The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) works to promote racial and ethnic equality for Afro-descendant and indigenous communities – a unique focus among international human rights organizations. We work with Afro-descendant organizations in Panama, as well as with a wide range of organizations in Latin America fighting racial discrimination or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to information from the 2010 National Census, in Panama, 9.2% of the population self-identified as “Afro-descendant.” However, both Afro-Panamanian organizations and the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) agree that the figure under-represents the actual Afro-Panamanian population.

Race and Equality works to strengthen the capacity of Afro-Panamanian organizations through the use of trainings and exchanges with other regional activists on the importance of developing an adequate, ethnic/racial self-identification question for the Afro-descendant population, with the goal of using the data obtained from household surveys, and the upcoming 2020 National Census to more accurately reflect the percentage of the Afro-Panamanian population.
It is hoped that Afro-Panamanian civil society and the INEC can learn from past experiences such as those in Peru, where Race and Equality contributed to the work and the effective dialogue between Afro-Peruvian civil society and the National Institute of Data and Statistics (INEI), in the development of a self-identification question. In addition, we strengthen the work that the National Secretariat for Afro-Panamanian Development (SENADAP) does with Afro-Panamanian organizations in order to guarantee the inclusion of an Afro-Panamanian approach in the census.

Race and Equality strengthens the capacity of our counterparts and the leaders of the various countries in which we work, so that they can actively participate in the OAS General Assembly, the Summit of the Americas Process, the Inter-American Human Rights Protection System, as well as the United Nations committee that monitors the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the committee that monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), through the provision of training, technical assistance, and political advocacy.

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