Transsexuals’ organizations to defend women’s rights: the “Montevideo Strategy” for gender equality.

By Marianna Orlandi, Ph.D. | November 15, 2016

Last month, at the 13th Regional Conference on Women, 38 Latin American and Caribbean states adopted the “Montevideo Strategy”, a document designed to “Achieve Gender Equality in the Region by 2030”.

The Strategy advocates for absolute sexual and reproductive autonomy of both women and girls. It calls for ensuring “safe, good-quality abortion services,” (“in those cases where abortion is legal or decriminalized under the relevant national legislation”); for providing comprehensive sexuality education to the whole region, and it emphasizes the importance of defending, and advancing “LGBT rights”.

Throughout its 74 measures, grouped in 10 pillars of action, the ambitious Strategy, self-described as a “roadmap” for implementation of previous agreements, suggests language – and measures – that are either novel, or that were previously contemplated only in (equally) nonbinding documents. Language and measures that would violate the laws of several Latin American and Caribbean states.

The document repeatedly, interchangeably refers to women and transsexuals; to feminists’ and to LGBT’s organizations; it also equates discrimination of women to a non-better-defined “transphobia”. It literally proclaims: “The  past  few  years  have  seen  a  resurgence  in  discriminatory  and  violent  patriarchal  practices, discourses and cultural patterns based in the culture of privilege that restrict the full exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, and the recognition of different types of family, sexual diversity and gender identity.” And it continues: “The discrimination and violence that  lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons  face by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity are evident in the obstacles they encounter in access to  health  care,  good-quality  employment,  legal  forms  of  union  and  family  composition,  and  identity registration.”

References to LGBT discrimination in a strategy on women’s rights suggests that the drafters of the document – i.e. the Secretariat of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) – adopted an interpretation of “gender” – and of gender equality – inconsistent with the internationally agreed one. For the Strategy, “gender” does not encompass the two sexes (as it should, in light of the internationally binding Rome Statute’s definition of the term). Gender is here a “social construct”; all it takes to “be” a woman, and to enjoy women’s rights, is to “feel” as one.



Many protections that international law particularly reserves to women and girls, however, are rooted in the factual biological differences between women and men, and are meant to overcome them.

Furthermore, the Montevideo Strategy demands implementation of “sexual rights” throughout the region. These “rights”, unlike “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights,” are not contemplated at the UN level. They found their first definition only three years ago, in the nonbinding Montevideo Consensus, sponsored by the same ECLAC.

Remarkably, the delegations of ECLAC’s member states did not object to the Strategy, if not in a very mild, almost undetectable way. Their reservations are nowhere mentioned in the resolution, nor are they otherwise available.

Civil society’s representatives reported that only Nicaragua objected to the whole document, while Paraguay and Colombia merely suggested inclusion of a qualifier protecting states’ sovereignties. Bachelet’s Chile strongly supported the Strategy, being represented by a delegate with a radical feminist curriculum.

“Maria Cristina Perceval, the regional Director of UNICEF, gave the most aggressive pro-teenage-abortion speech I ever heard in my entire life”, an observer reported.

UNICEF’s progressive involvement in abortion matters, however, is not surprising. Last month, UNFPA released a report on the importance of providing access to “sexual and reproductive health-care services” to young, very young girls: “at the latest” – when they are ten.

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