Women's organizations in Ecuador have welcomed President Lenin Moreno's decision to hold talks with them and his plan of action to address gender violence in the country.
“The meeting recognizes decades of struggles of feminist movements and women groups and it contributes to making gender violence more visible,” Lily Rodriguez, President of the Ecuadorean Center for Women's Promotion and Action, or CEPAM told teleSUR.
Around 50 representatives from women's groups took part in the discussions on Wednesday
Rodriguez said the meeting promoted citizen participation as well as diversity in the country.
She added that although the previous government of Rafael Correa made efforts to eradicate gender violence, she believed they were “not enough..indigenous and rural women were not included, and above all there was no real intention to hold dialogue with women and civil society.”
Gender violence and femicides were the main focus of the meeting.
76 murders of women have been reported in the country since the start of 2017. This is double the figure from the same period last year, and corresponds to about one killing every two and a half days.
In several cases, men have killed their former partners before commiting suicide, leaving children orphaned.
Stephanie Altamirano, spokesperson for Sarkuna, a feminist organization specialized in the defense of reproductive rights, welcomed the fact that the issue of gender violence was addressed as a key focus in the meeting.
President Moreno promised to “start a strong and intense crusade … so men don't believe they are born with more rights than women”. Moreno also highlighted his wife Rocio Gonzalez's project called “All life long” which aims to build a society free of gender violence.
Justice Minister Roxana Alvarado invited women groups to take part in debates around the new bill on gender violence.
While the Health vice-minister committed to amending the Health Code which considers that life starts from the very beginning of pregnancy.
Early pregnancies were also discussed in the context of gender violence, but some women groups said they regretted that the government is only considering small modifications on the full ban on abortion.
More than 2,000 girls under 14 years old become pregnant every year in Ecuador.
The overwhelming majority — 80 percent according to the official estimate — as a result of a rape.
Under pressure from the women's organizations, Ecuador's President expressed interest in legalizing abortion in a few exceptions like the case of rape or early pregnancies. “But we could not really put this issue further on the agenda because it was not about reproductive rights,” commented the Sarkuna spokesperson Altamirano.
“We don't have hopes, but rather expectations about public policies,” she added, “but we are pressuring in order to see how far we could change the abortion ban.”
In Ecuador, 241 women have been sentenced between January 2013 and May 2017 according to the official estimate, and unsafe abortion is the third cause of mortality for women, more than 130 died last year.