In this study ways are put forward for implementing the standards and norms in the
Women’s Convention at the national level of Curaçao. The central question is how this
Convention can be used as a tool to improve the position of women. Special attention is
paid to the implementation of the provisions on the abolition of gender stereotypes and on
the rights of women in the family. These provisions have a dynamic nature and contribute to
the uniqueness of the Convention as an international human rights law instrument.
Since 2010 Curaçao has been an ‘autonomous’ country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands
and as such its State organs and agencies have the obligation under the Women’s Convention
to realise women’s rights. However, socio-cultural classifications and mechanisms embedded
in a colonial past, imperialism, prejudices based on ethnicity and racism all influence the
way gender-relations are constructed and thus determine the position of women in this
society. These classifications and mechanisms keep both indirectly and directly harmful
gender-based stereotypes and fixed parental roles in place. Furthermore, they affect the way
in which institutions like family law are viewed and applied by the State organs concerned.
A proactive approach to the implementation of the Women’s Convention is proposed:
namely, making local actors aware of their obligation to address the discrimination against
women, as well as oppression, ill-treatment and backwardness of women. Moreover, a
contextual approach is suggested to ensure a process of transformation and change at the
Two pillars of the investigation are the State accountability in the realisation of women’s
rights on the one hand, and the possible contribution of NGOs to the empowerment of local
women on the other hand. The study develops general socio-historical and legal parameters
that need to be taken into consideration when putting into practice a framework for the
realisation of women’s rights at country level.
The designed framework uses the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to development
as put forward by the United Nations. An analysis based on the elements of Participation,
Accountability, Non-discrimination, Empowerment and Linkage (PANEL) with human
rights is proposed. The most prominent elements are Accountability, which includes the
presence of an effective National Human Rights Protection System (NHRPS), and a nondiscrimination
framework starting from a gender perspective. The HRBA implies the
incorporation of human rights standards and principles in domestic policies, laws and
programmes, paying due attention to the advancement of local women in their struggle
against poverty, discrimination, backwardness and exclusion.
Special attention is paid to Articles 5 and 16 Women’s Convention, which are incorporated
in the framework, in which each element of the PANEL analysis is addressed. Curaçaoan
women as rights-holders and State agencies as duty-bearers are identified. The contributions
and role of the main actors thus far, such as the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and
NGOs are considered. At the end some recommendations are given to the actors involved as
to how to realise women’s rights from a contextual approach in this small Caribbean island.