San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Women Celebrate Day Calling for Equality

WOMEN in Costa Rica celebratedtheir rights as well as exercised themTuesday in honor of InternationalWomen’s Day.A group of women’s organizations,collectively called Mesoamerican Womenin Resistance, formally presented to theLegislative Assembly their objections tothe Central American Free-TradeAgreement with the United States(CAFTA).During a morning ceremony, thewomen told legislators the trade agreementwill negatively impact the quality of life ofCosta Rican women by limiting employment,causing deterioration of public services,and preventing access to genericmedicines.Hours later, the National Women’sInstitute (INAMU) announced a plan toimprove women’s access to employmentand services by developing a national policyof “equality and fairness in gender.”THE long-term plan aims to create anational, inclusive policy to guarantee thehuman rights of women, confront discriminationand promote development.Specifically, the project will create adiagnosis of the current situation ofwomen in Costa Rica and delineate necessarystrategies to accomplish goals.The policy will be formed throughconsultations with public and private organizations,including the Ombudsman’sOffice, the Supreme Elections Tribunal,the Legislative, Executive and Judicialbranches, women’s organizations, churches,political parties and private businesses.State institutions as well as women’s organizationswill monitor it.WHILE this process is just beginning,President Abel Pacheco this week celebratedwhat his administration has alreadydone in improving the lives of women.Roger Carvajal, president of theNational Training Institute (INA),announced during Pacheco’s regular weeklyCabinet meeting Tuesday that INA isstudents away from achieving the administration’sgoal of training 260,000 womenfrom 2002-2006. Since 2002, 234,170women have been trained by the institution,representing 52.7% of all students.“Every year, more women are participating,”Carvajal said.In addition, the Mixed Institute forSocial Aid (IMAS) boasted success in the“Growing Together Program,” an interinstitutionalprogram aimed at decreasingpoverty among women through programspromoting self-esteem, abuse preventionand job training.Through the program, 2,758 womenwere trained last year, a figure that wellsurpassed the program’s 2004 goal of1,480 women.International Women’s Day was officiallydeclared March 8 by the UnitedNations in 1975.

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