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The World's First Treaty of Equality for Women - Montevideo, Uruguay, 1933

The Seventh International Conference of American States (Montevideo, 1933) marked a major turning point in inter-American relations, ushering in an era of greater mutual respect and cooperation between the nations of the Americas. Appropriately, it was also the occasion of a major victory for the women of the Americas in their struggle for equality.

The first CIM directors were scheduled to present a study on the status of women in the Americas to that Conference. This was the first Conference to see women included in the attending delegations, thus honoring the 1923 promise.

The Conference did not approve the Treaty on the Equality of Rights for Women, although four countries (Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay) did sign it. The Conference did adopt the Convention on Nationality of Women which enabled a woman to retain her own nationality in the event of marriage to a man of another nationality. This treaty was the first international instrument ever adopted concerning the rights of women. This watershed convention was a catalyst for recognition by the League of Nations of the existence and validity of the women's rights movement in the region.

The Commission achieved its objective so well that the delegates at the 1933 conference were astounded. The constitutions and the laws of the twenty-one American republics were examined, principally in regard to the inequality of rights. The Commission presented to the Seventh Conference printed monographs analyzing the legal status of women in each of the twenty-one countries. Summaries of the laws pertaining to women and their limited civil and political rights in each one of the American republics, in the official language of their respective countries, were presented in compliance with the resolution of the Fifth International Conference of American States of 1923. Prepared exclusively by women, they were the first studies of this nature in the world. The Inter-American Commission of Women also recommended the adoption of draft treaties on the equality of rights and the nationality of women.

As Doris Stevens, President of CIM, voyaged to Montevideo by ship, she gathered supporters and members of the Commission who attended the Seventh International Conference of American States (1933)

 

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