Vice president of Panama joins GQUAL, the global campaign for gender parity in international tribunals

Washington, D.C. and Panama City, November 24, 2015.- On the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado joined GQUAL, a global campaign that seeks to promote gender parity in international tribunals and monitoring bodies.

The Vice President was joined by Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation, María Luisa Navarro, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Miguel Hincapié, who also signed the “GQUAL Declaration”, which establishes the main strategies and objectives of the campaign in order to achieve gender equality in international representation.

According to a study by the campaign, women are under-represented in almost all international and regional tribunals and the monitoring agencies responsible for making important decisions for societies, including on issues of human rights, gun control, and peace and security. As of September 2015, only 17% of positions in the major international courts were occupied by women and in the regional human rights courts only 25%. Of the 52 UN Special Procedures, which include Special Rapporteurships on various thematic issues and countries as well as Working Groups, 19 have never been occupied by a woman.

“It is unacceptable that in 2015 women continue to be under-represented in public and private spheres, even in the international sphere, therefore, the Panamanian State is committed to a cross-cutting approach to gender equality in order close labor gaps, social obstacles and barriers of any kind, and thus ensure that all women are fully incorporated into the development of our country,” de Saint Malo de Alvarado indicated, adding moreover, that in this spirit, Panama shares the objectives of the GQUAL campaign because fully incorporating 50% of the population is essential to meeting the development challenges that we still face.

The signatures of the Vice President, and Deputy Ministers join the more than 700 people from 78 countries around the world who have supported the objectives of the campaign, including representatives from other governments, former and current members of international bodies and tribunals, prominent academics, activists, lawyers, judges and human rights defenders. It is expected that in the coming days, more Ministers of the Government of Panama will join the campaign.

“We congratulate Panama for taking this step toward equality and greater representation in the international sphere. Governments have a fundamental role to play in the promotion of gender equality in the courts and international protection bodies, since they can influence the final composition of these bodies through the nomination and voting processes” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and spokesperson for the GQUAL campaign. She added that, “the support of the Vice President and representatives of the State of Panama, is certainly a milestone for the campaign. This commitment represents an impetus for Panama and other countries worldwide to develop policies that promote gender parity as a consideration in the selection processes for these international bodies.”

GQUAL is a collaborative global effort to reverse this inequality. The campaign was launched on September 15, 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City with the support of the governments of Argentina, Costa Rica, Norway, Sweden and Panama. The campaign seeks the commitment of States to nominate and vote for international positions taking into account gender parity, and the development of mechanisms, guidelines and standards on the part of the national governments, international organizations and the courts and monitoring agencies that promote selection processes that can ensure equality in international representation.