Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report
* Adopted by the Committee at its fifty-eighth session (30 June-18 July 2014).
of Lithuania *
1.The Committee considered the fifth periodic report of Lithuania (CEDAW/C/LTU/5) at its 1229th and 1230th meetings, on 9 July 2014 (see CEDAW/C/SR.1229 and 1230). The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/LTU/Q/5 and the responses of Lithuania are contained in CEDAW/C/LTU/Q/5/Add.1.
2.The Committee appreciates that the State party submitted its fifth periodic report, which generally follows the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It also appreciates the State party’s written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-sessional working group and welcomes the oral presentation by the delegation and the further clarifications provided, including written information, in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee during the dialogue.
3.The Committee notes the State party’s delegation, which was headed by the Vice-Minister of Social Security and Labour, Gintaras Klimavičius, and included representatives of various ministries, government agencies and the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue that took place between the delegation and the Committee.
4.The Committee welcomes the progress achieved since the consideration in 2008 of the State party’s third and fourth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/LTU/3 and CEDAW/C/LTU/4) in undertaking legislative reforms, in particular the adoption of the following:
(a)Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure aimed at more effective investigation of and sanctions against perpetrators of sexual abuse of children and violence against women and provision of more immediate support to victims of those crimes, in 2013 and 2014;
(b)Law on State-guaranteed legal aid, in 2013;
(c)Amendments to the law on equal opportunities for women and men, providing for obligations for public institutions and municipalities to develop programmes and measures aimed at ensuring equal treatment of women and men and for the incorporation of such measures into strategic plans, in 2012 and 2013;
(d)Law on protection against domestic violence, in 2011.
5.The Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to improve its institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting gender equality, such as the adoption of the following national programmes:
(a)National Programme for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Provision of Assistance to Victims for 2014-2020;
(b)National Programme for the Prevention of Abuse of Children and Assistance for Children for 2011-2015;
(c)National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men and its Action Plan for 2010-2014.
6.The Committee welcomes the fact that, in the period since the consideration of the previous reports, the State party has ratified or acceded to the following international instruments:
(a)Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in 2014;
(b)International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, in 2013;
(c)Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto, in 2010;
(d)1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, in 2013.
C.Principal areas of concern and recommendations
7. The Committee stresses the crucial role of the legislative power in ensuring the full implementation of the Convention (see the statement by the Committee on its relationship with parliamentarians, adopted at the forty-fifth session, in 2010). It invites the parliament, in line with its mandate, to take the necessary steps regarding the implementation of the present concluding observations between now and the next reporting period under the Convention.
Visibility of the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the Committee’s general recommendations
8.The Committee welcomes the information that the Supreme Court of Lithuania invoked the Convention, specifically its article 2, in the civil case of 11 April 2014 (No. 3K-3-199/2014). The Committee also notes that the Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto are available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that the Committee’s concluding observations are circulated to relevant ministries, authorities and non-governmental organizations. The Committee is nonetheless concerned that there is inadequate awareness of the Convention in general, the procedures under the Optional Protocol to file claims of violations of women’s rights, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Committee’s views and recommendations on individual communications and inquiries.
9. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Disseminate and give publicity to the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the Committee ’ s general recommendations among all segments of society and facilitate access to information on the Committee ’ s views and recommendations on individual communications and inquiries, including through capacity-building programmes for lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police officers and other law enforcement officials;
(b) Raise awareness among women of their rights under the Convention and of legal remedies available at the national and local levels, including through information campaigns and the media.
Definition of equality and non-discrimination
10.The Committee notes the existence of a solid legal and institutional framework to ensure equality and protection against discrimination on various grounds, including sex and gender. The Committee is concerned, however, that the laws on equal treatment and equal opportunities for women and men do not adequately protect women against multiple or intersecting forms of discrimination based on ethnicity, age, disability or other ground. The Committee is particularly concerned about the absence of court cases involving multiple or intersecting forms of discrimination.
11. The Committee urges the State party to amend its anti-discrimination and equal opportunities laws to ensure that they explicitly protect women from multiple or intersecting forms of discrimination.
Access to justice and legal complaint mechanisms
12.The Committee is concerned at the limited effectiveness and lack of visibility of the Office of the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities, the low number of complaints of sex- and gender-based discrimination dealt with (only 14 per cent of all complaints) and the absence of disaggregated data on the regional distribution and outcome of such complaints. The Committee is also concerned about the delay in appointing the new Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities (the position having remained vacant for more than six months), the absence of regional and local branches of the Office, the limited application of administrative sanctions by the Ombudsman in cases of sex- and gender-based discrimination and the limited financial and human resources of the Office.
13. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Appoint the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities without further delay;
(b) Raise awareness among women of the remedies available to them to claim violations of their rights under the Convention;
(c) Collect disaggregated data on the geographical distribution and outcomes of complaints of sex- and gender-based discrimination;
(d) Establish regional and local branches of the Office of the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities to facilitate access for women throughout the State party and provide the Office with sufficient financial and human resources to enable it to fully implement its mandate to protect women ’ s rights and promote gender equality;
(e) Give due consideration to the views and recommendations of the Ombudsman when adopting legislation or formulating policies and programmes, in particular in the area of gender equality and women ’ s rights.
National machinery for the advancement of women
14.The Committee notes with concern the limited mandate and authority and level of representation of line ministries in the Commission on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, which monitors and coordinates the implementation of the National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The Committee is also concerned about the understaffing (three employees) of and lack of funding for the Gender Equality Unit of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, which serves as the secretariat of the Commission and implements gender equality programmes, in addition to the absence of coordination mechanisms to ensure gender mainstreaming at the municipal level. The Committee is also concerned about the gender-neutral nature of the National Programme and the insufficient assessment of the results achieved in its implementation. The Committee notes the inadequate funding of women’s rights non-governmental organizations and their limited involvement in the implementation of the National Programme.
15. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen the mandate and authority of and the level of representation of line ministries in the Commission on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men to enable it to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the National Programme effectively;
(b) Increase the financial and human resources of the Gender Equality Unit;
(c) Ensure that every ministry allocates a special budget for the effective implementation of the National Programme;
(d) Evaluate the gender-neutral aspects of the National Programme for their potential impact and discriminatory effects, in practice, on women because pre-existing gender inequalities are not addressed (see general recommendation No. 28, para. 16);
(e) Ensure monitoring of the effectiveness of the National Programme in all regions of the State party based on time-bound targets and indicators and extend the application of the National Programme beyond 2014;
(f) Adequately fund women ’ s rights non-governmental organizations and increase their involvement in the implementation of the National Programme.
National human rights institutions
16.While noting that the State party has a Seimas ombudsman, an ombudsman for equal opportunities and a children’s ombudsman, the Committee is concerned about the absence of a national human rights institution in compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles).
17. The Committee recommends that the State party establish, within a clear time frame, an independent national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles whose competencies should include issues relating to the equality of women and men.
Temporary special measures
18.The Committee reiterates its concern that no temporary special measures have been adopted by the State party to accelerate substantive equality of women and men, notwithstanding the fact that article 2 of the law on equal opportunities for women and men and the Action Plan of the National Programme provide for the adoption of temporary special measures if specific legislation is passed by the parliament.
19. In the light of its previous concluding observations ( CEDAW/C/LTU/CO/4 , para. 13), the Committee recommends that the State party adopt temporary special measures to promote substantive equality of women and men in such areas as education, employment and participation in political and public life and to address the situation of disadvantaged women in all areas covered by the Convention. The Committee recommends that the law on equal opportunities for women and men be amended so as to simplify the procedure for the adoption and application of such measures. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that all relevant officials are familiar with the concept of temporary special measures and to encourage their application in line with article 4 (1) of the Convention and the Committee ’ s general recommendation No. 25 on the subject.
20.The Committee reiterates its concern at the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted gender stereotypes concerning the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society, which continue to be reflected in the media, education materials, traditional educational choices of women, their disadvantaged position in the labour market and the widespread violence against women. The Committee is also concerned that the media persistently convey stereotyped and sometimes degrading images of women and that the monitoring and supervision of such representations are insufficient.
21. The Committee recommends that the State party include the elimination of discriminatory gender stereotypes as a key priority area when a developing a new national programme for the equality of women and men and its action plan. The Committee also recommends that the State party review, as a matter of priority, textbooks and materials at all levels of education to eliminate gender stereotypes, in addition to encouraging the media to project positive images of women and the equal status of women and men in public and private life.
Violence against women, including domestic violence
22.While welcoming the signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence in June 2013, the Committee expresses concern at the prevalence of violence against women in the State party and regrets that the State party has not adopted a comprehensive strategy aimed at eliminating sex- and gender-based violence against women in all its forms in public and private life. The Committee is also concerned about the insufficient information on the evaluation of the implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Violence against Women 2010-2012, which indicates inadequate monitoring of the implementation of policies and measures and evaluation of results achieved. The Committee is further concerned about the insufficient data on acts of violence against women that have been reported, investigated and prosecuted and the inadequate assistance and number of shelters available to women who are victims of violence.
23. Recalling its general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women, the Committee urges the State party:
(a) To expedite the harmonization of legislation in accordance with the Convention and the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and the harmonization;
(b) To adopt a comprehensive strategy, which would complement the National Programme for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Provision of Assistance to Victims for 2014-2020, aimed at eliminating sex- and gender-based violence against women in all its forms in public and private life, and set up an adequate coordinating and monitoring mechanism, or mandate an existing mechanism, to effectively prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women;
(c) To regularly collect, analyse and publish data on cases of all forms of violence against women and girls that have been reported, investigated and prosecuted;
(d) To provide crisis and walk-in centres that offer protection and assistance to all women who are victims of violence;
(e) To ensure an adequate geographical distribution and number of shelters and the provision of a range of services for victims.
24.The Committee notes with appreciation the adoption of the law on protection against domestic violence, which addresses sex- and gender-based violence against women in intimate partnerships. The Committee also notes the adoption of the National Programme for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Provision of Assistance to Victims for 2014-2020, the fact that an action plan for the period 2014-2016 is currently being prepared and the establishment of an inter-institutional working group to coordinate protection against domestic violence. It is, however, concerned at the gender neutrality of the legislation and relevant policies, which has an impact on their effective implementation, the inadequate provision of services, the limited monitoring and enforcement of protection orders imposed on perpetrators and the low number of prosecutions and sentences in domestic violence cases. The Committee is also concerned at the excessive use of reconciliatory mediation for victims of domestic violence and the possibility that a reconciliatory institute may be developed in the criminal process. The Committee is further concerned that marital rape has not been explicitly criminalized.
25. The C ommittee urges the State party:
(a) To ensure that the law on protection against domestic violence and relevant policies are implemente d in a gender-sensitive manner;
(b) To effectively enforce and monitor compliance with protection orders imposed on per petrators of domestic violence;
(c) To effectively prosecute and punish per petrators of domestic violence;
(d) To end the use of reconciliatory mediation for victims of domestic violence and refrain from adopting reconciliatory mediation in the criminal process, given that such procedures may increase the vulnerability of wom en who are victims of violence;
(e) To amend the Criminal Code with a view to explicitly criminalizing marital rape.
Trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution
26.The Committee is concerned about the absence of comprehensive legislation and strategies against trafficking in persons, in particular women and children, and the fact that the State party remains a source, transit and destination country for women and girls subjected to trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation. The Committee is also concerned about the decrease in the number of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers, the limited training on gender-sensitive investigation of trafficking for law enforcement officers and the lack of updated disaggregated data on trafficking. The Committee regrets the lack of information and data on the extent of prostitution and the limited measures taken by the State party to reduce the demand for prostitution and to provide alternative income-generating opportunities for women who wish to leave prostitution.
27. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt comprehensive legislation and policies against trafficking in persons, in particular women and children, and ensure that victims are properly identified and provided with adequate protection and assistance;
(b) Ensure the effective prosecution and punishment of traffickers;
(c) Build the capacity of law enforcement officers, including police officers, prosecutors and the judiciary, immigration officers and social workers with regard to gender-sensitive ways to deal with victims of trafficking;
(d) Ensure that women and girls who are victims of trafficking have access to medical care, legal aid, psychosocial counselling and rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, regardless of their ability or willingness to testify against traffickers;
(e) Impose adequate sanctions on law enforcement officers convicted in trafficking cases;
(f) Address the root causes of trafficking and prostitution by increasing efforts to provide educational and income-generating opportunities for women and girls, thereby minimizing their vulnerability to exploitation;
(g) Take appropriate measures to combat exploitation of prostitution, including by criminalizing demand for prostitution.
Participation in political and public life
28.The Committee commends the State party on the high percentage of women in its civil service and on the fact that two of the three highest State officials are women. The Committee is nonetheless concerned that no special measures have been applied as part of a comprehensive strategy to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women and men in political and public life and to promote the participation of women from disadvantaged groups, such as rural women, women from ethnic minorities and women with disabilities, in political and public life. The Committee is also concerned at gender discrimination against women politicians based on prevailing stereotypes.
29. In line with its general recommendation No. 23 on women in political and public life, the Commit tee encourages the State party:
(a) To adopt temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4 (1) of the Convention and the Committee ’ s general recommendation No. 25 on the subject, including quotas, to increase the participation of women, in particular rural women, women from ethnic minorities and women with disabilities, in political and public l ife;
(b) To take measures to eliminate gender stereotyping against women politicians.
30.The Committee notes with concern that the law on citizenship has an adverse impact on women and girls, given that it does not grant automatic citizenship to children born in the State party’s territory to stateless parents who are not permanent residents of Lithuania. The Committee is also concerned at the nationality status of Roma children.
31. The Committee encourages the State party to bring its national citizenship legislation in line with the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, in particular by providing for the automatic granting of nationality to all children born in Lithuania, including Roma children, who would otherwise be stateless.
32.The Committee acknowledges the reforms of the national curriculum for basic compulsory education, which include measures to advance gender equality. The Committee remains concerned about the gender stereotypes and structural barriers negatively affecting the enrolment of girls in non-traditional educational and occupational fields, the gender stereotyping in textbooks, the absence of adequate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the low number of women in management positions in educational institutions and professorship positions. The Committee is also concerned about the placement of Roma girls in special schools or classes, the high rate at which Roma girls are dropping out of primary education and the low school attendance of Roma girls.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Eliminate gender stereotypes and structural barriers that may deter girls from enrolling in non-traditional educational and occupational fields at all levels of education;
(b) Consider adopting temporary special measures to accelerate the appointment of women in academic institutions, such as setting clear targets and time frames for promoting the recruitment of women to management positions in educational institutions;
(c) Review all textbooks to eliminate gender stereotypes;
(d) Provide girls and boys with adequate, age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including about responsible sexual behaviour, with a view to preventing teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases;
(e) Continue legal and policy reforms to allow all girls to enjoy the right to education, and to that end ensure the enrolment of Roma girls and boys in regular classes at primary schools instead of schools or classes for children with special needs;
(f) Reduce the high rate at which Roma girls are dropping out of primary education, take effective measures to keep them in school and increase their attendance at the secondary level through measures such as granting scholarships and providing textbooks free of charge.
34.The Committee notes that the gender pay gap decreased from 22.6 per cent in 2007 to 11.9 per cent in 2011. Nevertheless, it is concerned about the significant horizontal and vertical segregation between women and men in the labour market, the limited participation of women in employment (62 per cent), the lack of counselling for girls and women on non-traditional educational and vocational choices and career options and the non-implementation of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. It is also concerned about the high unemployment rate among migrant and Roma women, single mothers, older women and women with disabilities. The Committee regrets that the percentage of men who take parental leave remains low. The Committee is further concerned that its previous recommendation to amend the law on equal opportunities for women and men in order to include mandatory equality plans by public and private employers has not been implemented.
35. The Committee r ecommends that the State party:
(a) Take specific measures to eliminate the horizontal and vertical segregation between women and men in the labour market, including temporary special measures to promote the access of women, in particular young women, to all forms of employment and occupation and update its national legislation and policies in order to promote equal opportunities and equal treatment of women in respect of employment and occupation;
(b) Develop support programmes aimed at counselling girls and women on non-traditional educational and vocational choices and career options in such a reas as science and technology;
(c) Ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Labour Code with regard to equal pay for work of equal value, including through labour inspections and the imposition of sanctions, and address the limited effectiveness of provisions on remuneration, in particular through public campaigns and awareness-raising within associations of employers and trade unions in the State party;
(d) Provide for the integration and effective participation of women from disadvantaged groups, including migrant women, Roma women, single mothers, older women and women with disabilities, in the la bour market;
(e) Continue its efforts to ensure the reconciliation of family and professional responsibilities and promote the equal sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men, including by developing incentives to encourage more men to avail themselves of parental leave and ensuring the provision of affordable and a ccessible childcare facilities;
(f) Amend the law on equal opportunities for women and men to include mandatory equality plans by public and private employers, covering also pay issues and family-friendly policies.
36.The Committee is concerned about the bill intended to restrict safe and legal abortions and the limited access to contraceptives. It is seriously concerned about the provisions that allow forced abortion and sterilization of women with intellectual disabilities without court authorization. The Committee regrets that the bill regulating reproductive health has not yet been adopted and that assisted reproductive treatment is not subsidized, the high infertility rate in the State party notwithstanding.
37. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Refrain from adopting laws or amendments that would restrict women ’ s right to legal and safe abortion and instead adopt the pending bills on reproductive health and assisted reproduction;
(b) Ensure that women and girls, especially women in rural areas, have access to and can afford modern contraception;
(c) Investigate claims of undocumented forced abortions and sterilization of women with intellectual disabilities in care institutions, put protocols in place to ensure compliance with the legal requirement of court authorization in such cases and ensure that offenders are punished.
Rural women, older women and women with disabilities
38.The Committee notes that the Ministry of Social Security and Labour conducted a study on the status of women in rural areas, older women, women with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups of women on the basis of the Committee’s recommendation (CEDAW/C/LTU/CO/4, para. 29). The Committee is concerned about the high poverty risk for women in rural areas, their low representation in decision-making and their limited access to services, including shelters for victims of domestic violence. The Committee is also concerned about the problem of feminization of old age, the fact that single women dominate among the older population and the lack of sufficient elder-care centres to meet the needs of elderly women, especially single elderly women and those without family support. The Committee is concerned that women with disabilities suffer from multiple forms of discrimination, including with regard to access to education, employment and health care, participation in political life, the high rate of violence against them and the lack of specialized services for victims.
39. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Develop comprehensive policies and programmes aimed at the economic and political empowerment of rural women and ensure their access to health, education and services, including shelters for victims of domestic violence;
(b) In line with the Committee ’ s general recommendation No. 27 on older women and protection of their human rights, pay special attention to the precarious situation of older women, especially elderly women, develop measures that adequately address their health, economic and emotional situation in order to avoid poverty and isolation and ensure the availability of elder-care centres to meet the needs of elderly women, especially single elderly women an d those without family support;
(c) Review its anti-discrimination legislation to ensure that discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited in the public and private spheres and that remedies, sanctions and complaints mechanisms are available to women with disabilities, including in cases of multiple or inters ecting forms of discrimination;
(d) Take specific action to tackle violence against women with disabilities by providing accessible shelters and 24-hour victim support hotlines, training police officers and raising awareness of such violence.
Marriage and family relations
40.The Committee is concerned about the proposed amendment to the Constitution that aims at restricting the definition of a family to married couples with at least one child. It is also concerned about the amendment to the Civil Code adopted in June 2010 regarding the legal age of consent to marriage, which provides that courts may reduce the legal age of consent by no more than two years at the request of a person intending to marry before the age of 18 years and that courts may allow persons to marry before the age of 16 years in cases of pregnancy.
41. The Commit tee encourages the State party:
(a) To refrain from adopting a restrictive definition of the family and effectively monitor the impact of the proposed amendment on different forms of families, as recognized in general recommendation No. 21 on equality in marriage and family relations;
(b) To repeal without delay the discriminatory provisions of the amendment to the Civil Code that lowered the legal age of consent to marriage.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
42. The Committee calls upon the State party to use the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in its efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention.
Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development framework
43. The Committee calls for the integration of a gender perspective, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, into all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and into the post-2015 development framework.
44. The Committee recalls the obligation of the State party to systematically and continuously implement the provisions of the Convention. It urges the State party to give priority attention to the implementation of the present concluding observations and recommendations between now and the submission of the next periodic report. The Committee therefore requests that the present concluding observations be disseminated in a timely manner, in the official language of the State party, to the relevant State institutions at all levels (national, regional and local), in particular to the Government, the ministries, the parliament and the judiciary, to enable their full implementation. It encourages the State party to collaborate with all stakeholders concerned, such as employers ’ associations, trade unions, human rights and women ’ s organizations, universities, research institutions and the media. It recommends that the present concluding observations be disseminated in an appropriate form at the local community level to enable their implementation. In addition, the Committee requests the State party to continue to disseminate the Convention, the Optional Protocol thereto and relevant jurisprudence, in addition to the Committee ’ s general recommendations, to all stakeholders.
Ratification of other treaties
45. The Committee notes that the adherence of the State party to the nine major international human rights instruments would enhance the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. The Committee therefore encourages the State party to consider ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, to which it is not yet a party.
Follow-up to the concluding observations
46. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 15 (a)-(c) and (e) and 23 (b)-(d) above.
Preparation of the next report
47. The Committee invites the State party to submit its sixth periodic report in July 2018.
48. The Committee requests the State party to follow the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents ( HRI/MC/2006/3 and Corr.1).