ELLA Guide: Tackling gender violence in Latin America


Gender violence not only constitutes a severe violation of women’s rights, but also affects society as a whole. Unfortunately, gender violence persists worldwide representing a challenge for many regions and countries. Latin America has adopted a two-fold approach to tackling gender violence. First, the creation of the only regional commitment to eradicating gender violence, which clearly establishes the responsibilities of states to safeguard women’s rights. Second, countries in the region have implemented a range of mechanisms at the national level to tackle specific forms of violence, such as domestic violence and femicide laws, the creation of gender observatories, as well as programmes for building safer cities for women. This Guide begins with an overview of violence against women in the world and Latin America, before analysing a selection of Latin American responses, achievements and the lessons learned so far.

Key Findings include:

  • The existence of a strong regional human rights system, with institutions that have jurisdiction over states, plays a fundamental role in efforts to eliminate gender violence. In Latin America, the Inter-American System of Human Rights has the authority to hold states responsible for cases of gender violence and provides victims with an independent mechanism for demanding that their rights be upheld.
  • The creation of a regional convention on gender violence can provide a powerful instrument for setting binding obligations for states to implement measures to prevent, eradicate and punish acts of violence against women. Such conventions can be strengthened by follow-up mechanisms that ensure compliance.
  • The Latin American approach demonstrates that it is important to understand gender violence from a women’s rights perspective and not merely as a criminal problem. In doing so, public policy can be designed to include a more comprehensive and effective approach to prevention and treatment.


Oropeza, J.; Perron, M.; Toledo, C. ELLA Guide: Tackling gender violence in Latin America. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2014) 21 pp.

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