The first annual Gender Justice of the Americas Conference commenced today. The two-day meeting, organized by Miami Law, focuses on revitalizing and challenging the transnational dialogue regarding sexuality, violence, reproductive and human rights.
Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at Miami Law, brought together scholars and human rights advocates from more than 20 countries throughout the Americas and Caribbean to participate in the conference. To alleviate any language barriers, there is translation in both English and Spanish throughout the conference.
Keynote speaker Rebecca Cook, Professor of Law at the University of Toronto, was one of many advocates who took to the podium on the first day of the event. As the leading scholar of gender and human rights, Professor Cook set the tone for the conference and took the moment to recognize the dire need for people to come together about issues regarding gender justice.
When speaking about gender justice and human rights, governments "can't ignore that women are human beings," said Mrs. Cook, who emphasized the constitutive role of law in order to positively affect these rights and the need to redefine religious practices.
Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and inaugural President of United Nations Women, recorded a video address for the Gender Justice of the Americas Conference. U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, is also expected to take part in the event.
The hopes of this conference is not only to discuss the human rights pitfalls across boarders, but also to critically think about the common threads each country shares so that an impact can be made as a global force.
Jorge Contesse from the Diego Portales University of Chile, addressed the audience in Spanish. He brought attention to the hand-in-hand efforts academics have with advocates who inform and push for change in communities. "Without that, the contribution of our research is useless," he said, adding that the power of bringing academics, advocates and legal minds together in one room to think and effect change for the future simply makes sense.
Others figures in attendance include: Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, the Adjunct Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Susana Chiarotti, Member of the Advisory Board for the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights (CLADEM); Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights; and Miami Law Dean Patricia D. White.