Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women


The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women is one of the special mechanisms overseen by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission created the Rapporteurship during its 85th Session in 1994. See, e.g., IACHR, Press Release, No. 1/94, 5 January 1994 (Spanish only). The Office of the Rapporteur addresses discrimination and violence against women, in an effort to ensure that women’s human rights are protected and promoted the throughout the Organization of American States (OAS) Member States.


One of the Commission’s seven Commissioners is selected to be the Rapporteur for a three-year term, which may be renewed once. Each Commissioner serves in an independent capacity and does not represent his or her country of citizenship. The Commissioner who holds the office undertakes his or her work on a part-time basis, including during the three times per year that the Commission is in session. One or more lawyers in the Commission’s Executive Secretariat, in Washington, D.C., assist the Rapporteur.

The Rapporteur has many duties, including conducting country visits to OAS Member States, undertaking specialized studies, and preparing publications. These studies and publications provide States with guidance on how to fulfill their international obligations relating to the human rights of women. The Rapporteurship also advises the Commission in its processing of individual petitions, cases, and requests for provisional and precautionary measures that involve women’s rights. On its website, the Rapporteurship lists the Inter-American decisions and jurisprudence related to women’s rights.

Country Visits

The Rapporteurship conducts country visits to OAS Member States, with their consent. The Rapporteur is often accompanied by other members of the Commission or members of the Executive Secretariat staff. During country visits, the Rapporteur often engages with government officials, in an attempt to promote State compliance with different measures the Commission has granted, including precautionary measures or settlement agreements and recommendations. The Rapporteur also collaborates with women and civil society organizations to expand his or her understanding of the challenges facing the enforcement of women’s rights. The Rapporteurship provides brief descriptions of its country visits on its webpage, and also links to sections of country reports published by the Commission following more general on-site visits.

Receiving Information

Aside from information gathered during country visits, the Rapporteurship often obtains information through promotional activities on women’s rights, including the organization of seminars, workshops, and specialized meetings. The Rapporteurship is often invited to participate in forums on women’s rights and regional meetings of international experts on women’s rights. The Office of the Rapporteur has also issued questionnaires to gather information for its reports.

Additionally, the Commission holds thematic hearings to gather information from States and civil society on particular issues. The Rapporteur may participate in these hearings or refer to the information discussed in subsequent reports. View the Commission’s searchable database of public hearings to see those related to women’s rights.


The Rapporteurship has worked with the Commission to prepare thematic reports on issues affecting women’s rights, including discrimination against women with regard to their economic, social, and cultural rights, and on securing women’s access to justice when they are victims of violence. The Rapporteurship has a duty to provide the Commission with annual reports of its activities, which the Commission then shares in its own Annual Reports to the OAS General Assembly. The Rapporteurship has collected excerpts of these reports related to its activities through 2009 on its website. To view reports on the Rapporteurship’s activities in more recent years, see the Commission’s annual reports page.


The Rapporteurship may be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

The Rapporteurship does not receive individual complaints or requests for precautionary measures. Such petitions and requests must be addressed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. For additional information, see the petition form or IJRC’s resources on the Inter-American human rights system.