardia. Expediente N° 4753.




                                                                                                             5
women to participate in working, although, still for lower wages than men.
Women’s organizations emerged as a reaction to the new tendencies brought
from other parts of the world, their main goal was to reach equality, justice and to
gain control over their own body. From then on, in the mid sixties, when the
sexual revolution started and the contraceptive pill appeared, a great
transformation occurred in female sexuality; nothing would be discussed in the
shadows again. Women’s social and legal positions have improved as a result of
complex social change. Women of this time were not simply spectators; they took
active part in historic and political aspects of the Costa Rican life. However, up to
this day women still don’t enjoy the full political, economic, social and sexual
equality than men do.

The figure and presence of Maria Isabel Carvajal, better known as Carmen
Lyra13, has special relevance in Costa Rican literature and also in the political
spheres. Her work was influenced by the ideological changes she lived
throughout her life. She moved from Christianity to anarchism, anti-imperialism
and finally to scientific socialism and communism, the party of the working class.
She was not only a great writer; she was also a woman with great social
sensitivity.

During her youth, she represented one of the subversive political voices of 1919.
She organized groups of women to fight against the military dictatorship of
President Federico Tinoco. She and her groups made great propaganda against
the regime. Later she was a strong activist of social ideas, as a consequence of
her political actions she was sent to live in exile and never was allowed to come
back to Costa Rica. She died in Mexico. On the 23 rd of July 1976, the Legislative
Assembly declared her “Benemérita de la Cultura Nacional”, Distinguished Lady
of the National Culture.

Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia was the President of the Republic in 1940, his
first wife Yvonne Clays Spoelders14, born in Belgium but Costa Rican by
decision. She left her life, work and heart in her adopted country.

Costa Rican history reports her support in many diplomatic activities of her
husband, different to other women’s participation when traveling with their
husbands in political missions.

13
  Prada Ortíz, Grace. Mujeres forjadoras del pensamiento costarricense.Editorial Universidad Nacional,
Heredia 2005.
Internet: http://www.inamu.go.cr/set1.html
14
  Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo. El Otro Calderón Guardia. 1985.
Schifter Sikora, Jacobo. Las Alianzas Conflictivas. Editorial Libro Libre. 1986.
Sáenz Carbonell, Jorge Francisco; Fernández Alfaro, Joaquín Alberto; Muñoz Castro, María Gabriela. “Las
Primeras Damas de Costa Rica”, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad ICE, 2001. Págs. 565-576.
Interview: Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo, 23 de julio de 2002.
Internet: http://www.tiquicia.org/pds/pd/40-XL.htm



                                                                                                          6
At that time, she developed a close relationship with the United States President
Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleonor Roosevelt. During the period of the
Second World War, Yvonne Clays Spoelders was a very active negotiator
addressing important issues of national interest. She made several mission trips
to the United States representing her husband and the country. The political and
social context of that time made her activities look more relevant and aggressive
than they might apprear in our present day.

One of her major achievements is that she ensured the support of the United
States and other countries of the region for the establishment of the Inter-
American Institute for Agricultural Cooperation in Costa Rica, which is still a fine
educational institution benefiting young professionals across the continent.

Another accomplishment is the fact that she negotiated with the United States
Department of State to eliminate from the “black list” those members of
distinguished Costa Rican families that kept their Italian and German last names
from their predecessors, after the Second World War.

Yvonne Clays Spoelders and a group of friends fundraised and founded the
National Symphonic Orchestra. Its first concert was on the 31 st of October 1940
in the National Theater.

History books don’t keep the real account of Yvonne Clays Spoelders’
participation in the presidency of Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia. She was his
closer and committed collaborator. One of the major achievements of Calderon’s
administration is, without any doubt, the constitutional reform that includes the
chapter about the Social Reforms and Social Services. It is said that Yvonne
Clays Spoelders typed herself, in the old presidential house, all the drafts of this
document.

Throughout the civil war of 194815, when men went to fight, Costa Rican women
stayed home to take the responsibilities usually assigned to men. These acts of
courage and determination were made by ordinary, common women, who have
played extraordinary roles in the history of the country without any kind of
recognition. They had to look after their families, provide them food, shelter and
care. Their efforts were doubled and the only reward they had was the
satisfaction of the work well done. It is impossible to mention the names of all
these women who made unbearable sacrifices to keep control of their families,
and their business while their husbands were in the battlefield.




15
  Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo. La guerra de Figueres. Crónica de ocho años. Editorial Universidad
Estatal a Distancia. 1998.



                                                                                                        7
It wasn’t until the Constitution of 1949 that women obtained the right to vote 16,
but only on the 30th of July 1950 did women make use of this right. Bernarda
Vasquez and Maria Claudia Arce Arroyo were the first women to effectively
use the right to vote. Although women have acquired the vote they didn’t
exercise political power in proportion to their number, their political roles were still
minimal. A few attained political offices, sometimes it happened because of
women membership to political parties in power or the influence of their family
ties: occasionally, it wasn’t, necessarily, thanks to their capacities, but to the
good prospects they had.

The figure and life of Angela Acuña Braun17 is an example of the Costa Rican
women of the XX Century. She was the nation's first woman lawyer, was known
for her tenacious determination to study, as she transgressed all structures and
regulations established at that time. She played a leading role in the efforts to win
women the right to vote. She was member of a numerous number of institutions.
She created the Costa Rican Association of University women and in 1923
founded the League Pro Peace and Freedom.

In 1960, when the world was enjoying the benefits of women’s liberation, Angela
Acuña Braun was part of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. With
it, she opened new opportunities for women to reach decision-making positions,
strengthening possibilities to transform social realities and transforming the social
order to a more inclusive and equalitarian society.

Every year, in her memory, to celebrate women's rights, the National Women’s
Institute (INAMU) awards the Angela Acuña Braun prize to journalists who
present an image of women "free from molded stereotypes of behavior," and who
have contributed to the eradication of discrimination of violence against women.

While the feminist movement took shape around the world, in Costa Rica,
women campaigned on issues of political and family rights. In 1953, for the first
time, three women were elected deputies: Maria Teresa Obregon, Ana Rosa
Chacon and Estela Quesada Hernández. It is in 1971 when two active women

16
   Rodríguez S., Eugenia Dra. ¡Dotar de voto político a la mujer!. ¿Porqué se aprobó el sufragio femenino
en Costa Rica hasta 1949? Escuela de Historia, Universidad de Costa Rica. Internet.
Calvo Fajardo, Yadira. Ángela Acuña, forjadora de estrellas. Editorial Costa Rica. 1989.
Prada Ortíz, Grace. Mujeres forjadoras del pensamiento costarricense.Editorial Universidad Nacional,
Heredia 2005.
Calvo Fajardo, Yadira. Ángela Acuña y la procesión de los Sanchos. Internet:
www.fempress.cl./base/precursoras/angela.htm.
Castro Vega, Oscar. Fin de la Segunda República. Figueres y la Constituyente del 49.Imprenta y Litografía
LIL, S. A. San José, Costa Rica. 1996.
17
   Calvo Fajardo, Yadira. Ángela Acuña, forjadora de estrellas. Editorial Costa Rica. 1989.
Prada Ortíz, Grace. Mujeres forjadoras del pensamiento costarricense.Editorial Universidad Nacional,
Heredia 2005.
Calvo Fajardo, Yadira. Ángela Acuña y la procesión de los Sanchos. Internet:
www.fempress.cl./base/precursoras/angela.htm.



                                                                                                        8
lawyers, Elizabeth Odio Benito and Sonia Picado Sotela organized a march to
force the Legislative Assembly the approval of the Family Code.

Fifteen years later, during the first Presidential period of Oscar Arias, he fulfilled
one of his campaign’s promises, by opening more political spaces for women in
the Costa Rican Political System. With this action he increased opportunities for
women’s participation. Victoria Garron18 was the first woman Vice-President of
Costa Rica and Rosemary Karpinsky19 was the first woman President of
Congress.

In 1984, Costa Rica ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW). Two years later, under the lead and initiative of the
First Lady, Margarita Penon20, the National Center for Women’s and Family
Development and a group of active women, a draft for the Law on the “Promotion
of the Real equality for Women” was presented to Congress. It was approved in
1990. This document recognizes 30% as the minimum for the participation of
women in posts of popular elections.

This was the cornerstone for many laws to be approved in favor of Costa Rican
women, such as the,
    Law against domestic violence. 1996
    Law against sexual harassment in the job. 1995
    Law for the attention of women in poverty. 1998
    General Law to attend adolescent mothers. 1998
    Responsible Paternity Law. 2001

Due to the originality and the good results, the Responsible Paternity Law21
deserves special attention. It refers to the right women have to give her child the
father’s last name, ensure alimony and child support; right after the baby is born.
The law might look very simple; it says that right after a baby is born the mother
gives him/her the father’s last name. If the man believes the baby is not his, he
has to ask for a DNA test to prove it. In the past women had to fight in the
bureaucratic and anachronistic system to prove her issue. This law inverts the
burden of proof; now men have to go through a much simpler process.

In recent days, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV)
reviewed for the fourth time a bill penalizing violence against women 22. The bill

18
   Internet: http://www.pln.or.cr/pln02.htm
19
   Internet: http://www.pln.or.cr/pln02.htm
20
   Internet: Saint-Germain, Michelle A. and Morgan, Martha I. Equality: Costa Rican women demand “the
real thing”
http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=0&did=490373821&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD
&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1147120695&clientId=56598
21
   Internet:
http://www.pensamientojuridicofeminista.com/Legislacion/Leyes%20Nacionales/ley_de_paternidad_respo
nsable.html
22
   Agenda Política de Mujeres. Informe Sombra. Costa Rica 2003.


                                                                                                    9
had been debated fervently since its introduction in 1999, but legislators made a
concerted effort in recent weeks to speed its passage after a rash of domestic
violence slayings in the population during the last years. This law hasn’t passed
yet.

In the International spheres, Costa Rican women are also playing important
roles. Elizabeth Odio Benito23, a woman of our time. Throughout her life she
has been an educator, activist for the rights of women, lawyer, judge, politician
and international figure, her life presents many qualities not many professionals
can show. There are more than enough reasons for Costa Ricans to feel proud of
her innumerable achievements.

She is a professional with comprehensive practical and academic experience in
the field of human rights and international humanitarian law. She is Professor
Emeritus at the University of Costa Rica

Elizabet Odio Benito has been a member of the Costa Rican Group to the
Permanent Court of Arbitration since 2000. She was Second Vice-President of
Costa Rica from 1998 to 2002, and served twice as Minister of Justice of Costa
Rica

She was a member of the Sub-Commission on the United Nations Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the main subsidiary body of the
Commission on Human Rights. She is the author and co-author of several
publications on human rights, international humanitarian law and international
criminal law. From 1983 to 1986 she was Special Rapporteur to the United
Nations Sub-Commission on Discrimination and Intolerance based on Religion or
Creed.

From 1993 to 1995, Judge Odio Benito served as Vice-President of the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where she was
a judge until 1998. In 2000 she was elected President of the Working Group on
the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In February 2003 Judge Elizabeth Odio was one of the 18 judges elected by the
Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, position in which
she is still acting.

The human rights activist and politician, Sonia Picado Sotela24, graduated
summa cum laude from the University of Costa Rica Law School in 1968, and in
1980 became the first female dean of a public law school in Latin America.

Internet: La Nación Digital. http://nacion.com/ln_ee/2006/abril/26/ultima-sr690154.html
23
   Internet: http://www.pensamientojuridicofeminista.com/curricula/elizabeth_odio.html
24
     Internet: http://www.humansecurity-chs.org/about/profile/picado.html


                                                                                          10
Sonia Picado is renowned for promoting and protecting international civic,
economic, and political liberties not only in her native Costa Rica, but around the
world. Throughout her distinguished career as a political leader, ambassador, law
school dean and professor, and jurist, Sonia Picado has worked tirelessly to
champion human rights around the world.

As executive director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights from 1984
to 1994, she worked to establish fair elections in Latin America while fostering
the idea that true democracy cannot be achieved while poverty and other social
ills remain. Also during this time, she was elected to the Inter-American Court for
Human Rights. She resigned after serving as vice president of the court to
become the Costa Rican ambassador to the United States.

She was a member of Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly. She is currently
president of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Institute of Human
Rights, member of the University for Peace Council and a member of the Pacific
Council on International Policy. She was appointed as one of ten distinguished
members of the international Commission on Human Security, formed by U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Recently, on May 2nd of this year she was appointed, as the first woman to be
President of the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture.

In Costa Rica, we are not far from other countries’ misfortunes. Unhappily, in
some areas, women suffer similar conditions as women across the world.
Domestic violence is a problem for women. This aggression and abuse to human
rights of women is important to look at and fight against. The main objective of
this kind of aggression is to perpetuate women’s subordination.

The State of the World Population 200025, presents that “discrimination and
violence against women continues firmly anchored in cultures around the world”.

The National Institute for Women26 (INAMU) in Costa Rica reported that during
the first six months of 2005, husbands or companions have killed 20 women.
This is an alarming number, especially if we consider that Costa Rica is a country
of less than 4 million people and it is recognized as a non-violent country, with a
history of a culture of peace, as it is proudly the only country without an army in
the Central American region. However the culture of domestic violence is
currently prevailing and more visible.

Internet: http://www.pensamientojuridicofeminista.com/curricula/sonia_picado.html

25
     United Nations Population Fund

26
 INAMU, Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, Costa Rican Public Office dealing with issues related to
women.


                                                                                                      11
The number of killings is increasing every year, despite several actions such as
the passage of many national laws, the media informing about the facts, the work
done by several governmental and non-governmental institutions and the
penalization involved. In these circumstances government, universities and
society have been working closely, dealing with the prevention and punishment
of these frequent crimes against women. But the results have been negative for
many women, because, as it has been proved: laws, information and penalties
are not enough to protect them.

Intensive research has to be done to find advanced and realistic solutions to
prevent and protect women from this particular type of social crime. It is
necessary to identify the profound roots in which this problem is based, such as
the prevailing culture, social characteristics and political developments in the
family, the community and the country as a whole.

Domestic violence has to be contextualized within the larger framework of gender
discrimination that women live under. Costa Rica has created the National
System for Prevention and attention for Domestic Violence27, it is composed by
governmental institutions, Non-governmental Organizations, Civil Society and
University members, this is a problem whose characteristics demand a holistic
and integrated approach, for which multiple sectors must be responsible.

In closing, I would like to say that this is just a short account of the participation of
a small group of women in the building of Costa Rica. There are many more
women, who have dedicated their talents and gifts to inspire the country we have
today. I would like to mention a few of them here, in the fields of:

Literature: Manuela Escalante, Amalia Montagné, Yadira Calvo, Rosibel Morera,
Julieta Pinto, Yolanda Oreamuno, Eunice Odio, Carmen Naranjo.

Human and Women´s Rights: Alda Facio, Sara Sharratt, María Emilia
Solórzano Alfaro.

Education: Luisa González, Monserrat Sagot, Cora Ferro Calabrese, Ana Rosa
Chacón, Ester Silva, Andrea Venegas, Lilia González, María Ortíz, Teodora
Ortíz, Vitalia Madrigal, Matilde Carranza, Victoria Madrigal, Emma Gamboa
Alvarado.




27
  Internet:
http://www.cnree.go.cr/datos/datoscompendio/Decretos/Decreto%2029236.%20Reforma%20del%20Regla
mento%20del%20Sistema%20Nacional%20Atenci%C3%B3n%20y%20Prevenci%C3%B3n%20de%20la
%20Violencia%20Familiar.htm



                                                                                           12
Culture and Arts: María Fernández de Tinoco, Emilia Prieto, María Prétiz,
Natalia Esquivel, Guadalupe Urbina, Ana Istarú, Ana Cristina Rossi, Leda
Astorga, Cristina Gigirey, Hilda Hidalgo.

Sports: The sisters, Claudia and Sylvia Poll Ahrens, María del Milagro París,
Mayra Soto Hernández.

Finally, I would like to honor all those anonimous women in Costa Rica, those
who day by day go to work on the fields, in the markets, in factories and as
professionals. All those who are fighting against the odds and are breaking new
ground for the new generations to have a much better life.


Thank you.




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