Chapter

Paragraphs

Page

Part oneReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on itsthirty‑second session

Letter of transmittal

2

Matters brought to the attention of States parties

3

Decisions

3

Organizational and other matters

1–18

4

States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Optional Protocol

1–3

4

Opening of the session

4–6

4

Solemn declaration

7

4

Election of officers

8

5

Adoption of the agenda

9

5

Report of the pre-session working group

10–13

5

Organization of work

14–17

6

Membership of the Committee

18

6

Report of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the thirty-first and thirty-second sessions

19–24

7

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention

25–387

9

Introduction

25–26

9

Consideration of reports of States parties

27–387

9

Combined initial, second and third periodic report

Samoa

27–70

9

Combined initial, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

71–118

16

Second periodic report

Algeria

119–167

23

Combined second and third periodic report

Croatia

168–209

30

Combined second, third, fourth and fifth period report

Gabon

210–255

37

Combined third and fourth periodic report and fifth periodic report

Paraguay

256–297

44

Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports

Italy

298–338

51

Turkey

339–387

58

Activities carried out under the Optional Protocol to the Convention

388–397

66

Action taken by the Committee in respect of issues arising from article 2 of the Optional Protocol

389–390

66

Action taken by the Committee in respect of issues arising from article 8 of the Optional Protocol

391–396

66

Appointment of members of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol

397

67

Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee

398–414

68

Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

415–418

73

Provisional agenda for the thirty-third session

419

74

Adoption of the report

420

75

Annexes

Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the occasion of the 10-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

76

Statement by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in regard to the tsunami disaster that occurred in South-East Asia on 26 December 2004

79

Views of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women under article 7, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

80

Part twoReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on itsthirty‑third session

Letter of transmittal

94

Matters brought to the attention of States parties

95

Decisions

95

Organizational and other matters

1–15

97

States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Optional Protocol

1–3

97

Opening of the session

4–6

97

Adoption of the agenda

7

97

Report of the pre-session working group

8–11

98

Organization of work

12–14

98

Membership of the Committee

15

99

Report of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the thirty-second and thirty-third sessions

16

100

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention

17–405

101

Introduction

17–18

101

Consideration of reports of States parties

19–405

101

Initial report

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

19–76

101

Initial and second periodic reports

Lebanon

77–126

109

Combined initial, second and third periodic reports

Benin

127–170

116

Gambia

171–220

122

Third periodic report

Israel

221–268

129

Combined third, fourth, fifth and sixth periodic report

Guyana

269–314

136

Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports

Burkina Faso

315–358

144

Ireland

359–405

151

Activities carried out under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

406–413

159

Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee

414–442

161

Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

443–444

167

Provisional agenda for the thirty-fourth session

445

168

Adoption of the report

446

169

Annexes

States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as at 1 August 2005

170

States parties which have deposited with the Secretary-General instruments of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, as at 1 August 2005

177

States parties which have signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention, as at 1 August 2005

179

Documents before the Committee at its thirty-second and thirty-third sessions

183

Membership of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

185

Status of submission and consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as at 1 August 2005

186

Report of the fifth session of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

236

Report of the sixth session of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

238

Request for extension of the meeting time of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

240

Statement by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the situation of women in Iraq

244

Part one

Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its thirty-second session

His Excellency Mr. Kofi AnnanSecretary-General of the United NationsNew York

Letter of transmittal

18 March 2005

Sir,

I have the honour to refer to article 21 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, according to which the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, established pursuant to the Convention, “shall, through the Economic and Social Council, report annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations on its activities”.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women held its thirty-second session from 10 to 28 January 2005 at United Nations Headquarters. It adopted its report on the session at the 683rd meeting, on 28 January 2005. The report of the Committee is herewith submitted to you for transmission to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

(Signed) Rosario G. ManaloChairpersonCommittee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Chapter IMatters brought to the attention of States parties

Decisions

Decision 32/I

The Committee adopted a statement on the occasion of the ten-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, to be brought to the attention of the forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (see annex I to part one of the present report).

Decision 32/II

The Committee adopted a statement in regard to the gender aspects of the tsunami disaster that took place in South-East Asia on 26 December 2004 (see annex II to part one of the present report).

Chapter IIOrganizational and other matters

A.States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Optional Protocol

1.As at 28 January 2005, the closing date of the thirty-second session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, there were 179 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979 and opened for signature, ratification and accession in New York in March 1980. In accordance with article 27, the Convention entered into force on 3 September 1981. As at 28 January 2005, forty-five States parties had accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the Committee’s meeting time.

2.On the same date, there were 71 States parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 54/4 of 6 October 1999 and opened for signature, ratification and accession in New York on 10 December 1999. In accordance with article 16, the Optional Protocol entered into force on 22 December 2000.

3.A list of States parties to the Convention, a list of States parties that have accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, concerning the Committee’s meeting time, and a list of States parties that have signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention are contained in annexes I to III to part two of the present report.

B.Opening of the session

4.The Committee held its thirty-second session at United Nations Headquarters from 10 to 28 January 2005. The Committee held 18 plenary meetings (666th to 683rd) and held 10 meetings to discuss agenda items 6, 7, 8 and 9. A list of the documents before the Committee is contained in annex IV to part two of the present report.

5.The Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Rachel Mayanja, who acted as temporary Chairperson, opened the session.

6.The Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, addressed the Committee at the 666th meeting.

C.Solemn declaration

7.At the opening meeting of the thirty-second session of the Committee, before assuming their functions, the members elected at the 13th meeting of States parties to the Convention on 5 August 2004 made the solemn declaration provided for under rule 15 of the Committee’s rules of procedure. They were: Magalys Arocha Dominguez, Mary Shanthi Dairiam, Françoise Gaspard, Tiziana Maiolo, Silvia Pimentel, Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling, Heisoo Shin, Glenda Simms, Anamah Tan, Regina Tavares da Silva and Xiaoqiao Zou.

D.Election of officers

8.At its 666th meeting, on 10 January 2005, the Committee, in accordance with article 19 of the Convention, elected by acclamation the following officers to serve for a term of two years: Rosario Manalo (Philippines), Chairperson; Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani (Algeria) and Silvia Pimentel (Brazil), Vice-Chairpersons; and Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia), Rapporteur. At its 669th meeting, on 13 January, the Committee elected by acclamation Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling (Germany) as a Vice-Chairperson.

E.Adoption of the agenda

9.The Committee considered the provisional agenda (CEDAW/C/2005/I/1) at its 666th meeting. The agenda was adopted as follows:

1.Opening of the session.

2.Solemn declaration by the new members of the Committee.

3.Election of officers.

4.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.

5.Report of the Chairperson on activities undertaken between the thirty-first and thirty-second sessions of the Committee.

6.Consideration of the reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

7.Implementation of article 21 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

8.Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee.

9.Activities of the Committee under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

10.Provisional agenda for the thirty-third session.

11.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its thirty-second session.

F.Report of the pre-session working group

10.At its ninth session, the Committee decided to convene a pre-session working group for five days prior to each session to prepare lists of issues and questions relating to the periodic reports that would be considered by the Committee at the subsequent session. At its thirty-first session, the Committee decided that lists of issues and questions would also be prepared on initial reports. The pre-session working group for the thirty-second session of the Committee met from 26 to 30 July 2004.

11.The following members, representing different regional groups, participated in the working group: Dorcas Frema Coker-Appiah (Africa), Françoise Gaspard (Western Europe and other States), Aída González Martínez (Latin America and the Caribbean), Victoria Popescu (Eastern Europe) and Heisoo Shin (Asia). The pre‑session working group elected Ms. Popescu as its Chairperson.

12.The working group prepared lists of issues and questions relating to the reports of the following States parties: Algeria, Croatia, Gabon, Italy, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Paraguay, Samoa and Turkey.

13.At the 667th meeting, Ms. Popescu introduced the report of the pre-session working group (see CEDAW/PSWG/2005/I/CRP.1 and Add.1-8).

G.Organization of work

14.At the 666th meeting, the Chief of the Women’s Rights Section of the Division for the Advancement of Women introduced item 7, implementation of article 21 of the Convention, and item 8, ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee. Under item 7, three specialized agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Labour Organization, had submitted reports in accordance with article 22 of the Convention (CEDAW/C/2004/I/3 and Add.1, 3 and 4). Under item 8, a report on ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee (CEDAW/C/2005/I/4) summarized relevant developments since the Committee’s previous session. The report contained the Committee’s statement on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention (annex III). Also before the Committee was a report on the status of submission of reports by States parties under article 18 of the Convention, including a list of reports that had been submitted but not yet considered by the Committee (CEDAW/C/2005/I/2). Those matters would be taken up by the Committee as a Working Group of the Whole.

15.On 10 January, the Committee held a closed meeting with representatives of the specialized agencies and bodies of the United Nations at which country-specific information was provided, as well as information on the efforts made by the body or entity concerned to promote the provisions of the Convention at the national and regional levels through its own policies and programmes.

16.On 10 and 17 January, the Committee held informal public meetings with representatives of NGOs who provided information about the implementation of the Convention in States reporting at the thirty-second session.

17.At its closed meeting, on 26 January, the team leader of the Follow-up Unit, Treaties and Commission Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights made a statement.

H.Membership of the Committee

18.A list of the members of the Committee, indicating the duration of their terms of office, appears in annex V to part two of the present report.

Chapter IIIReport of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the thirty-first and thirty-second sessions

19.At the 666th meeting, on 10 January 2005, the report by Ms. Acar, the former Chairperson, who was unable to attend the opening meeting, was read by Ms. Popescu.

20.The former Chairperson informed the Committee about her meeting with the Secretary-General on 3 August 2004 to brief him on the results of the thirty-first session of the Committee and to bid him farewell at the end of her tenure as Chairperson. She also briefed the Committee on her meeting with representatives of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations on 3 August 2004 to inform them of the Committee’s decisions in regard to the inquiry under article 8 of the Optional Protocol.

21.The former Chairperson gave an overview of her attendance at the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, where she had briefed the Third Committee on the Committee’s work under article 18 of the Convention, as well as on the adoption of general recommendation 25 on article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, on temporary special measures. She had drawn attention to the Committee’s first decision under the complaints procedure of the Optional Protocol as well as the completion of the first inquiry. She had encouraged all Member States to use the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention to accelerate the momentum for implementation of the Convention and to strengthen efforts towards its universal ratification. She had placed particular emphasis on the Committee’s continuing efforts to enhance its working methods, highlighting the progress achieved in the past year as a result of an informal meeting hosted by one of the Committee’s members, Mr. Cornelis Flinterman, at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, and financially supported by the Government of the Netherlands. She stressed that those efforts were guided by the Committee’s desire to achieve greater efficiency without jeopardizing the usefulness of the constructive dialogue with reporting States. She had paid considerable attention to the Committee’s request for an extension of its meeting time, underlining the constraints faced by the Committee in dealing with all its responsibilities in a timely and effective manner. She had presented the rationale and implications that had led the Committee to request the extension of the annual meeting time in 2005 and 2006 and the long-term solution of holding three annual sessions as from 2007. She had appealed to the States Members of the United Nations to consider favourably the Committee’s request. While the lack of action by the General Assembly on this proposal constituted a temporary setback, she urged the Committee to restate the need to find a short- and long-term solution that would allow the Committee to tackle its workload effectively.

22.The former Chairperson also reported on the round-table discussion to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention by the General Assembly on 13 October. The round table provided the opportunity to highlight the role of the Convention in promoting and protecting the rights of women worldwide and focused on the Committee’s contributions to that goal. The event, which had been very well attended, was highly visible thanks to the participation of the President of the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, three former Chairpersons, namely Ivanka Corti, Salma Khan and Charlotte Abaka, as well as high-level officials of the United Nations system and of civil society. The participation and keynote address by Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor General of New Zealand and a former member of the Committee, had made the event a truly memorable one. Aída González Martínez, another former Chairperson, had cancelled her participation but her statement was read out at the meeting. Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani and Savitri Goonesekere, a former member of the Committee, also attended the event. The Chairperson indicated that she had written to all States parties inviting them to use the opportunity provided by the anniversary to accelerate the momentum, at the national level, for the full and comprehensive implementation of the Convention. She mentioned in particular the Committee’s statement, which called for new initiatives to increase compliance with the Convention.

23.The former Chairperson reported on her participation, in October 2004, in a technical cooperation mission organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women to support the Government of Sierra Leone in its implementation of the Convention. Dorcas Coker-Appiah, Charlotte Abaka, Unity Dow of the High Court of Botswana and Tiya Maluwa, a professor of law from Malawi, also participated in the mission. The former Chairperson also briefed the Committee about some activities in which she had participated in her personal capacity, including the sixth annual NGO Forum on Human Rights held in Dublin; a conference in Stockholm convened by the Government of Sweden on combating patriarchal violence against women, focusing on violence in the name of honour; and the Economic Commission for Europe regional preparatory meeting for the 10-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action, held in Geneva in December, at which she served as Vice-Chairperson.

24.In closing, the former Chairperson expressed her appreciation for having had the opportunity to be a member of the Committee for eight years and for having been entrusted with the responsibilities of Rapporteur, Vice-Chairperson and Chairperson. She emphasized the importance of contributing to the work of the Committee in fulfilling her mandate as an independent expert. As Chairperson, she had tried to ensure its harmonious and productive work and to represent the Committee well in different forums. She thanked the experts and the Secretariat for the collaboration, strong support and friendship they had provided during her tenure. She emphasized that while visibility was no longer as big an issue for the Convention and the Committee, the importance of the work of the Committee, and the need to maintain the Committee’s exemplary competence and integrity, were perhaps now more important than ever before. This was the time when the actual independence of the Committee, as well as the appearance of independence, needed to be even more carefully maintained and protected because the Committee was more relevant and influential. The Optional Protocol as well as the larger number of ratifications required this. Similarly, this was a time when the Committee had to navigate the international human rights system to ensure that it was neither alienated nor simply mainstreamed into invisibility in the fulfilment of its responsibility to promote and protect women’s human rights effectively, for which purpose the Convention existed. The Convention’s increased popularity and the Committee’s increased power brought greater responsibility to all its members.

Chapter IVConsideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention

A.Introduction

25.At its thirty-second session, the Committee considered the reports of eight States parties: the combined initial, second and third periodic reports of one State party; the combined initial, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic reports of one State party; the second periodic report of one State party; the combined second and third periodic reports of one State party; the combined second, third, fourth and fifth periodic reports of one State party; the combined third and fourth periodic reports and the fifth periodic report of one State party; and the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of two States parties.

26.The Committee prepared concluding comments on each of the reports of States parties considered. The concluding comments of the Committee, preceded by a summary of the introductory presentation by the representatives of the States parties, are set out below.

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

1.Combined initial, second and third periodic report

Samoa

27.The Committee considered the combined initial, second and third periodic report of Samoa (CEDAW/C/WSM/1-3) at its 679th and 680th meetings, on 24 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.679 and 680).

Introduction by the State party

28.In introducing the report, the representative of Samoa expressed the long-standing commitment of Samoa to the equal status of women, as reflected in its laws and traditions. Samoa had been the first Pacific island country to ratify the Convention without reservations. The representative summarized the major economic and political developments in Samoa and gave an update in regard to the implementation of each of the articles of the Convention.

29.The Samoan constitutional provision on gender equality related to article 1 of the Convention, as it ensured equal protection under the law and prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex. Due remedy for breach of those rights was guaranteed and constitutional cases were frequently heard by the Supreme Court. While women had achieved suffrage in 1991 and equality in acquiring or retaining citizenship when married to a foreigner in 2004, the representative identified areas where reform was still required, especially in regard to gender-based violence, family, employment, land and criminal law.

30.The former Ministry of Women Affairs had been integrated into the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development. It coordinated gender equality work within the Government to incorporate gender concerns in all aspects of social affairs and policymaking, and also cooperated with non-governmental organizations.

31.As there had been an increase in domestic violence complaints, the Government intended to amend the penal code to make rape in marriage an offence, to enact domestic violence legislation and to amend the family code. A campaign had been launched to improve police services that would include an increase in the recruitment of women, the implementation of gender-sensitization programmes and the creation of a data-collection system on domestic violence cases. Courts were dealing more severely with cases of domestic violence and had adopted a “no-drop” policy for such cases. Increased attention was also being paid to trafficking in women.

32.Women’s representation in Parliament remained low. Women held 3 of 49 seats (although two of them occupied senior positions). This was due to the fact that only chiefly title-holders were eligible to run for Parliament and that, despite some improvements, a preference for men to hold this position remained. At the same time, women were involved at all levels of decision-making within the family, the community, the Government and the private sector. They were represented at the highest level in the public sector and government women representatives served as village focal points for communication with government officials.

33.The representative affirmed the commitment of Samoa to women’s social development, citing success in education. Education was compulsory at the primary level and overall parity in education in terms of participation had been achieved. The enrolment of girls up to the secondary level reflected the overall population figures, while at the tertiary level, women comprised 60 per cent of the enrolments.

34.Women were increasingly entering the labour force, comprising 43 per cent of the formal wage economy. Women dominated in the manufacturing sector, as well as in the teaching and nursing professions. In supporting women’s economic participation, the public sector guaranteed eight weeks of paid maternity leave and six months’ leave without pay. Women also benefited from credit and training programmes. The majority of loans approved for business enterprises and commercial activities were granted to women.

35.With regard to women’s health, a five-year national health service plan framework was under implementation, which focused on the delivery of health services and included community partnerships and mobile clinics. Measures to increase access to medical services in rural areas directly benefited women. While more targeted health promotion and prevention programmes for women were under way in the area of so-called “lifestyle” diseases, maternal health remained a priority and progress was reflected in improved indicators.

36.Turning to the situation of rural women, who constituted 78 per cent of the total female population, the representative of Samoa stated that, in the authority systems within the village structures, women played an important role in decision-making at all levels. Women holders of chiefly titles sat on village councils and participated in village administration. Women were homemakers and small-business owners, and also held paid employment in urban areas. They had good access to health services, and training and education programmes were provided, through extension services, by the Government, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and traditional village groups.

37.In closing, the representative of Samoa stressed that Samoa remained dedicated to the successful implementation of the Convention, in the spirit of Samoan tradition, and offered its full commitment to achieving the equality of women.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

38.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Convention without reservations and expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined initial, second and third periodic report, while regretting that it was overdue. It expresses appreciation to the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the Committee’s pre-session working group and for the oral presentation, which provided further clarification and elaborated on the most recent developments in the implementation of the Convention.

39.The Committee congratulates the State party for sending a high-level delegation headed by the Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, and which included the Attorney-General. It appreciates the frank, professional and constructive dialogue that took place between the members of the Committee and the delegation and the precise answers, which provided further insights into the real situation of women.

40.The Committee welcomes the State party’s consultation with women’s non-governmental organizations and other civil society organizations in the preparation of the report.

Positive aspects

41.The Committee welcomes the establishment in 2004 of the integrated Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development of Samoa which, through its Division for Women, collaborates with other ministries of the Government and non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Convention. It also welcomes the approval by the Government, in May 2004, of the selection of women’s representatives (women liaison officers) within all villages to support the advancement of women, particularly in rural areas.

42.The Committee commends the State party for conducting legislative reviews and identifying for further reform a number of areas of the law that are critical for the promotion of gender equality. It welcomes the enactment of the Law Reform Commission Act of 2002. It welcomes the adoption of the Citizenship Act of 2004, which now provides for equality between women and men in conferring nationality on a foreign spouse.

43.The Committee commends the State party on making primary education compulsory and on the progress made in implementing article 10 of the Convention in regard to the education of girls and women at all levels. The Committee also commends the State party for the very high rate of female literacy.

44.The Committee commends the State party for adopting temporary special measures in the police services, where women are underrepresented.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

45. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

46.The Committee expresses its concern that the legislation of the State party does not contain a definition of discrimination against women in accordance with article 1 of the Convention. It is also concerned that the Convention is not directly applicable in the State party and that there is no adequate legislative framework in place to ensure compliance with all the provisions of the Convention.

47. The Committee calls upon the State party to include in the Constitution or in other appropriate domestic legislation a definition of discrimination against women in line with article 1 of the Convention. It also urges the State party to take the measures necessary to ensure that the Convention becomes fully applicable in the domestic legal system, either through domesticating it in full or by adopting appropriate legislation.

48.While noting that the Government has identified several areas where legislation inadequately protects women against discrimination, namely, in regard to gender-based violence and in family and employment law, the Committee is concerned that no time line or benchmarks are in place for undertaking the legal reform efforts necessary to bring domestic legislation into conformity with the Convention. The Committee is also concerned that, although the Law Reform Commission Act was passed in 2002, the office has not yet been established for lack of resources.

49. The Committee recommends that the State party put in place without delay a plan, with a clear timetable and priorities, for the revision of existing discriminatory legislation and the drafting and submission to Parliament of new laws to promote gender equality. The Committee also recommends the establishment of the office of the Law Reform Commission in order to expedite the legal reform process. The Committee encourages the Government to consult with women’s organizations in the development and prioritization of such a legislative reform agenda.

50.While noting the State party’s intention to review all criminal laws within the next two years and the courts’ adoption of a “no-drop” policy in regard to charges of domestic violence, the Committee is concerned that the prevalence of domestic violence needs measures to prevent and combat various forms of violence against women.

51. The Committee recommends that the State party put in place without delay a comprehensive strategy to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, which is a form of discrimination against women and a violation of their human rights. Such a strategy should include measures, including legislation, to prevent violence against women, provide protection, support and rehabilitation services to victims, and punish the offenders. In this regard, the Committee draws attention to its general recommendation 19. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that shelters are available to all women victims of violence. It also calls upon the State party to ensure that public officials, especially law enforcement personnel, the judiciary, health-care providers and social workers, are fully sensitized to all forms of violence against women and are adequately trained to respond to them.

52.The Committee is concerned about the continuing low representation of women in public life and decision-making, including women’s limited access to family chiefly titles (matai) and their resulting low representation in the Parliament. It is concerned that sociocultural stereotypes and traditions continue to prevent women from seeking public, and especially elective, office.

53. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained and proactive measures to increase the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of political and public life. It recommends that the State party introduce temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to increase the number of women in the Parliament and in local government bodies. It calls upon the State party to carry out awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of women’s participation in public and political life and in decision-making positions, with a view to eliminating customs and practices that discriminate against women, in accordance with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. The Committee requests the State party to evaluate regularly the impact of such measures, including temporary special measures, so as to ensure that they lead to the desired goals, and to provide in its next report comprehensive information on the results achieved.

54.The Committee is concerned about the situation of women in the employment sector and their lower level of participation in the labour force. The Committee is concerned that existing legislation is discriminatory or has significant gaps with respect to articles 11 and 13, such as lack of provisions on equal pay for work of equal value, on protection against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and against sexual harassment in the workplace. The Committee is also concerned about the extremely limited provision of paid maternity leave in the private sector and the lack of adequate childcare services.

55. The Committee calls upon the State party to bring its legislation into compliance with article 11 of the Convention without delay and to ensure compliance with such legislation. The Committee also requests the State party to step up its efforts to address the impediments women face in entering the labour force and to implement measures to promote the reconciliation of family and work responsibilities between women and men. The Committee also urges the State party to use temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation 25 so as to enhance implementation of article 11 of the Convention. It requests the State party to provide information about the impact of such measures in its next report.

56.The Committee expresses concern that complications of pregnancy and childbirth remain one of the leading causes of morbidity for women. It is also concerned about the rising incidence of teenage pregnancy, the limited family‑planning efforts, the low contraceptive prevalence rate and the lack of sex education in schools, despite comprehensive access for women to health services, including reproductive health services. The Committee is also concerned about the insufficient information provided about the HIV/AIDS infection rates of women.

57. The Committee urges the State party to increase its efforts to improve the provision of sexual and reproductive health services to reduce fertility rates and maternal morbidity. It calls upon the State party to step up the provision of family-planning information to women and girls and to promote widely sex education targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of teenage pregnancy and the control of HIV/AIDS. It invites the State party to provide in its next report detailed information, including statistics and measures taken, on HIV/AIDS infection trends of women.

58.The Committee is concerned about the lack of statistical information in regard to trafficking in women.

59. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next report comprehensive information about trafficking in women and exploitation of the prostitution of women, including measures to discourage the demand for prostitution and to rehabilitate and support women who want to get out of prostitution. It encourages the State party to report on any studies or surveys conducted, as well as on measures taken to prevent trafficking and to assist victims.

60.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of discriminatory provisions in family law, especially in regard to marriage, as well as the persistence of traditions that discriminate against women and girls. In particular, the Committee is concerned at the age of consent to marriage for girls being 16 years, whereas it is 18 for boys, at the fault-based divorce system and at the lack of legislation on the division of marital property.

61. The Committee urges the State party to give high priority to the planned revision of the law governing marriage, its dissolution and family relations so as to ensure compliance with article 16 of the Convention and in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 23 on marriage and family relations. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake awareness-raising measures to address cultural patterns of conduct that are discriminatory against women and girls in these areas.

62.While appreciating that proposals submitted to the Cabinet Development Committee must include a report on the gender implications and a gender analysis of the proposed project, insufficient information was provided about the attention given to the provisions of the Convention.

63. The Committee requests the State party to ensure that the Convention serves as the framework for assessing the suitability of development projects from a gender perspective. It also requests the State party to develop adequate capacity within the Government to undertake such assessments within the framework of the Convention.

64.The Committee is concerned that the strategic development plan insufficiently incorporates the goal of the practical realization of the principle of equality between women and men, as called for in article 2 (a) of the Convention, especially in the light of the State party’s ongoing economic reform and trade liberalization.

65. The Committee recommends that the State party make the promotion of gender equality an explicit component of its next national development plan and policies, in particular those aimed at sustainable development.

66. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the Committee’s meeting time.

67. The Committee requests the State party to provide an assessment of the impact of measures taken to enhance the de facto equality of women and to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to submit its fourth periodic report, which is due in October 2005, and its fifth periodic report, which is due in October 2009, as a combined report in 2009.

68. Taking account of the gender dimensions of the declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions (such as the special session of the General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (the twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (the twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing), the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

69. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, namely, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Samoa to consider ratifying the treaties to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

70. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Samoa of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Samoa, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the Government to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

2.Combined initial, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

71.The Committee considered the combined initial, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (CEDAW/C/LAO/1-5) at its 675th and 676th meetings, on 19 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.675 and 676).

Introduction by the State party

72.In introducing the report, the representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic pointed to the many political and socio-economic challenges the country had faced prior to and since gaining independence in 1975. Women had been considered inferior and had been deprived of their right to freedom of expression and their right to enter political life. Approximately 80 per cent of the country’s multi-ethnic population continued to live in rural and remote areas.

73.The Government was carrying out comprehensive reforms of the economy and of political institutions to address poverty and to exit from underdevelopment. Women had made a significant contribution to national development. A domestic legal framework based on the rule of law was being established that included provisions for the protection of women’s rights. The Constitution of 1991 and its amendment of 2003 guaranteed equal rights between women and men in all sectors. The Law on the Development and Protection of Women of 2004, which was subsequently promulgated by presidential decree, further enhanced the rights of women and the responsibility of the State, society and family vis-à-vis women. The law’s aim was to eliminate discrimination against women, combat violence against women and trafficking in women and children, and create an enabling environment for women’s participation and empowerment. The Lao Women’s Union played a dominant role in safeguarding women’s rights and in forging solidarity among Lao women from all walks of life.

74.Women occupied leadership positions at all levels. The number of women in the National Assembly had increased from eight deputies in the period 1992-1997 to 25 deputies in the fifth legislature (2002-2007), or 22.9 per cent. For the first time, a woman from the Hmong ethnic group was serving as Vice-President of the National Assembly.

75.The Government had given priority to education and aimed to achieve nationwide compulsory primary education by 2010. Due attention was given to increasing the literacy rate of women, which had increased from 48 per cent in 1995 to 60 per cent in 2000 for women above 15 years of age. Primary school enrolment rates for girls had increased from 68 per cent in 1995 to 75 per cent in 2000. The Government had set targets for girls’ enrolment and women’s literacy rates for the years 2010 and 2020.

76.Initiatives to increase women’s access to primary health care, particularly in rural and remote areas, had been undertaken and the network for medical treatment had been expanded. Those efforts included increased access by women to information about health care for themselves and projects on nutrition, safe motherhood and birth spacing, and sanitation. As a result, the aggregate fertility rates, as well as maternal, under-five and infant mortality rates, had decreased significantly between 1995 and 2000.

77.The Government’s national growth and poverty eradication strategy was aimed at national development in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. The Lao Women’s Union had been instrumental in developing various subprojects under this strategy, including on microfinance and microcredit, women’s capacity-building, the promotion of agricultural and handicraft production and small and medium-sized enterprises. Village development funds had been established on a pilot basis to enhance access to credit.

78.A National Commission for the Advancement of Women had been set up to assist the Government in the formulation and implementation of a national policy and strategy for the advancement of women. It also worked on the follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action and coordinated with local and foreign agencies. The Commission was in the process of drafting a national strategy for the advancement of women for the years 2005 to 2010. All ministries and local administrations had been instructed to establish a unit for the advancement of women within their respective institutions.

79.The representative noted that although results had been achieved initially, many difficulties and obstacles remained in the implementation of the Convention, including the general low level of education, the lack of detailed information about the situation of women and the existence of backward customs and traditions and entrenched stereotypes.

80.In concluding, the representative reiterated the Government’s commitment to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and to promoting the advancement of women through the implementation of the Convention and the Committee’s concluding comments. With the support of the international community, the remaining challenges would be overcome to ensure the enjoyment by women in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic of their equal rights with men.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

81.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Convention without reservations and expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined first, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report, while regretting that it was overdue. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation and further clarifications offered in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

82.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation and expresses its appreciation for the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

83.The Committee appreciates the adoption of the Law on the Development and Protection of Women in 2004.

84.The Committee welcomes the establishment of the National Commission on the Advancement of Women, which strengthens the national machinery for gender equality.

85.The Committee commends the State party for increasing considerably the proportion of women in the National Assembly, from 9.4 per cent in the third legislature (1992-1997) to 21.1 per cent in the fourth legislature (1997-2002) and to 22.9 per cent in the fifth legislature (2002-2007).

86.The Committee notes with appreciation the various efforts to combat trafficking in women and children, including the establishment under the Deputy Prime Minister of the National Committee on the Fight against Human Trafficking, regional and bilateral agreements on cooperation with neighbouring countries and a new mechanism to provide services for victims of trafficking.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

87. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

88.The Committee is concerned that the status of the Convention vis-à-vis domestic legislation is unclear. While noting that the legal framework of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is relatively new, the Committee is concerned that no definition of discrimination against women exists in national laws.

89. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to bring the Convention into the domestic legal system and ensure that it can be invoked in the courts. It also recommends that the definition of discrimination against women set forth in article 1 of the Convention be incorporated in the Constitution or other appropriate legislation.

90.While noting the establishment of the National Commission on the Advancement of Women as the new national machinery, the Committee expresses its concern about the inadequate institutional structure and financial resources available to the secretariat of the Commission for gender mainstreaming and implementation of gender equality policies, as well as the heavy reliance on the Lao Women’s Union, which is a mass organization without executive power.

91. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its national machinery by providing adequate human and financial resources as well as setting up mechanisms to strengthen gender mainstreaming in all ministries and at all levels of the Government. While recognizing the important work of the Lao Women’s Union in advancing the status of women, the Committee recommends that the State party not relegate its obligation to implement the Convention only to a mass organization. It also recommends that the State party create governmental supervisory bodies at all levels to monitor the implementation of the national strategic plan for the advancement of women for the period 2005-2010.

92.While noting that 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, the Committee is deeply concerned about the pervasive poverty and underdevelopment of women, especially in rural and ethnic minority communities. The Committee is also concerned that ethnic minority women, having no alternative sources of income, depend on the production of opium poppies for their livelihood. While welcoming the reinvestigation into the matter of land titling, the Committee is concerned that the current reinvestigation and the reissuance of land titles are limited to nine provinces. The Committee is also concerned that, while rural women carry out more than half of total agricultural production in every field, the additional workloads of housework and child-rearing also fall primarily on their shoulders. The Committee is very concerned that rural women are not fully represented in important decision-making regarding development programmes, nor on the village council.

93. The Committee urges the State party to accelerate its plan to eradicate poverty among women, especially rural and ethnic minority women, by more actively seeking international assistance and at the same time by applying gender perspectives in all development programmes and fully integrating women into decision-making on those programmes, as well as in their implementation processes. The Committee also urges the State party to step up its efforts to provide ethnic minority women who depend on opium poppy production with alternative and sustainable means of livelihood. The Committee recommends that the reinvestigation and re-registration of land titles be carried out in all provinces, with the expected result of eradicating discrimination against women, and requests the State party to provide detailed information about the results achieved in its next report. The Committee also recommends that the State party take measures to ease the double burden of women, including by providing new technologies for women farmers and educating men regarding the sharing of family responsibilities. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party ensure the full and equal representation of rural women on the various committees at the village level.

94.Despite some progress, the Committee is alarmed at the still very high illiteracy rate of women, 40 per cent, and the large discrepancy between male and female literacy rates and between urban and rural women’s education. The Committee is especially concerned at the extremely low literacy rate among ethnic minority women. The Committee is concerned that the initial plan to make primary education compulsory was postponed from 2000 to 2010.

95. The Committee urges that the State party immediately take all appropriate measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 on temporary special measures, to reduce the illiteracy rate of women and to provide education, both formal and informal, to women, including ethnic minority women, especially in rural areas. The Committee also recommends that free and compulsory primary education at the national level be implemented as soon as possible. It further recommends that the State party consider seeking international assistance for these purposes.

96.While noting improvement during the past few years, the Committee is seriously concerned about the very high maternal and infant mortality rates and the high fertility rate, especially among women in rural and remote areas and among ethnic minorities. The Committee is concerned about the lack of health-care facilities and medical professionals in rural villages and remote areas as well as the lack of awareness among women and adolescents regarding reproductive health and family planning, including the use of contraceptives and birth spacing.

97. The Committee recommends that the State party accelerate the implementation of its national population policy, focusing on expanding its network of health-care facilities and personnel throughout the nation and reaching out to rural and remote areas, inter alia to the benefit of ethnic minority women; that it enhance its educational programmes, not only for women, but also for men and adolescents, on reproductive health and family planning; and that it make contraceptives easily available.

98.The Committee is concerned about the prevalence of traditional gender-role stereotyping, which leads to disparities in leadership and decision-making in all spheres, including in the family, in the community and in public life.

99. The Committee recommends that a concerted nationwide campaign be undertaken to eliminate the pervasive traditional gender role stereotyping and to promote public awareness on issues of gender equality in all spheres of life.

100.The Committee is concerned that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is increasingly exposed to the danger of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, in particular around construction sites and along trade routes.

101. The Committee recommends that the State party take all measures necessary to raise awareness among men and women, especially in rural areas, around construction sites and along existing and emerging trade routes, of the risk of HIV/AIDS infection.

102.While recognizing the new measures to combat the increasing incidence of trafficking in the country and in the region, including the strengthened law enforcement system, cooperation with neighbouring countries and the establishment of the service mechanism to assist and protect victims of trafficking, the Committee is concerned that no substantial information was provided on how the mechanism works and its impact on combating trafficking in women and girls. It is also concerned about the increasing occurrences of such trafficking. The Committee is concerned about the exploitation of prostitution of women and at the lack of information on the prevalence and magnitude of the problem.

103. The Committee requests that the State party provide detailed information on the impact of various measures to combat trafficking in women and girls, including the number of and trends in arrests of traffickers, the number of victims and the manner in which they benefited from the return and repatriation services, as well as information on any additional measures to combat trafficking. The Committee also recommends that the State party collect information and carry out studies on the extent of exploitation of prostitution and take more proactive measures to address the problem, including through discouraging the demand for prostitution.

104.The Committee is concerned about the generally low representation of women in the administration, at both the national and local levels, and in the judiciary. Considering the fact that 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas and that the village chiefs and the village councils handle most everyday matters, the Committee is very concerned that less than 1 per cent of the village chiefs are women and only one member of the Lao Women’s Union represents women in the village council.

105. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to increase the representation of women in administrative and judicial organs at the national, provincial and village levels, in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 23 on women in political and public life. It also recommends that the State party introduce temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 on temporary special measures, to increase the percentage of women at all levels of decision-making and to make sure that the interests of women are fully reflected and that gender equality is guaranteed at all levels of decision-making. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to empower village women so that they can participate equally in village matters.

106.The Committee is concerned about the situation of women in the employment and labour areas, on which insufficient information was provided, especially about women’s ability to take advantage of new economic opportunities and to benefit fully from the State party’s reforms towards a market-based economy and its integration into the regional and world economy.

107. The Committee recommends that the State party study the impact of its economic reforms on women, with a view to improving equality between women and men in the labour market, including strengthening formal and informal mechanisms for the resolution of labour disputes through appropriate representation of women. It recommends that targeted measures be taken to upgrade and improve women’s entrepreneurial skills and their access to technology, and to create opportunities for women in trade and commerce on the basis of equality between women and men. It also calls upon the State party to assess and to take remedial measures regarding any disadvantageous impact of economic reforms on women, including on women in the civil service.

108.The Committee is concerned that there is a lack of awareness or recognition of domestic violence, including marital rape, as a form of discrimination against women and as a violation of their human rights. The Committee is concerned that domestic violence is considered to be fairly normal by young people, both boys and girls, and that the Criminal Law grants exemption from penal liabilities in cases of physical violence without serious injury or physical damage. The Committee is also concerned that traditional attitudes on gender-role stereotyping keep women and girls in a subordinate position, preventing them from getting equal education and life opportunities, especially in rural areas.

109. The Committee recommends that the State party undertake measures to increase awareness of all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence and marital rape. It recommends that domestic violence and marital rape be criminalized and that more studies be undertaken and data collected on various forms of violence against women, especially domestic violence. The Committee also recommends that the State party take more active and proactive measures to bring about changes in the traditional patriarchal attitudes on gender-role stereotyping. The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women in support of its effort to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women.

110.The Committee is concerned that the law allows marriage under the age of 18 in “special and necessary cases” and that a considerable percentage of women do marry before they reach the age of 18.

111. The Committee recommends that the State party prohibit under-age marriage in all circumstances. The Committee also recommends that the State party provide in its next report information on the results of the data collected on-site regarding early marriages and measures taken to prevent them.

112.Noting the essential role of active women’s and human rights organizations for the effective implementation of the Convention and the achievement of gender equality, the Committee is concerned that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is lacking lively, autonomous and active women’s and human rights organizations.

113. The Committee recommends that the State party introduce measures, including legislative and administrative measures as necessary, to create space for autonomous women’s and human rights organizations.

114. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

115. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to submit its sixth report, which was due in September 2002, and its seventh report, due in September 2006, in a combined report in 2006.

116. Taking account of the gender dimensions of the declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions, such as the special session of the General Assembly for the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

117. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, namely, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to consider ratifying the treaties to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

118. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

3.Second periodic report

Algeria

119.The Committee considered the second periodic report of Algeria (CEDAW/C/DZA/2) at its 667th and 668th meetings, on 11 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.667 and 668).

Introduction by the State party

120.In his introduction, the representative of Algeria stated that the situation in his country in 2005 was not the same as it had been in 1999, when the initial report had been submitted. Algeria had endured a long decade of ordeals in terms of terrorist crime, of which women were among the main targets. With the policy of civil concord which had accelerated the normalization of the security situation, terrorism — on the decline — today no longer constituted a serious threat to the country’s institutions and people.

121.The principle of equality between women and men was guaranteed by the Constitution and various legal codes. For example, no legislative or regulatory provision prohibited or restricted participation by women in political life. There had been an increase in the number of women candidates in the 2002 elections. Thanks to the abolition of proxy voting, the decline in terrorist violence and women’s determination to affirm their citizenship by exercising the vote, significant numbers of women had taken part in the recent presidential election. It should also be noted that, although the number of women elected to office remained small, there had been a considerable increase in the number of women in senior civil service posts.

122.Free and compulsory education without discrimination on the basis of gender was fundamental to women’s emancipation. The percentage of young women attending institutes, senior schools and universities had increased from 39.5 per cent in 1990 to 55.4 per cent in 2003. Textbooks had been revised. Social and cultural attitudes were gradually changing and negative attitudes towards women along with stereotypes of them were declining.

123.In the field of labour and economic emancipation, the number of women in paid employment had grown considerably, including in rural areas, although the overall percentage remained low. Women were well represented in teaching, education, medicine, pharmacy and the judiciary. The principle of gender equality was applied in the areas of social security and pensions. Maternal and childcare services were well developed. The representative noted that family planning policies had increased women’s life expectancy by two years, reduced infant and maternal mortality and cut the fertility rate for couples.

124.Domestic violence was no longer a taboo subject. The availability of information on that issue had improved and counselling centres had been established for abused women. The offence of sexual harassment had been incorporated into the revised Penal Code and victims were now able to assert their rights. The Government had invited the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences to visit Algeria.

125.The changes which had taken place in society and the ratification of international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, made it necessary to revise the Family Code. On 8 March 2004, the President of the Republic had requested the Government to take the necessary steps to bring the national legislation into line with developments in international law and to review the appropriateness of the reservations that Algeria had entered when it ratified the Convention.

126.The Code of Algerian Nationality was being revised to address the grievances expressed by Algerian society and to bring the relevant legislation into line with international conventions ratified by Algeria. A draft law had been submitted by the Government to amend and complement the Code and to enshrine the principle of gender equality.

127.The representative of Algeria said that the Family Code, the basic instrument governing family relationships, had remained unchanged since 1984 and a revision had therefore become necessary. In 2003, the President of the Republic had initiated a revision designed to strengthen the legal mechanism currently in force so as to enable women to free themselves from social constraints and to fully and effectively enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The revision of the Family Code and the Code of Algerian Nationality should make it possible to consider lifting most of the reservations that Algeria had entered when it ratified the Convention. The amendments set at 19 years the age at which both men and women could lawfully be married. They also provided for mutual consent to marriage, the abolition of legal guardianship and a revision of divorce laws to ensure better protection for children.

128.In conclusion, Algeria was firmly committed to modernity and progress and attached great importance to gradually bringing its national legislation into line with the provisions of the Convention.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

129.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its second periodic report, for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation made in response to the questions posed by the Committee.

130.The Committee welcomes the State party’s delegation, made up of representatives of different ministries with responsibility for several areas of the Convention, and appreciates the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

131.The Committee appreciates the progress achieved in the area of women’s health, including the decrease in maternal and infant mortality and the increase in women’s life expectancy.

132.The Committee notes with satisfaction the increase in women’s enrolment in institutions of higher learning, from 39.5 per cent in 1990 to approximately 55.4 per cent in 2003. It also appreciates that girls now comprise 57.53 per cent of students in secondary education.

133.The Committee welcomes the increasing number of women in the judiciary, who now account for approximately one third of magistrates, and in leadership posts, such as the presidency of the State Council, courts and tribunals.

134.The Committee notes the improvement in women’s participation in public life and welcomes the inclusion of four women ministers in the current Government.

135.The Committee commends the State party for including the offence of sexual harassment in the revised Penal Code.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

136. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

137.The Committee regrets that the State party has not taken adequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to some concerns raised in its previous concluding comments, adopted in 1999 (see A/54/38/Rev.1, chap. IV, Sect. B.1). In particular, the Committee finds that its concern about the consequences of the physical violence suffered by women at the hands of terrorist groups, expressed in paragraph 77 of those concluding comments, and the situation of wives of disappeared persons, expressed in paragraph 81, have been insufficiently addressed.

138. The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to implement the recommendations without delay, as well as to undertake comprehensive studies on the effects of terrorism on women and girls.

139.While noting that the Constitution, in its articles 29 and 31, stipulates equality before the law without discrimination, including on the basis of sex, the Committee is concerned that the State party’s legislation does not contain a definition of discrimination in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, nor provisions on equal rights of women in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention.

140. The Committee recommends that a definition of discrimination in line with article 1 of the Convention, as well as provisions on the equal rights of women in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention, be included in the Constitution or in other appropriate legislation.

141.The Committee reiterates its concern that the State party continues to have reservations to articles 2, 9 (2), 15 (4) and 16. The Committee notes that reservations to articles 2 and 16 are contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention.

142. The Committee urges the State party to expedite legislative reform, especially of the Family Code, to allow it to proceed to withdraw its reservations to the Convention within a concrete time frame.

143.The Committee is concerned about the lack of progress in revising discriminatory legislation. In particular, it expresses concern that the revision of the Code of Algerian Nationality established by Order 70-86 of 15 December 1970 and of the 1984 Family Code has not been completed, thus allowing for the persistence of discriminatory provisions that deny women equal rights with men concerning the transmission of nationality, as well as on issues related to marriage and family life, including divorce and child custody. It also expresses concern that the proposed amendments to the Family Code do not include the abolition of polygamy and of women’s legal guardianship.

144. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on implementing legislative reforms and to step up the process of revising the Code of Algerian Nationality and the Family Code so as to promptly bring them into line with articles 9 and 16 of the Convention. To this end, the Committee calls upon the State party to establish a clear time frame for the review of those laws by the Council of Ministers and for their submission to the National People’s Assembly and the Council of the Nation and to increase its efforts to sensitize public opinion regarding the importance of legal reform.

145.The Committee is concerned that, although women’s access to justice is provided for by law, their ability in practice to exercise this right and to bring cases of discrimination before the courts is limited.

146. The Committee requests the State party to remove impediments women may face in gaining access to justice, including through sensitization about available legal remedies against discrimination, and to monitor the results of such efforts.

147.The Committee observes a lack of results-oriented information in the report, including sex-disaggregated data.

148. The Committee recommends the development of a comprehensive data-compilation methodology and urges the State party to compile relevant sex-disaggregated statistics so as to be able to assess the trends and the impact of programmes on the female population and to include such data and related analysis in its next periodic report.

149.The Committee is concerned about the high incidence of violence against women, including domestic violence, and about the continuing lack of specific legislation to address and eliminate violence against women.

150. In the light of its general recommendation 19, the Committee urges the State party to give high priority to the formulation and adoption of legislation on violence against women, including domestic violence, which is a form of discrimination against women and a violation of their human rights. The Committee recommends that the State party implement measures to prevent all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, through education and awareness raising for law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health providers, social workers and the general public. It also recommends the introduction of measures to provide medical, psychological and legal assistance to victims of violence.

151.The Committee is also concerned that insufficient progress has been made in achieving de facto equality between women and men in all sectors and about the State party’s apparent lack of understanding of the purpose of temporary special measures and the reasons for their application.

152. The Committee recommends that the State party take concrete measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation 25, in all sectors to ensure that women enjoy de facto equality with men.

153.The Committee expresses concern that discriminatory practices and strong stereotypical attitudes persist about the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society, hence negatively affecting women’s enjoyment of their rights and impeding the full implementation of the Convention.

154. The Committee urges the State party to increase its efforts to design and implement comprehensive awareness-raising programmes to foster a better understanding of and support for equality between women and men at all levels of society. Such efforts should aim to change stereotypical attitudes and traditional norms about the responsibilities and roles of women and men in the family and society and to strengthen societal support for equality between women and men.

155.While welcoming the progress achieved over time in women’s political participation, the Committee remains concerned about the low level of representation of women in decision-making positions, particularly their political representation at all levels and their representation in the administration and the foreign service.

156. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to accelerate the increase in the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of public life. The Committee also suggests that the State party implement leadership training programmes and carry out awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of women’s participation in decision-making, and that it evaluate the impact of such measures.

157.The Committee notes the absence of information on the situation of women in the informal sector and expresses concern that women constitute only 14.18 per cent of the total employed population.

158. The Committee requests the State party to undertake studies to assess the situation of women working in the informal sector and to provide, in its next report, detailed information in that regard. The Committee also requests the State party to step up its efforts to address impediments women face in entering the labour force and to implement measures to promote the reconciliation of family and work responsibilities of women and men. The Committee also urges the State party to use temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation 25 so as to accelerate implementation of article 11 of the Convention.

159.The Committee notes that insufficient information was provided on the situation of rural women.

160. The Committee requests the State party to ensure that the needs and concerns of rural women are fully integrated in the formulation and implementation of sectoral policies and programmes, and that temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation 25 are applied whenever necessary so as to accelerate the realization of the substantive equality of rural women. The Committee requests that detailed information on the situation of women in rural areas be provided in its next periodic report, especially concerning the impact of steps taken.

161.The Committee is concerned about the apparent lack of cooperation of the authorities with non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Convention, including in follow-up to the concluding comments. The Committee notes with concern that women’s non-governmental organizations were not consulted in the process of preparing the report.

162. The Committee urges the State party to cooperate more effectively with non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Convention, including in the follow-up to the concluding comments. The Committee further recommends that the State party consult with non-governmental organizations during the preparation of the next periodic report.

163. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

164. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to submit its third periodic report, which is due in June 2005, and its fourth periodic report, which is due in June 2009, in a combined report in 2009.

165. Taking account of the gender dimensions of declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions, such as the special session of the General Assembly for the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

166. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, namely, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Algeria to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

167. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Algeria of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Algeria, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

4.Combined second and third periodic report

Croatia

168.The Committee considered the combined second and third periodic report of Croatia (CEDAW/C/CRO/2-3) at its 673rd and 674th meetings, on 18 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.673 and 674).

Introduction by the State party

169.In introducing the report, the representative of Croatia noted that in the framework of the process of accession of the State party to the European Union, which was currently under way, European authorities had recognized that laws and institutional structures for the promotion of gender equality were largely in place in the State party.

170.The representative of Croatia stressed that laws and regulations were in place to promote gender equality and eradicate discrimination against women. The Constitution recognized gender equality as the highest value of the constitutional order. The Gender Equality Act of 2003, which largely followed the provisions of the Convention, protected women against discrimination and set out a policy of equal opportunities for men and women. Other laws and policies, such as the Protection from Family Violence Act, the Act on Same-Sex Unions and the second National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality, contributed to the effective promotion of women’s rights.

171.The national mechanisms included the Government Office for Gender Equality, which had been established in 2004 as the central government expert body, the Parliamentary Gender Equality Committee, established in 2001, and gender coordinators in ministries and at the local level. The Ombudsperson for Gender Equality was envisaged in the Gender Equality Act and appointed in 2003. Several of these mechanisms had only recently been established and the Government Office for Gender Equality, especially, would need to be further strengthened to ensure effective implementation of existing laws and policies.

172.Women’s participation in political life had consistently increased since the 1990s and women now held 25 per cent of the seats in Parliament, putting the State party above the European average. Of the leading government officials, 30 per cent were women, including four out of 14 ministers and one of the two deputy prime ministers. This positive development was achieved through public debate, the adoption of various laws and strategies, including temporary special measures in accordance with the Convention, and, especially, the commitment of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, women’s participation in local government was significantly lower than at the national level and stood at 14 per cent, and a series of activities aimed at increasing women’s representation in the near term had been launched.

173.The representative of Croatia affirmed the Government’s commitment to cooperate with NGOs in achieving gender equality. Such organizations had received funding for projects to promote women’s political participation, as well as for publications, seminars and symposiums on gender equality and women’s issues. As a result of these seminars, a number of gender equality commissions had been formed at the county level, which would form part of a network of institutional mechanisms at the local and State levels.

174.One of the measures taken to change social and cultural patterns and eliminate prejudice and customs based on stereotyped gender roles was the declaration by the Government of 22 September as the national day of campaigning against violence against women. Its National Strategy for Protection from Family Violence (2005-2007) had been prepared with the participation of NGOs.

175.Turning to article 10 of the Convention, the representative emphasized that there was no gender discrimination in access to education. The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport had solicited opinions, comments and proposals from relevant NGOs in the preparation of new school curricula. The Government had also taken measures to prevent discrimination against women in the labour market and highlighted a project aimed at promoting women’s economic empowerment and creating incentives for women entrepreneurs.

176.The representative pointed out that while most of the Convention’s provisions were being implemented, coordinated action was required in a number of areas to remove obstacles that hampered social change and the attainment of genuine equality of women and men. On the basis of a national report on the implementation of the objectives of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which had the support of representatives of civil society, NGOs, Parliament and the Administration, the Government had singled out a series of priorities for promoting gender equality, including in the areas of women’s education, leadership and political participation, violence against women, women’s economic status, the media, data and statistics, work-life issues and institutional capacity.

177.The representative stated the Government’s readiness to continue to implement the Convention. It had published and disseminated a guide to the Convention and commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of its adoption. The Government would continue to give wide publicity to the Convention and its Optional Protocol.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

178.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined second and third periodic report which is in compliance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of the periodic reports. It commends the State party for including information on action taken in response to the Committee’s concluding comments on the initial report. It also commends the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group, and for the oral presentation and the further clarifications in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

179.The Committee welcomes the State party’s collaboration with women’s NGOs and other civil society organizations in the preparation of the report.

180.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation, which was headed by the Head of the Office for Gender Equality, and included representatives from different ministries with responsibility for several areas of the Convention. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue that took place between the delegation and the members of the Committee, although some of their questions were insufficiently answered.

Positive aspects

181.The Committee commends the State party on articles 14 and 3 of the Constitution on gender equality, and on the enactment of the Gender Equality Act of 2002. It expresses its appreciation for the adoption of other laws and legislative revisions aimed at the promotion of gender equality and eradication of discrimination against women and at achieving compliance with its obligations under the Convention, especially the new Family Law and the Law on Protection from Family Violence, as well as the amendments to the Criminal Code and Labour Code. It also welcomes the second National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality and the planned preparation of a new Policy.

182.The Committee commends the State party on its national machinery for the advancement of women, including on the establishment of commissions on gender equality at the local level.

183.The Committee notes with satisfaction the increase in the number of women in political life, especially in Parliament and in high-level positions in the national Government.

184.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in March 2001, as well as for accepting the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention in October 2003.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

185. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation with respect to the systematic and continuing implementation of all provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

186.The Committee is concerned that the State party has not taken adequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to some concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments adopted in 1998 (see A/53/38/Rev.1, Part one, chap. IV, sect. 1). In particular, the Committee finds that its request to provide more information about the situation of minority women (ibid., para. 115) and of women with disabilities (ibid., para. 116) has been insufficiently addressed.

187. The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to provide the requested information in the next report.

188.While noting that the State party has enacted a package of anti-discrimination laws, the Committee is concerned that insufficient measures have been put in place to ensure their speedy, consistent and effective implementation. The Committee is concerned about the lack of information about women’s use of existing complaints mechanisms, including about court cases brought under these laws, which indicates women’s lack of familiarity with these new laws. It is also concerned that the State party has not taken sufficient concrete action to ensure that judges, magistrates, law enforcement personnel, employers and the legal profession are sufficiently familiar with these legislative reforms.

189. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in the next report, information on the action taken to ensure the implementation of these laws, as well as an assessment of their impact in enhancing the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and ensuring women’s access to justice and redress in cases of violations. The Committee invites the State party to provide information about the number and types of complaints of alleged discrimination against women filed in courts and before other complaints mechanisms, and about their results. It also recommends that the State party strengthen education and training programmes, in particular for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel, on the legislative reforms aimed at eliminating discrimination against women. The Committee recommends that awareness-raising campaigns targeted at women be undertaken so that they can avail themselves of redress mechanisms.

190.The Committee regrets that the report did not provide sufficient sex-disaggregated statistical data in all areas covered by the Convention. It is also concerned that the impact of policies and programmes aimed at eliminating discrimination against women has been insufficiently assessed.

191. The Committee requests the State party to include adequate statistical data in its next report so as to provide a full picture of progress in women’s enjoyment of their rights in relation to the provisions of the Convention. It also recommends that the State party regularly conduct impact assessments of its legislative reforms, policies and programmes so as to ensure that measures taken lead to the desired goals, and that it inform the Committee about the results of these assessments in its next report.

192.While noting the steps taken by the State party to strengthen the national mechanisms for the advancement of women, including the establishment of the Government Office of Gender Equality and of the Ombudsperson for Gender Equality, the Committee expresses its concern that the national machinery does not have enough authority and human and financial resources to carry out its mandate and promote the advancement of women and gender equality effectively. It is also concerned about the Office’s limited capacity to undertake effective coordination and cooperation with all gender equality mechanisms at the national and local levels, as well as cooperation with women’s organizations.

193. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen the national machinery, and especially the Government Office of Gender Equality, by providing it with adequate human and financial resources so as to make it more effective in carrying out its mandate. This should, in particular, include capacity for better and more effective coordination among the various gender equality mechanisms and for enhanced cooperation with civil society.

194.The Committee expresses concern about the serious disadvantages women face in the labour market, as reflected in women’s high unemployment rate, the persistence of strong vertical and horizontal segregation, wage differentials between women and men and the predominance of women in low-wage sectors. The Committee expresses its particular concern about the situation of women older than 40 years, as well as the discriminatory treatment of pregnant women in the labour market. The Committee is also concerned that insufficient attention is being given to policies supporting the sharing of work and family responsibilities between women and men.

195. The Committee urges the State party to ensure de facto equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market through, inter alia, effective implementation of labour legislation and the use of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 on temporary special measures. It urges the State party to encourage women to use existing complaints mechanisms in cases of possible labour market discrimination. The Committee recommends that efforts be made to eliminate occupational segregation and age discrimination against women through education, training and retraining measures, and better use of enforcement mechanisms. It also recommends that the State party consider implementing wage increases in female-dominated public sector areas, such as the judiciary, education and health sectors. The Committee further recommends that measures allowing for the reconciliation of family and professional responsibilities be strengthened and promoted, including awareness-raising for equal sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men.

196.The Committee is concerned that Roma women remain in a vulnerable and marginalized situation, especially in regard to education, employment, health and participation in public life and decision-making. The Committee is also concerned about Roma women’s difficulties in the enjoyment in practice of citizenship rights, in accordance with article 9 of the Convention.

197. The Committee requests the State party to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination against Roma women, both in society at large and within their communities, and to enhance respect for their human rights through effective and proactive measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, and awareness-raising programmes. It calls upon the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, a comprehensive picture of the situation of Roma women and girls, including data disaggregated by sex, in regard to their educational opportunities and achievements, access to employment and health-care services, and participation in public life and decision-making, especially in regard to policies that directly affect them. The Committee requests the State party to ensure equality for Roma women in the enjoyment of citizenship rights. The Committee invites the State party to monitor the situation of Roma women and provide an assessment of the impact of its policy and programmatic measures in support of Roma women in its next report.

198.While recognizing the State party’s efforts to address violence against women, the Committee is concerned about the high incidence of domestic violence, the limited number of shelters available for women victims of violence and the lack of clear procedures, or protocols, for law enforcement and health-care personnel who respond to cases of domestic violence. The Committee is also concerned about the high costs of legal representation in courts, which may be an obstacle to women victims of violence seeking redress through the justice system.

199. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on the implementation of the Law on Protection from Family Violence and to make it widely known to public officials and society at large, as well as promptly to complete and implement its national strategy for protection from domestic violence which is under preparation. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that violence against women is prosecuted and punished, and to facilitate women’s access to legal aid. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that enough shelters are available to women victims of violence. It also calls on the State party to ensure that public officials, especially law enforcement personnel, the judiciary, health-care providers and social workers, are fully familiar with applicable legal provisions, and are sensitized to all forms of violence against women and adequately respond to them.

200.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of sex-stereotyping in educational curricula and in textbooks. It is also concerned that girls and women in secondary schools and universities continue to choose study areas traditionally seen as “female areas” and that they are underrepresented in the sciences.

201. The Committee encourages the State party to intensify its efforts to eliminate gender stereotyping and to strengthen the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in curricula and textbooks. It also requests the State party to enhance the training of teaching staff in regard to gender equality issues. It calls on the State party to further encourage diversification of the educational choices of boys and girls and, at the tertiary level, to attract more women to the field of science and technology, including through temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention. It also urges the State party to encourage a public dialogue on the educational choices girls and women make and their subsequent opportunities and chances in the labour market.

202.The Committee is concerned that women are significantly underrepresented in the executive bodies of local authorities.

203. The Committee recommends that the State party take appropriate measures to increase the representation of women in the executive bodies of local authorities, inter alia by implementing temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25. The Committee recommends that the State party assess the causes for the successful increase of women in public and political life at the national level, including in Parliament and the Government, and to use the lessons learned to increase women’s participation in local government structures.

204.The Committee is concerned about the incidence of trafficking in women and that the State party has become a country of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls. The Committee is concerned that the incidence of trafficking is leading to an increase in exploitation of the prostitution of women.

205. The Committee urges the State party to step up its efforts to combat trafficking in women and girls, including finalization and implementation of its Operative Plan for Prevention of Trafficking, 2004 to 2008. The Committee further calls on the State party to take all appropriate measures to suppress exploitation of the prostitution of women, including through discouraging the demand for prostitution and taking measures to rehabilitate and support women who want to get out of prostitution.

206. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to submit its fourth periodic report, which is due in October 2005, and its fifth periodic report, which is due in October 2009, as a combined report in 2009.

207. Taking account of the gender dimensions of the declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted at relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions (such as the special session of the General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (the twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (the twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and the Second World Assembly on Ageing), the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

208. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, i.e., the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of the Republic of Croatia to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, i.e., the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

209. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Republic of Croatia of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Croatia, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the Government to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

5.Combined second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report

Gabon

210.The Committee considered the combined second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report of Gabon (CEDAW/C/GAB/2-5) at its 669th and 670th meetings, held on 13 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.669 and 670).

Introduction by the State party

211.Introducing the report, the representative of Gabon clarified certain points relating to the consideration of the initial report, submitted in 1989. Continuing, she informed the Committee that the Ministry for the Advancement of Women dealt with women’s issues across the board. In outlining the main features of the report to the Committee, she mentioned improvements as well as current problems concerning the situation of women in Gabon.

212.At the legal level, an inventory of the main texts that discriminated against women had been compiled in 1997 and submitted to the Council of Ministers. An inter-ministerial committee had been given the task of reviewing the texts. In 2000, a law liberalizing contraception and defining other health-protection measures had been adopted. In July 1998, the Nationality Code had been revised. A provision had been introduced authorizing both spouses to obtain the nationality of the other. A revision of the organic law on the Constitutional Court authorized women to raise the “exception of non-constitutionality” of a law in any court. In September 2004, the law to prevent and combat trafficking in children had been adopted and promulgated.

213.In the social field, the representative touched on improvements in the process of mainstreaming the approach to gender, equality of treatment between the two sexes in respect of the same qualification, the introduction of coordination among women’s non-governmental organizations and the creation of a ministry to oversee the campaign against poverty. In addition, a national commission to combat poverty and illicit gains had been set up, and an intensive drive against HIV/AIDS had been launched by the Government, various associations and non-governmental organizations.

214.At the political level, the representative emphasized that there was no discrimination based on gender in respect of the participation of women in public life. She added that important posts of responsibility were held by women. In 2002, the President of the Republic had requested that each electoral list must include at least three women eligible for election. In 2003, he had required each ministerial department chief to nominate at least four women counsellors out of 10.

215.In the economic field, she recalled that the “Grand Prix of the President of the Republic for the promotion of the socio-economic activities of women” was granted on 17 April each year on the occasion of National Women’s Day. She also mentioned various projects launched by the Government and the activities of the associations movement with the aim of ensuring women’s economic independence and of resolving difficulties with banks.

216.With regard to education, the representative noted an improvement with respect to compulsory education of children aged 6 to 16 years. She mentioned the creation of a committee to combat AIDS in schools, the existence of a budget for promoting literacy in rural areas and the suppression of indecent conduct and offences against morals in order to protect the sexual life of young girls.

217.The representative acknowledged, however, that sociocultural obstacles were delaying the process of eliminating discrimination against women. She recalled that various kinds of traditional resistance could be found in legal texts and in everyday practice. She stressed that the inertia of customs, the lack of combativity and solidarity among women, the non-functioning of certain government structures and lack of relevant human and financial resources constituted obstacles, but it was not impossible to overcome them. She mentioned that the training of women in rural areas was a matter that concerned the Government.

218.In the health field, she mentioned that, in 2003, the State had developed and adopted a national reproductive-health policy and that a national survey on the availability and use of emergency obstetric care was being undertaken. In 2004, health personnel had been offered training in contraceptive technology.

219.In conclusion, the representative reaffirmed her Government’s undertaking to make every effort to ensure that the provisions of the Convention were implemented. The recent accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention testified to that.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

220.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report, while regretting that it was long overdue. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation in response to the questions posed by the Committee.

221.The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, which was headed by the Minister for the Family, the Protection of Children and the Advancement of Women and which included representatives of other ministries with responsibility for implementation of the Convention, as well as the President of the Observatory for Women’s Rights and Equality. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the frank and constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

222.The Committee welcomes the declared commitment and political will of the State party to implement fully the provisions of the Convention and to overcome the obstacles to women’s equal participation in all aspects of public and private life.

223.The Committee notes with satisfaction that, following ratification and official publication, international conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, prevail over national laws and are directly applicable at the national level.

224.The Committee welcomes the adoption of Law No. 09/2004 to prevent and combat trafficking in children; of Law No. 1/2000, which, among other matters, liberalized contraception by repealing Ordinance No. 64/69 of 4 October 1969 forbidding the use of contraceptives; and of Act No. 37/98 on the new Nationality Code establishing equal rights of men and women in regard to nationality.

225.The Committee notes with appreciation that in 2004 the State party acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

226. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on these areas in its implementation activities and to report on actions taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

227.The Committee expresses concern that, while article 2 of the Constitution guarantees equality before the law to all citizens without distinction, including on the basis of sex, neither a definition of discrimination in accordance with article 1 of the Convention nor the principle of equality between women and men, as set forth in article 2 (a) of the Convention, have been included in the Constitution or other appropriate legislation. The Committee is also concerned about the State party’s limited understanding of its obligations under the Convention to eliminate discrimination and ensure the practical realization of the principle of equality of women and men.

228. The Committee recommends that a definition of discrimination against women in line with article 1 of the Convention and the principle of equality of women and men in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention be included in the Constitution or in other appropriate domestic legislation. The Committee urges the State party to elaborate and implement without delay a comprehensive national strategy and plan of action for the full implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. The Committee also urges the State party to include a gender perspective in existing sectoral policies and plans, and to enhance programmes for the advancement of women with temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 on temporary special measures, whenever appropriate.

229.While noting that women’s access to justice and redress for alleged violations of their rights is provided for by law, the Committee is concerned that their ability to exercise this right in practice and to bring cases of discrimination before the courts may be inhibited by economic or cultural obstacles.

230. The Committee urges the State party to remove impediments and ensure access to affordable, effective and expeditious means of redress for women, including through awareness-raising about the availability of remedies against discrimination, and the provision of legal aid. The Committee also encourages the State party to monitor the effectiveness of such efforts.

231.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of discriminatory legal provisions, particularly pertaining to marriage and family relations, in the Civil and Penal Codes, including in respect of minimum age of marriage, separation and divorce, custody of children, equal-inheritance rights of widows and equal choice of residence and profession. The Committee is also concerned that the Civil Code recognizes the option of polygamy. Although an inventory of discriminatory legislation was compiled in 1997 and a number of studies have been undertaken on the discriminatory impact of legislation, the Committee is concerned about the lack of progress in amending discriminatory laws, in particular the Civil and Penal Codes.

232. The Committee urges the State party to accelerate the process of legal reform to eliminate discriminatory provisions, especially in the Civil and Penal Codes to ensure their full compliance with articles 2 and 16 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 21 on equality in marriage and family relations. The Committee urges the State party to establish a concrete programme and timetable for such a reform process and to activate fully the inter-ministerial committee established for the purpose of reviewing the discriminatory aspects of the various codes. The Committee also encourages the State party to step up its efforts to increase awareness about the importance of legal reform for achieving de jure and de facto equality for women in accordance with its obligations under the Convention.

233.The Committee is concerned about the lack of specific legislation to eliminate violence against women, including domestic violence.

234.The Committee regrets that the report does not provide sufficient statistical data on the situation of women in all areas covered by the Convention or information on the impact and results of measures taken.

235. The Committee calls upon the State party to put in place a comprehensive system of data collection and of measurable indicators to assess trends in the situation of women and progress towards women’s de facto equality. It invites the State party, as necessary, to seek international assistance for the development of such data collection and analysis efforts. The Committee also requests the State party to include in its next report statistical data and analysis, disaggregated by sex and by rural and urban areas, indicating the impact of measures and the results achieved.

236. In accordance with its general recommendation 19, the Committee urges the State party to give high priority to putting in place comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls, recognizing that such violence is a form of discrimination against women and constitutes a violation of their human rights under the Convention. The Committee calls upon the State party to enact, as soon as possible, legislation on violence against women, including domestic violence, so as to ensure that violence against women constitutes a criminal offence, that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished. The Committee recommends that the State party also implement educational and awareness-raising measures aimed at law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health providers, social workers, community leaders and the general public, in order to ensure that they are sensitized to the unacceptability of all forms of violence against women. It also recommends the introduction of measures to provide medical, psychological and legal assistance to victims of violence.

237.While welcoming the adoption of a law to prevent and combat trafficking in children, the Committee is concerned that similar measures have not been undertaken with regard to trafficking in women.

238. The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to combat trafficking in women and girls, including the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to prevent trafficking, punish offenders and protect and rehabilitate victims.

239.The Committee expresses its concern about the prevalence of entrenched adverse customs and traditions, including early and forced marriage, polygamy, widowhood practices and levirate, as well as the persistence of stereotypes that discriminate against women and constitute a violation of women’s human rights under the Convention. The Committee is particularly concerned about the State party’s limited efforts to address directly such discriminatory practices and stereotypes and its position that the current widespread support for and adherence to these practices would prevent compliance with legislative measures designed to eliminate them.

240. The Committee urges the introduction without delay, and in conformity with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention, of measures, including legislation, to modify or eliminate customs and cultural and traditional practices that discriminate against women, so as to promote women’s full enjoyment of their human rights. The Committee calls upon the State party to develop and implement comprehensive educational measures and awareness-raising campaigns to facilitate an enhanced understanding of equality between women and men and to challenge cultural traditions and stereotypical attitudes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women in the family and society. The Committee recommends that these efforts be targeted at women and men in all segments of society, including public officials at all levels of Government, community and traditional leaders, employers and the general public. The Committee encourages the State party to undertake such efforts in collaboration with civil society and women’s and human rights organizations, and to seek effective cooperation with the media, including radio and print media. It also urges the State party to make better use of the formal education system, including through revision of school curriculums and textbooks, to further these efforts.

241.The Committee expresses concern that, although education is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16 under Act No. 16/66 of 10 August 1966, the attendance rates for girls drop precipitously at higher levels of education, with 39.94 per cent in junior high school and 7.20 per cent in upper high school. The Committee is also concerned that the attendance rates for girls drop to 2.63 per cent in higher education.

242. The Committee urges the State party to raise awareness of the importance of education as a fundamental human right and as a basis for the empowerment of women. It recommends that the State party prioritize efforts to ensure equal access of girls and young women to all levels of education and to increase their rates of enrolment and retention, including through the use of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 on temporary special measures, by giving incentives to parents and scholarships to girl students. The Committee encourages the State party to use its educational and training systems systematically for enhancing knowledge about the Convention and women’s right to equality and non-discrimination.

243.While the Committee commends the State party for introducing temporary special measures to increase the number of women in public life and decision-making, it is concerned at the low level of women’s participation, particularly in the National Assembly and the Senate, and at the international level, and the insufficient information provided about the implementation of articles 7 and 8 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 23 on women in public life and decision-making.

244. The Committee recommends that the State party implement temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to increase the number of women in decision-making positions. The Committee urges the State party to implement and strengthen training and awareness-raising programmes to highlight the importance of women’s participation in decision-making at all levels, including at the international level, and to create enabling, encouraging and supportive conditions for such participation.

245.The Committee is concerned that the report contained insufficient information on measures taken to address infant and maternal mortality, on access to family planning services and on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

246. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next report detailed statistical and analytical information on measures taken to improve women’s access to health-related services and information, in particular in rural areas, including in regard to sexual and reproductive health and family planning, and the impact of these measures, in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health.

247.The Committee is concerned about the situation of rural women, particularly in view of their geographic isolation and lack of access to adequate nutrition and sanitation, health care, education and income-generating opportunities. This situation leads to multiple forms of discrimination against rural women. The Committee is also concerned about the absence of statistical information related to rural and indigenous women.

248. The Committee urges the State party to implement, on a priority basis, measures to ensure that rural women have full access to adequate nutrition and sanitation, health-care services, education and income-generating opportunities. The Committee invites the State party, as necessary, to seek assistance from relevant specialized agencies of the United Nations to improve the standard of living of rural women.

249. The Committee recommends that the State party avail itself of technical and financial assistance from the international community, as indicated in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, in order to facilitate implementation of the Convention.

250. The Committee recommends that the State party take concrete steps to encourage and facilitate the active participation of civil society in the full implementation of the Convention, including in the follow-up to the concluding comments. The Committee further recommends that the State party consult with non-governmental organizations during the preparation of the next periodic report.

251. The Committee encourages the State party to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

252. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to submit its sixth periodic report, which was due in February 2004, and its seventh periodic report, which is due in February 2008, in a combined report in 2008.

253. Taking account of the gender dimensions of declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions, such as the special session of the General Assembly for the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

254. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, namely, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Gabon to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

255. The Committee requests that the present concluding comments be widely disseminated in Gabon, in the French and Bantu languages, in order to make the people of Gabon, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

6.Combined third and fourth periodic report and fifth periodic report

Paraguay

256.The Committee considered the combined third and fourth, and the fifth periodic reports of Paraguay (CEDAW/PAR/3-4 and CEDAW/C/PAR/5 and Corr.1) at its 671st and 672nd meetings, held on 14 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.671 and 672).

Introduction by the State party

257.In introducing the report, the representative of Paraguay described the main activities undertaken by the current Government, which had assumed office on 15 August 2003, and by the Women’s Bureau of the Office of the President of the Republic and said that the Convention was the legal framework for promoting civil and constitutional reforms aimed at achieving equality between men and women.

258.The representative described the progress that had been made in the field of legislation since Paraguay’s ratification of the Convention and reported that the Civil, Labour, Elections and Penal Codes had all been amended to guarantee equality and non-discrimination for women in their respective fields. She highlighted the promulgation of Law 1600 on domestic violence and the adoption of the Childhood and Adolescence Code and the Agrarian Act.

259.At the institutional level, the Women’s Bureau had launched an institutional modernization plan, thereby reaffirming its standard-setting, political and strategic role and developing comprehensive policies for the implementation of the Second National Plan for Equal Opportunities for Men and Women for the period 2003 to 2007. The representative drew attention to the establishment of the Gender and Social Equity Committee of the House of Representatives and of the Equity, Gender and Social Development Committee of the Senate, as well as to the introduction of programmes to achieve equality between women and men in various ministries and of comprehensive plans under the national strategy to combat poverty and social exclusion.

260.The representative informed the Committee of the progress that had been made towards greater participation by women in politics and pointed to the appointment of a woman to the Supreme Court of Justice of Paraguay after 94 years and the presence of women at the highest levels of various ministries. She also described the efforts being made to promote the participation of women through an increase in the quota of participation to 50 per cent.

261.The representative informed the Committee of the measures that had been adopted to prevent and punish domestic violence, such as programmes for the dissemination and implementation of Law 1600 and for training in the Law; continuation of the National Plan for the Prevention and Punishment of Violence against Women and of the National Network for Victims of Domestic Violence; the signing of an agreement with the Programme of Assistance for the Rehabilitation of Violent Males; and various other training programmes.

262.The representative reported that a new National Sexual and Reproductive Health Plan (2003-2008) had been launched in early 2003 that sought to address the main problems affecting women, such as death during pregnancy, childbirth and the lying-in period. Under this Plan, a programme known as “Safe childbirth” was launched that provided free care to pregnant women and to children under the age of five years. In order to prevent HIV/AIDS infection and to promote access to contraceptive choices for women, women leaders had signed the “Declaration of Commitment” at the meeting on “Women overcoming HIV/AIDS”.

263.The representative outlined the progress achieved under the National Programme for Equality of Opportunities and Outcomes for Women in Education, such as the mainstreaming of gender in the reform of curricula and teaching materials and in the training of teachers. The representative described the problem of sexual harassment, of which schoolgirls were the main victims, as one of the challenges faced by the Ministry of Education and Culture and informed the Committee of the measures that had been taken to remedy the situation.

264.The representative described the plans of the current Government to deal with the problem of trafficking in persons, including the establishment of an inter-institutional committee coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of civil society, bilateral projects for the review of laws and legal loopholes, and the establishment of a national network against trafficking in persons and of a shelter to provide care for victims.

265.In conclusion, the representative reiterated to the Committee her Government’s commitment to the achievement of equality between men and women and said that her delegation was ready to participate in a constructive dialogue.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

266.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined third and fourth periodic reports and its fifth report, while noting that they did not fully comply with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. The Committee also expresses its appreciation to the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation and further clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

267.The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, which was headed by the Minister in charge of the Women’s Bureau of the Office of the President of the Republic and also included officials from the judiciary and the legislature. In this regard, the Committee notes with appreciation the efforts of the State party to work with different stakeholders on the promotion of gender equality and the implementation of the Convention. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

268.The Committee commends the State party on the revision or adoption of several laws, including the revision of the Penal and Civil Codes and the Electoral Law, and the adoption of Law 1600 on domestic violence. The Committee particularly welcomes the introduction of provisions in the Labour Code to protect the rights of domestic workers in the informal sector.

269.The Committee appreciates the adoption of the Second National Plan for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (2003-2007), the Second National Sexual and Reproductive Health Plan (2003-2008), the Equal Educational Opportunity and Achievement Programme for Women and the Strategic Plan for Educational Reform, which introduced bilingual education (Spanish/Guaraní) from which rural women will benefit in particular.

270.The Committee welcomes the efforts aimed at strengthening the national machinery for the advancement of women, including the creation of the Commission of Social Equity and Gender of the Chamber of the National Congress, the Commission of Equity, Gender and Social Development of the Chamber of the Senate and women’s bureaux in the various ministries and municipalities of the country.

271.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in May 2001.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

272. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation with respect to the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

273.The Committee is concerned that the State party has failed to take adequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to several concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments adopted in 1996 (see A/51/38, chap. IV, sect. B.1). In particular, the Committee finds that its concerns about the low participation of women in decision-making bodies and in political and public life (ibid., para. 129) and the high illiteracy and dropout rates among women (ibid., para. 130) have been insufficiently addressed.

274. The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to proceed without delay with their implementation in the light of the Committee’s general recommendations No. 23 on women in political and public life and No. 25 on article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention on temporary special measures.

275.The Committee expresses concern that, while the Constitution recognizes equality of women and men in its articles 47 and 48, a definition of discrimination in accordance with article 1 of the Convention and prohibition of such discrimination is lacking in the Constitution or in other national legislation. The Committee is also concerned that, although the Convention forms part of national legislation and may be invoked before the courts, there are no cases in which this has actually occurred. The Committee is furthermore concerned about the lack of legal literacy programmes for women.

276. The Committee calls upon the State party to take urgent steps to incorporate a definition of discrimination against women as contained in article 1 of the Convention into the Constitution or other national legislation. It also requests the State party to take steps to ensure that the provisions of the Convention can be effectively enforced within the national legal framework. The Committee invites the State party to take steps to enhance women’s awareness of their rights so that they can claim all their rights.

277.The Committee notes with concern that, although the Constitution refers to the principle of equality, the term mostly used in plans and programmes is “equity”, which the State party considers to be a compensatory means of achieving equality.

278. The Committee urges the State party to take note that the terms “equity” and “equality” are not synonymous or interchangeable and that the Convention is directed towards eliminating discrimination against women and ensuring de jure and de facto equality between women and men. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party use the term “equality” henceforth.

279.While commending the State party on the adoption of Act No. 1600 on domestic violence, which provides protective measures to women and other members of the household, in particular children and the elderly, the Committee expresses concern that the penalty imposed on perpetrators of such violence is only a fine. It is also concerned that provisions contained in the Penal Code in relation to domestic violence and sexual abuse inadequately penalize such acts.

280. The Committee urges the State party to take a comprehensive approach to violence against women and girls. To that end, the Committee urges the State party to undertake, without delay, a revision of article 229 of Act No. 1600 on domestic violence and of articles 136 and 137 of the Penal Code to bring them into line with the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 19, to combat effectively all forms of violence against women, including physical, psychological and economic violence, by ensuring that perpetrators of such acts are prosecuted and punished and that women are effectively protected against reprisals. The Committee calls upon the State party to establish shelters and other services for victims of violence. The Committee invites the State party to intensify its efforts to increase awareness among public officials, especially law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health-care providers and social workers and to reinforce the notion that such violence is socially and morally unacceptable and constitutes discrimination against women and violates their human rights. The Committee encourages the State party to enhance collaboration and coordination with civil society organizations, in particular women’s associations, to strengthen the implementation and monitoring of legislation and programmes aimed at eliminating violence against women.

281.The Committee expresses concern that the minimum legal age of marriage is 16 years for both girls and boys and that such a low legal age of marriage may prevent girls from continuing their education and lead them to drop out of school early.

282. The Committee encourages the State party to take measures towards raising the minimum legal age of marriage for girls and boys with a view to bringing it into line with article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as anyone under the age of 18 years, and with article 16, paragraph 2, of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

283.While appreciating the State party’s efforts to address the issue of trafficking in women and girls, including the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2003, its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in 2004 and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in 2003, and the establishment of an inter-agency board including representatives of civil society to combat trafficking, the Committee is concerned that domestic legislation has not been put in place in line with those instruments and that provisions on sexual exploitation and trafficking of girls and boys are absent from the Childhood and Adolescence Code. It also expresses concern about the lack of a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate trafficking of women and to protect victims, as well as the lack of systematic data collection on this phenomenon.

284. The Committee recommends that the State party bring its domestic legislation into line with the ratified international instruments and implement and fully fund a national strategy to combat trafficking in women and girls, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders. The Committee also encourages the State party to pursue increased international, regional and bilateral cooperation with other countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls. It recommends that the State party address the causes of trafficking and introduce measures aimed at improving the economic situation of women so as to eliminate their vulnerability to traffickers, educational initiatives and social support measures, and rehabilitation and reintegration measures for women and girls who have been victims of trafficking.

285.While taking note of the amendments to the Labour Code in regard to domestic workers, the Committee remains concerned about the lack of enforcement of the Code in the public and private sectors, the poor working conditions for women in the informal sector, the low participation of women in the formal labour market, persistent wage disparities between women and men, and discriminatory practices vis-à-vis domestic workers, such as workdays of 12 hours and remuneration below the minimum wage. The Committee is particularly concerned about the high number of girls performing domestic work without remuneration.

286. The Committee urges the State party to put in place effective monitoring mechanisms to ensure the enforcement of existing legislation, particularly as it applies to domestic workers. It also urges the State party to implement temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 in order to increase the number of women in the formal workforce. The Committee requests the State party to address the issue of girls performing domestic work by bringing its legislation and policies into line with its obligations under International Labour Organization Conventions No. 138 and No. 182, concerning respectively the minimum age of 14 years for admission to employment and the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. It also encourages the State party to implement awareness-raising campaigns through the media and public education programmes on the situation of girls performing domestic work. The Committee urges the State party to address the underlying causes of the high incidence of girls performing domestic work.

287.The Committee remains concerned about the persistent high maternal mortality rates, particularly deaths due to illegal abortions, the limited access of women to health care and family planning programmes and the apparently unmet need for contraceptives.

288. The Committee reiterates the recommendation made in its previous concluding comments and urges the State party to act without delay and implement effective measures to deal with the high maternal mortality rate, to prevent women from having to resort to unsafe abortions and to protect them from the negative effects on their health, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 24 on women and health and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Committee urges the Government to strengthen the implementation of programmes and policies aimed at providing effective access for women to health-care information and services, in particular regarding reproductive health and affordable contraceptive methods, with the aim of preventing clandestine abortions. It further recommends holding a national consultation with civil society groups, including women’s groups, to address the issue of abortion, which is illegal under the current law and is a cause of women’s high mortality rates.

289.The Committee remains concerned about the situation of rural women, who continue to have limited access to land ownership and to credit facilities and extension services, thus perpetuating their poor social and economic conditions, notwithstanding the adoption of the Agrarian Act. It is also concerned about the extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, which, when improperly used, are harmful to the health of rural women and their families.

290. The Committee urges the State party to address the rights, needs and concerns of rural women through the effective implementation of the Agrarian Act without delay and to implement vocational training programmes for rural women to ensure equal opportunities and access to the labour market. It further encourages the State party to ensure the participation of rural women in the development of policies aimed at benefiting rural areas and to enhance their access to environmentally sound technologies that are not harmful to their health.

291.The Committee is concerned about the poor conditions of indigenous women, including monolingual Guaraní women, reflected in their high illiteracy rates, which surpass the national average, low school enrolment rates, poor access to health care and significant levels of poverty, which lead them to migrate to urban centres where they are even more vulnerable to multiple forms of discrimination.

292. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that all policies and programmes explicitly address the high illiteracy rates and the needs of indigenous women, including monolingual Guaraní women, and to actively seek their participation in the formulation and implementation of sectoral policies and programmes. It recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to implement bilingual educational programmes at all levels of education and to ensure indigenous women’s access to education and health care. The Committee also encourages the State party to adopt temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 on temporary special measures, to accelerate such access for indigenous women. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its programmes of dissemination, education and training on the Convention and its Optional Protocol for indigenous women, including monolingual Guaraní women.

293. The Committee urges the State party to establish a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the implementation and impact of the current plans and policies aimed at realizing equality for women and to take such corrective action as may be necessary if they are found to be inadequate to achieve their intended goals. The Committee invites the State party to include in its next report an evaluation, including statistics, of the impact on women, including indigenous women, monolingual Guaraní women and women from rural areas, of the actions, measures, policies and studies undertaken to achieve de facto equality between women and men.

294. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its sixth periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in May 2008.

295. Taking account of the gender dimensions of declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions, such as the special session of the General Assembly for the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

296. The Committee commends the State party for having ratified the seven major international human rights instruments. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to those instruments, namely the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life.

297. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Paraguay of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Paraguay, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

7.Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports

Italy

298.The Committee considered Italy’s fourth and fifth periodic report (CEDAW/C/ITA/4-5) at its 681st and 682nd meetings, on 25 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.681 and 682).

Introduction by the State party

299.In his introduction, the representative of Italy noted that the State party’s efforts to reaffirm the dignity of women and to protect them from all forms of discrimination, abuse and violence were a follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action, which had brought renewed commitment to the advancement of women’s rights. He provided an update on developments in four selected areas since the completion of the report in 2002.

300.In 2003, action had been taken towards incorporating European Directive 2002/73 into the domestic legal framework, with the aim of mainstreaming gender equality in regard to access to the labour market, education and professional training, and working and social conditions. The country’s legislation already prohibited direct and indirect discrimination based on sex and the Directive would broaden the definition of sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace and measures that employees might take in response to such discriminatory actions.

301.The State party’s commitment to implementing the Convention was reflected in the establishment, in 1996, of the Office of the Minister for Equal Opportunities, which was responsible for coordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of equal opportunity policies. The mandate and objectives of the National Commission for Equal Opportunities, which was now chaired by the Minister, had also been reformed. In 2004, the Ministry established the National Office for the Promotion of Equality and Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination as an operational instrument to fight all forms of discrimination.

302.The commitment of the Government to the participation of women in political and socio-economic decision-making was reflected in the amendment to article 51 of the Constitution, introducing the principle of gender equality in access to political office. Law 90 of 2004 required at least one third of candidates from either sex for election to the European Parliament. As this had led to a substantial increase in women elected in June 2004 (19.23 per cent of the total as compared to 11.5 per cent in 1999), a similar bill was under consideration for other elections.

303.Despite an unfavourable economic climate, women’s employment rates continued to rise, as did women’s participation in the workforce. Women’s rate of economic activity increased by 3.7 per cent between 1998 and 2003. Between 2000 and 2003, 63 per cent of new workers were women. A new initiative within the European Union framework on gender equality issues aimed to promote the role of women workers. The Government’s full commitment to family issues was reflected inter alia in a national action plan on social inclusion, aimed at preventing social marginalization and exclusion of the elderly, children and persons with disabilities. The “Biagi” Law to reform the labour market, which envisaged new forms of flexibility, particularly part-time work, was among the measures aimed at better reconciliation of work and family life and the promotion of equal opportunities for women, particularly in the workplace. A fund had been established in 2003 to support companies in establishing childcare services in the workplace.

304.High priority was being accorded to protecting women from all forms of violence and strict provisions had been enacted to that end, including laws and policies relating to sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse. Efforts to combat trafficking, both through legislation and social services, remained one of the main priorities. Under article 18 of Law 286, residence permits for reasons of social protection could be issued to trafficking victims. Seventy per cent of the costs of assistance programmes were funded by the Government, with the balance being provided by local councils. The projects funded through this approach had demonstrated their effectiveness. Law 228 of 2003, which established trafficking as a specific crime, also reflected the provisions of the Protocol to Prevent, Punish and Suppress Trafficking in Human Beings.

305.Women’s health had emerged as one of the main issues of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Government attached the utmost importance to that issue. The current National Health Plan (2002-2004) included initiatives to reduce Caesarean sections, and the Mother-Child Objective Project aimed to achieve appropriate levels of care for every birth. The Chamber of Deputies was considering a programme to provide pregnant women with personalized assistance in order to safeguard their rights during delivery.

306.In conclusion, the representative of Italy noted that while not all expectations had been met, the Government remained committed to achieving them, and new strategies and policies were being developed to eliminate all forms of gender-based discrimination and promote effective equal opportunity policies. Dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, including political actors, non-governmental organizations and social partners, was the best and most meaningful way to promote women’s rights.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

307.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined fourth and fifth periodic report (CEDAW/C/ITA/4-5), although it regrets that it was overdue, provided insufficient analytical information on the de facto situation of women and did not comply with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of reports. The Committee also regrets that information not contained in the report, including on articles 8, 9, 15 and 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was requested in the list of issues and questions, was again not provided in the State party’s written responses.

308.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for the constructive dialogue but regrets that the delegation was unable to provide succinct, clear and direct answers to the questions posed by the Committee.

309.The Committee regrets the limited involvement of non-governmental organizations during the preparation of the report.

Positive aspects

310.The Committee commends the State party for amending article 51 of the Constitution which, as was stated by the delegation, is the vehicle through which the Convention will become part of the law of the land and forms the constitutional basis for the use of temporary special measures, including the use of quotas for accelerating the increased participation of women in political and public life.

311.The Committee commends the State party for the legislative reforms taken in the past few years for the advancement of women, including Law 66/1996 on sexual violence, Law 53/2000 on parental leave and Law 154 of 2001, on inter alia, protection measures in favour of trafficked women.

312.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in September 2000, as well as for accepting the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention in May 1996.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

313. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation regarding the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls on the State party to focus on these areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved, in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

314.The Committee is concerned that the State party has taken inadequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to several concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments adopted in 1997 (see A/52/38/Rev.1, part two, sect. B.4). In particular, the Committee finds that its concerns about the low participation of women in public and political life (ibid., para. 355), and lack of programmes to combat stereotypes through the formal education system and to encourage men to undertake their fair share of domestic responsibilities (ibid., para. 356) have been inadequately addressed.

315. The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to proceed without delay with their implementation.

316.The Committee is concerned that while the amendment to article 51 of the Constitution provides for equal opportunities for men and women, there is no definition of discrimination against women in accordance with article 1 of the Convention in the Constitution or in legislation other than in the field of employment. The Committee is concerned that the absence of such a provision contributes to the limited understanding of substantive equality evident in the State party, including among public officials and in the judiciary.

317. The Committee recommends that a definition of discrimination against women in line with article 1 of the Convention be included in the Constitution or in appropriate laws. It also recommends the implementation of campaigns to raise awareness about the Convention and the State party’s obligations under the Convention, and the meaning and scope of discrimination against women, aimed at the general public and especially public officials, the judiciary and the legal profession.

318.While recognizing the efforts of the State party to integrate a gender perspective in all fields, the Committee is concerned about the absence of specific national machinery for the advancement of women. It is also concerned that, as the work of the Ministry of Equal Opportunities covers a number of grounds of discrimination, this may result in low priority and insufficient focus being given to the specific nature of discrimination against women and its relevance across all the prohibited grounds. It is further concerned about the significant erosion of the powers and functions of the National Commission for Equality and Equal Opportunities.

319. The Committee recommends that the State party put in place an institutional structure which recognizes the specificity of discrimination against women and which is exclusively responsible for the advancement of women and for monitoring the practical realization of the principle of substantive equality of women and men in the enjoyment of human rights. In order to achieve this, the Committee recommends the strengthening of a national institution to monitor and support the enjoyment by women of their human rights across all fields.

320.The Committee is concerned that the different levels of authority and competencies in the State party create difficulties in respect of the implementation of the Convention throughout the country. Noting the full responsibility of national Governments in decentralized and federal States to ensure implementation of international obligations by regions, the Committee is concerned about the absence of appropriate national structures to ensure the implementation of the Convention by regional and local authorities and institutions.

321. The Committee recommends that the State party promote uniformity of norms and results in the implementation of the Convention throughout the country through effective coordination and the establishment of mechanisms to ensure the full implementation of the Convention by all regional and local authorities and institutions.

322.The Committee remains concerned about the persistence and pervasiveness of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society. These stereotypes undermine women’s social status, present a significant impediment to the implementation of the Convention and are a root cause of women’s disadvantaged position in a number of areas, including in the labour market and in political and public life. The Committee is also deeply concerned about the portrayal of women in the media and in advertising as sex objects and in stereotypical roles.

323. The Committee calls upon the State party to adopt a large-scale, comprehensive and coordinated programme to combat the widespread acceptance of stereotypical roles of men and women, including awareness-raising and educational campaigns aimed at women and men, to help ensure the elimination of stereotypes associated with men’s and women’s traditional roles in the family and in society at large, in accordance with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. It recommends that the State party make every effort to disseminate information on the Convention among both private and public actors to increase awareness and understanding of the meaning and content of the substantive equality of women. It also recommends that the media and advertising agencies be specifically targeted and encouraged to project an image of women as equal partners in all spheres of life and that concerted efforts be made to change the perception of women as sex objects and primarily responsible for child-rearing.

324.While noting with appreciation the increase in the number of Italian women in the European Parliament, the Committee remains deeply concerned about the severe underrepresentation of women in political and public positions, including in elected bodies, the judiciary and at the international level. The Committee is especially concerned that the political participation of women at the national level has fallen in recent years and remains among the lowest in Europe.

325. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained measures to increase the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies and in the judiciary and at the international level. It recommends that the State party introduce appropriate measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to increase the number of women in political and public positions. It further encourages the State party to step up efforts to pass legislation under article 51 of the Constitution to increase the number of women in political and public positions, including through the use of quotas, and to ensure adequate representation in such positions of Roma and migrant women, and women from the south of the country. The Committee recommends that the State party carry out awareness-raising campaigns among both men and women on the importance of women’s participation in political and public life and in decision-making, and that it create enabling, encouraging and supportive conditions for such participation.

326.While noting the sharp increase in the employment rate among women, the Committee is concerned about the serious disadvantages women face in the labour market, including the underrepresentation of women in senior positions, the concentration of women in certain low-wage sectors and in part-time work, the considerable wage gap between men and women and the lack of implementation of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. While noting that Law 53/2000 recognizes the right of both parents to take leave from work to care for a child during early infancy, the Committee is concerned that a very small percentage of men take advantage of this opportunity.

327. The Committee urges the State party to accelerate and ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market through, inter alia, temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation 25, and to ensure equal pay for work of equal value. It also recommends that the State party extend full social security benefits to part-time workers, the majority of whom are women, and take measures to eliminate occupational segregation, in particular through education and training. The Committee further urges the State party to give women more access to full-time employment and to improve the availability of affordable childcare facilities, and encourage men, including through awareness-raising, to take equal responsibility for childcare.

328.The Committee, while noting the legislative reforms in the area of violence against women, remains concerned about the persistence of violence against women, including domestic violence, and the absence of a comprehensive strategy to combat all forms of violence against women. While recognizing the efforts made by the State party to combat trafficking in women, the Committee is concerned about the impact of Law 189/2002 (the so-called Bossi-Fini law) which grants discretionary power to local authorities to place restrictions on victims of trafficking and for the issue of stay permits.

329. The Committee urges the State party to accord priority attention to the adoption of comprehensive measures to address violence against women and girls in accordance with its general recommendation 19 on violence against women. The Committee underscores the need to fully implement and monitor the effectiveness of the laws on sexual violence and domestic violence, provide shelters, protection and counselling services to victims, punish and rehabilitate offenders, and implement training and awareness-raising for public officials, the judiciary and members of the public. The Committee also encourages the State party to revisit Law 189/2002 with a view to ensuring that all victims of trafficking benefit from stay permits on the grounds of social protection.

330.The Committee expresses its concern that the report contains insufficient data and information on the impact of health-care policies on women, particularly regarding the impact of the privatized health system on women’s health, and the impact of initiatives taken to reduce caesarean sections and prevent cancer. The Committee is concerned about the lack of data and analytical information on the care of elderly women and the health care available to women in the south.

331. The Committee requests the State party to monitor the impact on women of its health-care policies, including the National Health Plan, and to provide in its next report detailed statistical and analytical information on measures taken to improve women’s health, including the impact of these measures, in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health. The Committee also requests the State party to provide information on the care of elderly women, health-care policies in place for women in the south and policies to prevent HIV transmission between adults, including the impact of these measures.

332.The Committee is concerned that certain groups of women, including Roma and migrant women, remain in a vulnerable and marginalized situation, especially in regard to education, employment, health and participation in public life and decision-making. The Committee is particularly concerned about the impact of Law 189/2002, which imposes far-reaching restrictions on migrant women workers, and about the absence of laws and policies concerning asylum-seekers and refugees, including lack of recognition of gender-related forms of persecution in determining refugee status.

333. The Committee urges the State party to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination against vulnerable groups of women, including Roma and migrant women, and to enhance respect for their human rights through all available means, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25. It calls on the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, a comprehensive picture of the de facto position of Roma and migrant women in the areas of education, employment, health and participation in political and public life. The Committee also encourages the State party to revisit the provisions of Law 189/2002 with a view to removing the current restrictions on migrant women, and to adopt laws and policies which recognize gender-related forms of persecution in the determination of refugee status.

334. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in 2006.

335. The Committee requests the State party to ensure the wide participation of all ministries and public bodies in, and consult non-governmental organizations during, the preparation of its next report. It encourages the State party to involve Parliament in a discussion of the report before its submission to the Committee.

336. Taking account of the gender dimensions of declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions, such as the special session of the General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (the twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (the twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention.

337. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, i.e., the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Italy to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, i.e., the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

338. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Italy of the present concluding comments in order to make the people, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women, as well as the further steps that are required in this regard. The Committee requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

Turkey

339.The Committee considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Turkey (CEDAW/C/TUR/4-5 and Corr.1) at its 677th and 678th meetings, on 20 January 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.677 and 678).

Introduction by the State party

340.In introducing the report, the representative of Turkey referred to the State party’s withdrawal, in 1999, of all the substantive reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as an expression of the Government’s political will to adhere to its international obligations to achieve women’s rights. Work was under way towards withdrawal of its declaration to article 9, paragraph 1. Ratification of the Optional Protocol, in 2002, was also highlighted.

341.Drawing attention to the process of rapid transformation in the State party, the representative highlighted recent developments in the legal field. Among the most important was the amendment of article 10 of the Constitution in May 2004, making the State responsible not only for ensuring non-discrimination between women and men, but also for taking the necessary measures to provide equal rights and opportunities in practice for women in every field. The amendment of article 90 ensured the supremacy of international conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, over all national laws.

342.The new Civil Code of 2001 ensured women’s rights and equality between women and men in marriage and family relations. Non‑governmental organizations had played an important role in its enactment. The new Law on the Protection of the Family of 1998 addressed for the first time the question of domestic violence, and judges and prosecutors had been trained about its provisions. The Law on Municipalities required municipalities with a population of over 50,000 to provide services for victims of violence, including shelters for women and children.

343.The new Penal Code, scheduled to enter into force in April 2005, defined sexual crimes as crimes committed against the individual rather than against public decency. For the first time, the Code covered marital rape and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as trafficking in persons. In addition to the annulment, in 2000, of a provision allowing for leniency for perpetrators of honour crimes, the new Code now imposed life sentences for perpetrators, thus reinforcing the Government’s determination to prevent such crimes. The Labour Code had been amended in 2003, prohibiting discrimination also on the basis of gender and eliminating discriminatory practices against women, including owing to marital status or family responsibilities.

344.While important legislative progress had been achieved, traditional values and customs continued to have an impact on the practical implementation of the new laws. A Mentality Transformation Project aimed at supporting their implementation was a priority objective of the Government. Efforts to tackle violence against women included the establishment of the Platform to Prevent Violence and of a one-year campaign to end violence against women. Efforts to eliminate honour killings had intensified and were also reflected in the country’s main sponsorship in the General Assembly of a draft resolution on that issue.

345.The national machinery for the advancement of women had been strengthened with the entry into force, in November 2004, of the Organizational Law on the Directorate General for the Status and Problems of Women, and the establishment of a Consultative Council for the Status of Women, to ensure more effective policy formulation and coordination.

346.The Compulsory Basic Education Law of 1997 had made an important contribution to girls’ education by raising the number of female students, especially from rural areas, as had the national campaign Support to Schooling of Girls. Literacy courses and informal education programmes, and the review of education materials to eliminate gender discriminatory elements also contributed to those efforts. As women were lagging far behind men in employment and their labour force participation was decreasing, policies were being developed and various projects and training programmes implemented to increase women’s employment. Important progress had also been achieved in regard to women’s health, as reflected in a number of indicators. In order to enhance the role of the media in achieving gender equality, various projects had been initiated.

347.Women’s participation in decision-making, particularly in politics, was not yet at a satisfactory level. While there was a high proportion of women in the professions and in academia, 4.4 per cent of seats in Parliament were held by women and there was one woman minister in the Cabinet. Women’s representation in local government was also very low. However, women had recently started to show a significant interest in participating in politics. It was hoped that a leap forward would take place in the near future.

348.The representative noted that despite progress, regional disparities persisted, and they were taken into account in the planning and provision of services.

349.In conclusion, the representative reaffirmed the Government’s determination to achieve equality between women and men, and expressed confidence in the support and cooperation of the country’s academic and civil society institutions, as well as that of the Committee, in that endeavour.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

350.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined fourth and fifth periodic report, which complied with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports and was frank and informative.

351.The Committee commends the State party on its high-level delegation, headed by the Minister of State in charge of women and made up of representatives of different ministries with responsibility for the implementation of the Convention and academics. It expresses appreciation to the State party for the oral presentation, which elaborated on the most recent developments in the implementation of the Convention, for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the Committee’s pre-session working group and for further clarification to the questions orally posed by the Committee.

352.The Committee commends the State party for the withdrawal of the reservation to article 15, paragraphs 2 and 4, and article 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d), (f) and (g) of the Convention.

353.The Committee notes that the State party has begun to work on the withdrawal of its declaration on article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention following the removal of the provisions in the Citizenship Act that formed the basis for the declaration.

354.The Committee appreciates the State party’s collaboration with women’s non‑governmental organizations, interested public institutions and academics in the preparation of the report. It welcomes the State party’s recognition of the strong support given by civil society and academics to progress in achieving gender equality.

Positive aspects

355.The Committee commends the State party for amending article 10 of its Constitution, which now explicitly sets out the State’s responsibility to ensure women’s enjoyment of equality and establishes a firm basis for adopting temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women. The Committee also commends the State party on its amendment of article 90 of the Constitution, ensuring the primacy of international treaties regarding basic rights and freedoms, including the Convention, over domestic law.

356.The Committee notes with appreciation that the State party has undertaken significant law reform since the consideration of its combined second and third periodic report (CEDAW/C/TUR/2-3) in 1997, aimed at the promotion of gender equality and elimination of discrimination against women, and at achieving compliance with its obligations under the Convention, including in regard to combating domestic violence (the Law on the Protection of the Family 1998), women’s legal status in marriage (the Civil Code of 2001) and the criminalization of marital rape and sexual harassment in the workplace (the Penal Code of 2004).

357.The Committee commends the State party for its sponsorship of General Assembly resolution 59/165 of 20 December 2004, entitled “Working towards the elimination of crimes against women and girls committed in the name of honour”.

358.The Committee notes with appreciation that the State party has increased compulsory basic education from five to eight years with a focus on increasing the enrolment rate of girls.

359.The Committee notes with appreciation that the State party ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention in October 2002 and accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, relating to the Committee’s meeting time in December 1999.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

360. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls on the State party to focus on these areas in its implementation activities and to report on actions taken and results achieved, in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

361.While noting the constitutional and legislative provisions on equality between women and men, the Committee is concerned that the State party’s legislation does not contain a definition of discrimination against women in accordance with article 1 of the Convention.

362. The Committee recommends that a definition of discrimination against women in line with article 1 of the Convention be included in the Constitution or in appropriate laws. It also recommends the implementation of campaigns to raise awareness about the Convention and the meaning and scope of discrimination against women aimed at the general public and especially at parliamentarians, the judiciary and the legal profession.

363.The Committee is concerned that some provisions of the Penal and Civil Codes continue to discriminate against women and girls. In particular, the Committee is concerned that genital examinations of women, or virginity tests, may still be carried out under certain circumstances without the consent of the woman; and that the use of the term “custom killing” instead of “honour killing” in the Penal Code may result in less vigorous prosecution of, and less severe sentences for, the perpetrators of such crimes against women. It is also concerned that the penalization of consensual sexual relations among young people between 15 and 18 years of age may have a more severe impact on young women, especially in the light of the persistence of patriarchal attitudes. The Committee is further concerned that the amendment to the Civil Code regarding joint ownership of acquired property as the default legal property arrangement does not apply retroactively.

364. The Committee calls upon the State party to give priority to amending remaining discriminatory legal provisions without delay so as to bring its legislation into line with article 2 of the Convention. In particular, it urges the State party to ensure that the consent of the woman be made a prerequisite for genital examinations under all circumstances; that any crime committed in the name of custom or honour be classified as aggravated homicide and the severest penalties provided for it by the law; and that the penalization of consensual sexual relations among young people between 15 and 18 years of age be reconsidered. It also recommends that the State party consider the impact on women of the lack of retroactive applicability of the amendment to the Civil Code regarding joint ownership of acquired property, with a view to remedying the law’s disadvantageous consequences for women who were married prior to its entry into force.

365.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of violence against women, including domestic violence. It is concerned that women victims of violence are unaware of their rights and the protection mechanisms available to them under the law. The Committee is furthermore concerned that support services for women victims of violence, including shelters, are inadequate in number. It is also concerned that, under the recently enacted Law on Municipalities, the responsibility for establishing shelters has been delegated to municipalities without adequate mechanisms to monitor implementation and ensure financing.

366. The Committee calls upon the State party to intensify its efforts to prevent and combat violence against women, including domestic violence, which is a form of discrimination against women and a violation of their human rights. The Committee underlines the need to fully implement and carefully monitor the effectiveness of the Law on the Protection of the Family and of related policies in order to prevent violence against women, provide protection and support services to the victims, and punish and rehabilitate offenders. In this regard, the Committee draws attention to its general recommendation 19. The Committee further calls upon the State party to monitor implementation of the Law on Municipalities with a view to ensuring the availability of a sufficient number of shelters throughout the territory of the State party and their adequate financing, taking into account in this monitoring effort research results and practical experiences of non-governmental organizations in this field. The Committee recommends continuous training for public officials, especially law enforcement officials, the judiciary and health-care providers, so that they are fully sensitized to all forms of violence against women and can adequately respond to it. The Committee also invites the State party to undertake sustained awareness-raising measures through the media and public education programmes to reinforce the notion that such violence is socially and morally unacceptable, and constitutes discrimination against women.

367.The Committee is strongly concerned about the pervasiveness of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted traditional and cultural stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in society, which continue to cast women in a position of inferiority. It expresses its concern that these attitudes contribute to the perpetuation of violence against women, including in the form of “honour killings”, and negatively affect women’s enjoyment of their rights in many areas; they also impede the full implementation of the Convention, including in regard to education, employment, health and participation in decision-making. It is also concerned about the persistence of certain traditional and cultural practices that are discriminatory to women, such as early marriage, forced marriage and polygamy, notwithstanding the relevant provisions in the Civil Code.

368. The Committee calls upon the State party to accelerate its efforts to eliminate stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, in conformity with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention, including through awareness-raising and educational campaigns directed at both women and men, to foster a better understanding of and support for equality between women and men at all levels of society. The Committee calls on the State party to monitor carefully the impact of such measures. It recommends that the media be further encouraged to project a positive image of women and of the equal status and responsibilities of women and men in the private and public spheres. The Committee also calls upon the State party to introduce without delay additional measures, in collaboration with civil society organizations, women’s groups and community leaders, as well as teachers and the media, to eliminate traditional and cultural practices that discriminate against women in marriage and family relations, taking into account the Committee’s general recommendation 21, on equality in marriage and family relations.

369.The Committee is concerned that women are significantly underrepresented in all areas of political and public life and that progress towards achieving equality, particularly at decision-making levels, both national and local, has been regrettably slow. The Committee is also concerned about the underrepresentation of women in the higher echelons of the foreign service.

370. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained measures to increase the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of public life. It recommends that the State party introduce temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to increase the number of women in Parliament, in municipal bodies and at higher levels in the foreign service. It also recommends that the State party carry out awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of women’s participation in political and public life and access to decision-making positions, and evaluate the impact of such measures.

371.The Committee is concerned at the high rate of female illiteracy and the lower enrolment and completion rates of girls and women at all levels of education, and that these discrepancies are further aggravated by urban-rural, regional and ethnic differences. The Committee is further concerned that girls and women continue to predominate in traditionally female areas of education and are particularly underrepresented in technical and vocational schools. The Committee is concerned about the disadvantages that result from these educational choices for women’s professional and employment opportunities. It is also concerned that women and girls whose mother tongue is not Turkish may face multiple forms of discrimination in access to and achievement in education. The Committee is also concerned about the impact on girls and women of the ban on wearing headscarves in schools and universities. The Committee is further concerned that stereotypical attitudes continue to create disadvantages for girls in education.

372. The Committee recommends that the State party take proactive measures to decrease the high rate of female illiteracy and to strengthen girls’ and women’s access to all levels of education and teaching and to actively encourage diversification of educational and professional choices for women and men. The Committee recommends that such measures include the use of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25. The Committee calls on the State party to implement further targeted policies and programmes to overcome educational disadvantages faced by girls and women belonging to diverse ethnic groups and those whose mother tongue is not Turkish, particularly in rural areas, as well as to address regional disparities. The Committee requests the State party to monitor and assess the impact of the ban on wearing headscarves and to compile information on the number of women who have been excluded from schools and universities because of the ban. It also calls on the State party to undertake further awareness-raising on the importance of education for women’s equality and economic opportunities, and to overcome stereotypical attitudes.

373.The Committee is concerned about direct and indirect discrimination against women in the labour market, where women earn significantly less than men in both the public and private sectors. The Committee is concerned about women’s high level of unemployment, very low participation in the labour force, particularly in urban areas, and their concentration in agriculture as unpaid family workers and in unregistered work with low or no income or wages and lack of social security benefits. The Committee is further concerned that a barrier to women’s participation in the labour market is that too few childcare facilities exist.

374. The Committee calls on the State party to take measures to ensure full implementation of article 11 of the Convention. It recommends that the State party take measures to eliminate occupational segregation, in particular through education and training. It urges the State party to improve the availability of affordable childcare facilities for pre-school-age children to facilitate women’s entry and re-entry into the labour market.

375.The Committee notes with concern the persistence of high maternal and infant mortality rates in the State party.

376. The Committee recommends that the State party allocate adequate resources to improve the status of women’s health, in particular with regard to maternal and infant mortality, and make every effort to increase access to health-care facilities and medical assistance from trained personnel, particularly in rural areas and particularly for post-natal care.

377.The Committee notes the lack of information in the report on the situation of women asylum-seekers in the State party.

378. The Committee calls upon the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, a comprehensive picture of the situation of women asylum-seekers in Turkey.

379.The Committee notes the lack of information on the integration of a gender perspective in the State party’s economic planning.

380. The Committee requests the State party to provide information in its next periodic report on the integration of a gender perspective in its economic planning.

381. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next report information, sex-disaggregated statistics and data relating to women in the judiciary, trafficked women and girls, as well as Kurdish women and other groups of women subject to multiple forms of discrimination and their access to health, employment and education, as well as various forms of violence committed against them.

382. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in the next report, information on the actions taken to ensure the implementation of the constitutional amendment and new laws mentioned in paragraphs 353 and 354 above, as well as an assessment of their impact in enhancing the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and ensuring women’s access to justice and redress in cases of violations. It recommends that the State party strengthen education and training programmes, in particular for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel, on the legislative reforms aimed at eliminating discrimination against women. The Committee also recommends that awareness-raising campaigns targeted at women be undertaken so that they can avail themselves of redress mechanisms.

383. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention, due in 2007.

384. The Committee encourages the State party to ensure the wide participation of all ministries, public bodies and entities in the preparation of the next report. It further encourages the State party to involve the Parliament in a discussion of the report before its submission to the Committee.

385. Taking account of the gender dimensions of declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions, such as the special session of the General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (the twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (the twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report information on the implementation of aspects of those documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention.

386. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments, i.e., the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. The Committee commends the State party for having ratified the seven major international human rights instruments.

387. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Turkey of the present concluding comments in order to make the people, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality of women, as well as the further steps that are required in this regard. The Committee requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

Chapter VActivities carried out under the Optional Protocol to the Convention

388.Article 12 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women provides that the Committee shall include in its annual report under article 21 of the Convention a summary of its activities under the Optional Protocol.

A.Action taken by the Committee in respect of issues arising from article 2 of the Optional Protocol

389.The Committee took action on communication 2/2003 (see annex III to part one of the present report).

390.The following members of the Committee had participated in the examination of the admissibility of Communication No. 1/2003, Ms. B.-J v. Germany, during its thirty-first session: Ayse Feride Acar, Sjamsiah Achmad, Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani, Huguette Bokpe Gnacadja, Dorcas Coker-Appiah, Yolanda Ferrer Gómez, Cornelis Flinterman, Naela Gabr, Françoise Gaspard, Aida González Martínez, Salma Khan, Fatima Kwaku, Rosario Manalo, Göran Melander, Krisztina Morvai, Pramila Patten, Heisoo Shin, Dubravka Simonovic and Maria Regina Tavares da Silva.

B.Action taken by the Committee in respect of issues arising from article 8 of the Optional Protocol

391.In accordance with article 8, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol, if the Committee receives reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a State party of rights set forth in the Convention, the Committee shall invite that State party to cooperate in the examination of the information and, to this end, to submit observations with regard to the information concerned.

392.In accordance with rule 77 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the Secretary-General shall bring to the attention of the Committee information that is or appears to be submitted for the Committee’s consideration under article 8, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol.

393.The Committee continued its work under article 8 of the Optional Protocol during the period under review. In accordance with the provisions of rules 80 and 81 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, all documents and proceedings of the Committee relating to its functions under article 8 of the Optional Protocol are confidential and all the meetings concerning its proceedings under that article are closed.

394.Pursuant to rule 77 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the Secretary-General brought to the attention of the Committee information that had been submitted for the Committee’s consideration under article 8 of the Optional Protocol.

Summary of the activities of the Committee concerning the inquiry on Mexico, and follow-up

395.The Committee reiterated its decision, taken at its thirty-first session, to issue at a future date the substantive findings and recommendations emanating from its inquiry, in accordance with article 8 of the Optional Protocol, in regard to Mexico, together with the State party’s observations (see A/59/38, part II, chap. V.B). The Committee issued these findings and recommendations, together with the State party’s observations, on 27 January 2005 (CEDAW/C/2005/OP8/Mexico).

396.The Committee recalled its decision requesting the Government of Mexico to submit information, by 1 December 2004, about measures taken in response to the Committee’s recommendations submitted to the State party on 23 January 2004. It received preliminary information on 13 December 2004 and additional information on 17 January 2005. It decided to request the Government of Mexico to submit additional information on follow-up given to the Committee’s recommendations in a succinct report, of up to 10 pages, by 1 May 2005. The Committee further decided to invite the three NGOs that had submitted the information that led to the Committee’s decision to conduct an inquiry under article 8 of the Optional Protocol in regard to Mexico, Equality Now, Casa Amiga and the Mexican Committee for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, to provide their views in a succinct report to the Committee, by 1 May 2005, on the current situation concerning the killings and abductions of women in the Ciudad Juárez area of Mexico, and in particular their evaluation of the State party’s actions in response to the Committee’s findings and recommendations. The Committee decided to consider the follow-up response of the Government of Mexico, together with any information that might be received from the NGOs, at its thirty-third session, scheduled to take place from 5 to 22 July 2005.

C.Appointment of members of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol

397.The Committee appointed the following five members to serve on the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol for a term of two years, until 31 December 2006:

Magalys Arocha DominguezCornelis Flinterman Krisztina Morvai Pramila Patten Anamah Tan

Chapter VI Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee

398.The Committee considered agenda item 8, ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee, at its 666th and 683rd meetings, on 10 and 28 January 2005.

Action taken by the Committee under agenda item 8

Members of the pre-session working group for the thirty-third and thirty-fourth sessions

399.The Committee confirmed that the members of the pre-session working group for the thirty-third session would be:

Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani Salma Khan Glenda Simms Dubravka Šimonović Maria Regina Tavares da Silva

400.The Committee decided that the members of the pre-session working group for the thirty-fourth session and their alternates would be:

MembersShanthi DairiamFrançoise GaspardPramila PattenSilvia PimentelVictoria Popescu

AlternatesHanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling

(the remaining alternates remain to be determined)

Dates of the thirty-third session, the pre-session working group for the thirty-fourth session and the fifth and sixth sessions of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol to the Convention

401.In accordance with the draft calendar of conferences and meetings for 2005, the thirty-third session of the Committee will be held from 5 to 22 July 2005. The pre-session working group for the thirty-fourth session will be held from 25 to 29 July 2005. The fifth session of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol will be held from 31 January to 2 February 2005, and the sixth session from 29 June to 1 July 2005.

Dates of the thirty-fourth session, the pre-session working group for the thirty-fifth session and the seventh session of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol

402.In accordance with the draft calendar of conferences and meetings for 2006, the thirty-fourth session of the Committee will be held from 16 January to 3 February 2006. The pre-session working group for the thirty-fifth session will be held from 6 to 10 February 2006. The seventh session of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol will be held from 9 to 13 January 2006.

Reports to be considered at future sessions of the Committee

403.The Committee decided to consider the following reports at its thirty-third and thirty-fourth sessions:

(a) Thirty-third session

Initial reports

BeninDemocratic People’s Republic of KoreaGambia Lebanon

Periodic reports

Burkina FasoGuyanaIreland Israel

(b) Thirty-fourth session

Initial reports

CambodiaEritreaThe former Yugoslav Republic of MacedoniaTogo

Periodic reports

AustraliaMaliThailand Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

United Nations meetings to be attended by the Chairperson or members of the Committee in 2005

404.The Committee recommended that the Chairperson or an alternate attend the following meetings in 2005:

(a)The forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women;

(b)The sixty-first session of the Commission on Human Rights;

(c)The seventeenth meeting of persons chairing human rights treaty bodies;

(d)The fourth Inter-Committee Meeting, together with two other members of the Committee;

(e)The sixtieth session of the General Assembly (Third Committee).

Enhancing the Committee’s working methods under article 18 of the Convention

Focused concluding comments

405.In its efforts to adopt focused concluding comments on periodic reports that would highlight a limited number of priority areas of concern and recommendations, the Committee decided to include a new standard paragraph as the first paragraph in the section on “principal areas of concern and recommendations”. This paragraph may be followed by a paragraph in which the Committee will highlight areas of concern already identified in its previous concluding comments in regard to which the State party, in the Committee’s view, has taken insufficient action. These would be briefly reiterated and the State party would be invited to implement previously made recommendations of the Committee. The new paragraphs will read:

The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls on the State party to focus on these areas in its implementation activities and to report on actions taken and results achieved, in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

The Committee is concerned that the State party has taken inadequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to some concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments adopted in (Year) (Symbol). In particular, the Committee finds that its concerns about … (paragraph …) and … (paragraph …) have been insufficiently addressed.

The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to proceed without delay with their implementation.

Country task forces

406.The Committee used a country task force for the constructive dialogue with one reporting State (periodic report). It agreed to continue this effort and to establish country task forces for the consideration of two periodic reports at its thirty-third session. It agreed that for the time being, it would continue to use this approach on a case-by-case basis, in a flexible manner.

Consideration of implementation of the Convention in the absence of a report

407.The Committee reiterated its incremental strategy to encourage States parties to fulfil their reporting obligations. It also reiterated its decision to consider implementation of the Convention in the absence of a report only as a measure of last resort and in the presence of a delegation.

408.The Committee recalled its decision, taken at its thirty-first session, to notify two States parties, namely, Cape Verde and Saint Lucia, whose initial reports under article 18 of the Convention are more than 10 years overdue, of its intention to take up implementation of the Convention at the thirty-fifth session (July 2006). These two States parties have been invited to submit all their overdue reports as combined reports by June 2005. They have also been advised that, should their reports not be submitted by the designated time, the Committee intends to proceed with consideration of the implementation of the Convention in the absence of a report.

409.The Committee decided to review the status of long-overdue initial reports again at its thirty-third session, and requested the Secretariat to include relevant information in the pre-session documentation. Based on the information provided, the Committee will invite up to two States parties to submit their reports within a specified time period, for consideration by the Committee.

Follow-up to the recommendations of the third inter-committee meeting and the sixteenth meeting of chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies

410.The Committee continued its follow-up to the recommendations of the third inter-committee meeting (Geneva, 21 and 22 June 2004) and the sixteenth meeting of chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies (Geneva, 23-25 June 2004) and, in particular, the proposals on harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties and guidelines for an expanded core document and treaty-specific targeted reports (HRI/MC/2004/3). It considered a discussion paper prepared by three of its members, Victoria Popescu, Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling and Heisoo Shin. The Committee finalized its preliminary views that it will be submitting to the fourth inter-committee meeting.

Date of issuance of pre-session documentation

411.The Committee took note of the guidance by the General Assembly in regard to the issuance of pre-session documentation, the so-called 10-week and 6-week rules. In this regard, the Committee stressed that it would rather receive the most up-to-date information possible in reports prepared by the Secretary-General rather than receive these reports six weeks prior to the session. It therefore agreed to waive the 10-week rule for submission of certain documents, in particular those contained in documents CEDAW/C/YEAR/SESSION/2, 3 and 4 and addenda, as well as confidential documentation issued in regard to the Optional Protocol to the Convention. Such documentation should be available in all languages one week prior to the opening of the session.

Extension of the Committee’s meeting time

412.The Committee expressed its disappointment at the lack of action taken by the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session in regard to the Committee’s request to put in place short-term measures and a long-term solution that would allow the Committee to implement its responsibilities under the Convention and the Optional Protocol in an effective and timely manner. It reiterated the urgent need to find such a solution in line with its decision 31/I. The Committee requested the Secretariat to include in the Committee’s pre-session documentation detailed information on all possible options for extension of the Committee’s meeting time, including extension of the current sessions and the holding of additional annual sessions from 2006. The Committee decided to consider these options at its thirty-third session with a view to submitting a request to the General Assembly for action at its sixtieth session.

Twenty-fifth anniversary of the Committee

413.The year 2007 will mark 25 years since the Committee held its first session. The Committee held a preliminary discussion on the proposal to edit a collection of brief essays by former and current members on their experience related to their work on the Committee and the impact of the Convention. Members agreed to consider this proposal with a view to discussing it further and to making a decision at the thirty-third session.

Interaction with national human rights institutions

414.The Committee expressed its interest in establishing interaction with national human rights institutions and agreed to discuss the modalities for such interaction at the thirty-third session. Representatives of national human rights institutions wishing to present information to the Committee at its thirty-third session would be able to do so during the meeting between the Committee and representatives of NGOs.

Chapter VIIImplementation of article 21 of the Convention

415.The Committee considered agenda item 7, on the implementation of article 21 of the Convention, at its 666th and 683rd meetings, on 10 and 28 January 2005 and in closed meetings.

Action taken by the Committee under agenda item 7

General recommendation 26 on article 2 of the Convention

416.The Committee’s intersessional task force consisting of Ms. Dairiam,Mr. Flinterman, Ms. Gnacadja, Ms. Morvai, Ms. Pimentel and Ms. Šimonović as core members will continue to work on elements for a general recommendation on article 2. All experts were urged to send contributions to the core members well before 1 May 2005. The Committee agreed to discuss a first draft at its thirty-third session.

Work on general recommendations

417.The Committee reviewed its work programme for the preparation of general recommendations. It was agreed that while work on a general recommendation on article 2 had priority, experts who had volunteered to work on particular topics should continue to work on background papers.

418.The Committee reviewed and updated the list of proposed general recommendations and experts who had volunteered to work on them:

Article 2: Ms. Dairiam, Mr. Flinterman, Ms. Gnacadja, Ms. Morvai, Ms. Pimentel and Ms. Šimonović.

Migrant women: Ms. Arocha, Ms. Dairiam, Ms. Khan, Ms. Manalo and Ms. Shin.

Gender, race and ethnicity: Mr. Flinterman, Ms. Patten, Ms. Popescu, Ms. Simms, Ms. Šimonović and Ms. Tavares da Silva.

Reservations: Ms. Coker-Appiah and Ms. Schöpp-Schilling.

Role of non-governmental organizations, including in the process of reporting: Ms. Coker-Appiah and Ms. Schöpp-Schilling.

Article 6: Ms. Gaspard and Ms. Morvai.

The situation of women in special circumstances:

Women with disabilities:

Older women:

The girl child:

Article 3:

Refugee women.

Chapter VIIIProvisional agenda for the thirty-third session

419.The Committee considered the draft provisional agenda for its thirty-third session at its 683rd meeting (see CEDAW/C/SR.683). The Committee approved the following provisional agenda for the session:

1.Opening of the session.

2.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.

3.Report of the Chairperson on activities undertaken between the thirty-second and thirty-third sessions of the Committee.

4.Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

5.Implementation of article 21 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

6.Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee.

7.Activities of the Committee under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

8.Provisional agenda for the thirty-fourth session.

9.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its thirty-third session.

Chapter IXAdoption of the report

420.The Committee considered the draft report on its thirty-second session (CEDAW/C/2005/I/CRP.3 and Add.1-9) at its 683rd meeting (see CEDAW/C/SR.683) and adopted it, as orally revised, during the discussion.

Annex I

Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the occasion of the 10-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

1.The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women welcomes the comprehensive 10-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action undertaken by States Members of the United Nations during the forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held from 28 February to 11 March 2005. The Committee commends the efforts undertaken by Member States in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”. The Committee stresses the need to reaffirm these goals and commitments so as to sustain and enhance the gains made in the advancement of women and gender equality, and to address new and emerging challenges.

2.In 2004, the Committee commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. On the occasion of the Beijing review and appraisal, it wishes to draw the attention of the Member States to its statement issued in October 2004 to mark that anniversary (CEDAW/C/2005/I/4, annex III).

3.The Committee notes that 179 States are now parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, representing an increase of 35 ratifications in the 10 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women. While this represents much-welcome progress, the Committee regrets that the goal of universal ratification by 2000 set forth in the Platform for Action has not been achieved: 12 Member States continue to consider joining this most comprehensive treaty on the human rights of women. The Committee is especially pleased that the commitment of Member States to providing for a right to petition under the Convention was realized in 1999 when the General Assembly adopted and opened for ratification and accession the Optional Protocol to the Convention providing for the right to petition as well as an inquiry procedure. The Committee congratulates those 70 States parties to the Convention that have so far adhered to the instrument, thus providing women within their jurisdictions with this international means of redress for alleged violations of their rights protected under the Convention. The Committee has already issued views and findings under both procedures. The Committee remains most concerned about the significant number of reservations to the Convention, many of which are broad-based and must be considered to be incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention. The Committee congratulates all those States that have withdrawn or modified their reservations to the Convention since the Fourth World Conference on Women, as called for in the Platform for Action, and urges all those States that continue to maintain reservations to work towards their withdrawal.

4.The Committee recalls that the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action and the provisions of the Convention mutually reinforce each other. It notes that the Platform for Action gave unprecedented attention to the human rights of women and to the Convention as the primary instrument for the promotion of equality between women and men and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The entire Platform for Action will have achieved an overall human rights approach when each critical area of concern is implemented within the Convention’s framework of substantive equality that ensures de jure and de facto equality. The Platform for Action highlights women’s rights in many different contexts and it outlines, under its critical areas of concern, concrete and detailed actions including legislation, policy and programme measures, to be taken by Governments and other actors for the promotion of gender equality and the elimination of discrimination against women.

5.One of the Platform for Action’s critical areas of concern is specifically devoted to the realization of the human rights of women, including through the full implementation of the Convention. The Committee notes that, in addition, the Platform for Action explicitly covers violence against women, an issue that the Committee addressed comprehensively in its general recommendation 19 (1992). The Convention prohibits discrimination against women in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field and obligates States parties to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development and advancement of women. During the constructive dialogue with States parties when presenting their national reports, the Committee encourages the States parties to include a gender and human rights perspective in their development cooperation to support the realization of the principle of equality between women and men in all parts of the world. The Committee also notes the importance of allocating resources according to the internationally agreed target of 0.7 per cent of the gross national product of developed countries for overall official development assistance, as urged in the Platform for Action.

6.In accordance with the recommendation of the Platform for Action, the Committee now regularly takes the Platform for Action into account when considering reports submitted by States parties to the Convention. Following the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Committee revised its guidelines for preparation of reports by States parties, inviting them to take into account the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action. In doing so, the Committee noted that those areas of concern are compatible with the articles of the Convention and are therefore within its mandate. The Committee further revised those guidelines in 2002, emphasizing that initial and subsequent periodic reports should contain information on the implementation of the actions recommended in the Platform for Action as well as in the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. States parties generally refer to their activities in relation to the Platform for Action either in their reports or in their presentations to and constructive dialogue with the Committee. The Committee, in all its concluding comments, consistently requests States parties to widely disseminate the Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the Assembly, together with the Convention, the Optional Protocol thereto and the Committee’s general recommendations.

7.The Committee draws attention to the significant synergies in substantive content between the Convention and the Beijing Platform for Action. For instance, the Convention deals with women’s right to equality in the field of education in its article 9. In the Platform for Action, it is noted that education is a human right and that the implementation of the actions to be taken by Governments and other stakeholders as set out in the Platform for Action directly contributes to a State party’s fulfilment of its obligations under the Convention. Likewise, article 7 of the Convention, on women’s right to equality in political and public life, is complemented by the Platform for Action’s critical area of concern on inequality between women and men in the sharing of power and decision-making. Similar linkages exist between other provisions of the Convention and the critical areas of concern in the Platform for Action. The Platform for Action gives detailed further guidance on the types of actions Member States should implement and which, in the Committee’s view, also enhance compliance with the Convention. When States parties put in place national action plans or strategies with time-bound targets and benchmarks for monitoring, as called for in the Platform for Action, they also contribute to the practical realization of the principle of equality of women and men in respect of the enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, for which States parties are responsible in accordance with article 2 (a) of the Convention.

8.The Convention and the Platform for Action comprise, respectively, legally binding obligations and policy commitments towards the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the realization of equality of women and men. National machineries for the advancement of women as the central units within government for the promotion of gender equality should be entrusted with the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of both the Convention and the Platform for Action so as to ensure compliance with the international legal obligations and policy commitments of States.

9.The Committee calls upon all States parties and States Members of the United Nations, civil society and women’s and human rights organizations to further intensify their efforts to implement fully both the Convention, as a legally binding human rights instrument, and the Platform for Action, as a comprehensive agenda for gender equality, and to use both in their advocacy in a complementary and mutually reinforcing manner.

Annex II

Statement by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in regard to the tsunami disaster that occurred in South-East Asia on 26 December 2004

1.The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women shares the expressions of support and solidarity that have been offered by so many people around the world to all those affected by the devastating tsunami in South-East Asia that occurred on 26 December 2004.

2.The unprecedented scale of the tsunami disaster impacts on all survivors, women and men, having caused loss of life, injuries, separation from and loss of loved ones, extreme trauma, loss of security, including basic necessities such as shelter, food and water and sanitation, and livelihoods. In the wake of the tsunami, the gender-specific needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls must be identified and addressed in all responses to the humanitarian and recovery needs. There are gender perspectives to be taken into account in relation to impacts on both a long and a short-term basis, including in relation to health, security and livelihoods.

3.Proactive steps must be taken to ensure that women and girls living in the affected communities as well as local women’s groups and women community leaders and government officials are full, equal and effective participants in all relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, including in the distribution of assistance of all kinds.

4.Particular attention must be paid to identifying and responding to specific vulnerabilities of women and girls in situations of disaster, in particular with regard to gender-based violence, sexual abuse and trafficking. As the protection of the safety and dignity of survivors is among the priorities of relief work, specific attention must be paid to the prevention of gender-based violence and abuse of women and girls. All those who abuse women and girls in this situation of particular vulnerability must be brought to justice and severely punished.

5.The Committee calls upon all those who provide assistance and relief and contribute to the reconstruction of the devastated communities to respond fully to the gender-specific needs of women and girls. The Committee urges that the ongoing efforts be used as a window of opportunity to ensure that the promotion of gender equality is a central pillar in the reconstruction and development of the affected communities and that a gender perspective is integrated in all humanitarian efforts. It also suggests that an appropriate intergovernmental body of the United Nations consider preparing a comprehensive action-oriented resolution on the gender perspectives of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, following the example of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security.

Annex III

Views of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women under article 7, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Communication No.: 2/2003, Ms. A. T. v. Hungarya(Views adopted on 26 January 2005, thirty-second session)

Submitted by:Ms. A. T.

Alleged victim:The author

State party:Hungary

Date of communication:10 October 2003 (initial submission)

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, established under article 17 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

Meeting on 26 January 2005,

Having concluded its consideration of communication No. 2/2003, submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women by Ms. A. T. under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

Having taken into account all written information made available to it by the author of the communication and the State party,

Adopts the following:

Views under article 7, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol

1.1The author of the communication dated 10 October 2003, with supplementary information dated 2 January 2004, is Ms. A. T., a Hungarian national born on10 October 1968. She claims to be a victim of a violation by Hungary of articles2 (a), (b) and (e), 5 (a) and 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The author is representing herself. The Convention and its Optional Protocol entered into force in the State party on 3 September 1981 and 22 March 2001, respectively.

1.2The author urgently requested effective interim measures of protection in accordance with article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol, at the same time that she submitted her communication, because she feared for her life.

The facts as presented

2.1The author states that for the past four years she has been subjected to regular severe domestic violence and serious threats by her common law husband, L. F., father of her two children, one of whom is severely brain-damaged. Although L. F. allegedly possesses a firearm and has threatened to kill the author and rape the children, the author has not gone to a shelter, reportedly because no shelter in the country is equipped to take in a fully disabled child together with his mother and sister. The author also states that there are currently no protection orders or restraining orders available under Hungarian law.

2.2In March 1999, L. F. moved out of the family apartment. His subsequent visits allegedly typically included battering and/or loud shouting, aggravated by his being in a drunken state. In March 2000, L. F. reportedly moved in with a new female partner and left the family home, taking most of the furniture and household items with him. The author claims that he did not pay child support for three years, which forced her to claim the support by going to the court and to the police, and that he has used this form of financial abuse as a violent tactic in addition to continuing to threaten her physically. Hoping to protect herself and the children, the author states that she changed the lock on the door of the family’s apartment on 11 March 2000. On 14 and 26 March 2000, L. F. filled the lock with glue and on 28 March 2000, he kicked in a part of the door when the author refused to allow him to enter the apartment. The author further states that, on 27 July 2001, L. F. broke into the apartment using violence.

2.3L. F. is said to have battered the author severely on several occasions, beginning in March 1998. Since then, 10 medical certificates have been issued in connection with separate incidents of severe physical violence, even after L. F. left the family residence, which, the author submits, constitute a continuum of violence. The most recent incident took place on 27 July 2001 when L. F. broke into the apartment and subjected the author to a severe beating, which necessitated her hospitalization.

2.4The author states that there have been civil proceedings regarding L. F.’s access to the family’s residence, a 2 and a half room apartment (of 54 by 56 square metres) jointly owned by L. F. and the author. Decisions by the court of the first instance, the Pest Central District Court (Pesti Központi Kerületi Bíróság), were rendered on 9 March 2001 and 13 September 2002 (supplementary decision). On 4 September 2003, the Budapest Regional Court (Főrvărosi Bíróság) issued a final decision authorizing L. F. to return and use the apartment. The judges reportedly based their decision on the following grounds: (a) lack of substantiation of the claim that L. F. regularly battered the author; and (b) that L. F.’s right to the property, including possession, could not be restricted. Since that date, and on the basis of the earlier attacks and verbal threats by her former partner, the author claims that her physical integrity, physical and mental health and life have been at serious risk and that she lives in constant fear. The author reportedly submitted to the Supreme Court a petition for review of the 4 September 2003 decision, which was pending at the time of her submission of supplementary information to the Committee on 2 January 2004.

2.5The author states that she also initiated civil proceedings regarding division of the property, which have been suspended. She claims that L. F. refused her offer to be compensated for half of the value of the apartment and turn over ownership to her. In these proceedings the author reportedly submitted a motion for injunctive relief (for her exclusive right to use the apartment), which was rejected on 25 July 2000.

2.6The author states that there have been two ongoing criminal procedures against L. F., one that began in 1999 at the Pest Central District Court (Pesti Központi Kerületi Bíróság) concerning two incidents of battery and assault causing her bodily harm and the second that began in July 2001 concerning an incident of battery and assault that resulted in her being hospitalized for a week with a serious kidney injury. In her submission of 2 January 2004, the author states that there would be a trial on 9 January 2004. Reportedly, the latter procedure was initiated by the hospital ex officio. The author further states that L. F. has not been detained at any time in this connection and that no action has been taken by the Hungarian authorities to protect the author from him. The author claims that, as a victim, she has not been privy to the court documents and, that, therefore, she cannot submit them to the Committee.

2.7The author also submits that she has requested assistance in writing, in person and by phone, from the local child protection authorities, but that her requests have been to no avail since the authorities allegedly feel unable to do anything in such situations.

The Claim

3.1The author alleges that she is a victim of violations by Hungary of articles 2 (a), (b) and (e), 5 (a) and 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women for its failure to provide effective protection from her former common law husband. She claims that the State party passively neglected its “positive” obligations under the Convention and supported the continuation of a situation of domestic violence against her.

3.2She claims that the irrationally lengthy criminal procedures against L. F., the lack of protection orders or restraining orders under current Hungarian law and the fact that L. F. has not spent any time in custody constitute violations of her rights under the Convention as well as violations of general recommendation 19 of the Committee. She maintains that these criminal procedures can hardly be considered effective and/or immediate protection.

3.3The author is seeking justice for herself and her children, including fair compensation, for suffering and for the violation of the letter and spirit of the Convention by the State party.

3.4The author is also seeking the Committee’s intervention into the intolerable situation, which affects many women from all segments of Hungarian society. In particular, she calls for the (a) introduction of effective and immediate protection for victims of domestic violence into the legal system, (b) provision of training programmes on gender-sensitivity, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol, including for judges, prosecutors, police and practising lawyers, and (c) provision of free legal aid to victims of gender-based violence, including domestic violence.

3.5As to the admissibility of the communication, the author maintains that she has exhausted all available domestic remedies. She refers, however, to a pending petition for review that she submitted to the Supreme Court in respect of the decision of 4 September 2003. The author describes this remedy as an extraordinary remedy and one which is only available in cases of a violation of the law by lower courts. Such cases reportedly take some six months to be resolved. The author believes that it is very unlikely that the Supreme Court will find a violation of the law because Hungarian courts allegedly do not consider the Convention to be a law that is to be applied by them. She submits that this should not mean that she has failed to exhaust domestic remedies for the purposes of the Optional Protocol.

3.6The author contends that, although most of the incidents complained of took place prior to March 2001 when the Optional Protocol entered into force in Hungary, they constitute elements of a clear continuum of regular domestic violence and that her life continues to be in danger. She alleges that one serious violent act took place in July 2001, that is after the Optional Protocol came into force in the country. She also claims that Hungary has been bound by the Convention since becoming party to it in 1982. The author further argues that Hungary has in effect assisted in the continuation of violence through lengthy proceedings, the failure to take protective measures, including timely conviction of the perpetrator and the issuance of a restraining order, and the court decision of 4 September 2003.

Request for interim measures of protection in accordance with article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol

4.1On 10 October 2003, with her initial submission, the author also urgently requested effective interim measures, as may be necessary, in accordance with article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol in order to avoid possible irreparable damage to her person, that is to save her life, which she feels is threatened by her violent former partner.

4.2On 20 October 2003 (with a corrigendum on 17 November 2003), a note verbale was sent to the State party for its urgent consideration, requesting the State party to provide immediate, appropriate and concrete preventive interim measures of protection to the author, as may be necessary, in order to avoid irreparable damage to her person. The State party was informed that, as laid down in article 5, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol, this request did not imply a determination on admissibility or on the merits of the communication. The Committee invited the State party to provide information no later than 20 December 2003 of the type of measures it had taken to give effect to the Committee’s request under article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol.

4.3In her supplementary submission of 2 January 2004, the author states that, apart from being interrogated by the local police at the police station in her vicinity on the day before Christmas, she had not heard from any authority concerning the ways and means through which they would provide her with immediate and effective protection in accordance with the Committee’s request.

4.4By submission of 20 April 2004, the State party informed the Committee that the Governmental Office for Equal Opportunities (hereinafter “the Office”) established contact with the author in January 2004 in order to inquire about her situation. It turned out that at that time, the author had had no legal representative in the proceedings, and thus the Office retained a lawyer with professional experience and practice in cases of domestic violence for her.

4.5The State party further informed the Committee that on 26 January 2004, the Office set up contact with the competent family and child-care service at the Ferencváros local government in order to halt the domestic violations against the author and her children. The State party stated that urgent measures were enforced for securing the safety and the personal development of the children.

4.6On 9 February 2004, the Office sent a letter to the notary of Ferencváros local government containing a detailed description of the author’s and her children’s situation. The Office requested the notary to convene a so-called “case-conference” with the aim of determining the further necessary measures for promoting effective protection of the author and her children. As at 20 April 2004, the Office had not had a reply to that letter.

4.7On 13 July 2004, on behalf of the Working Group on Communications, a note verbale with a follow-up to the Committee’s request of 20 October and 17 November 2003 was sent to the State party, conveying the Working Group’s regret that the State party had furnished little information on the interim measures taken to avoid irreparable damage to the author. The Working Group requested that A. T. be immediately offered a safe place for her and her children to live and that the State party ensure that the author receive adequate financial assistance, if needed. The State party was invited to inform the Working Group as soon as possible of any concrete action taken in response to the request.

4.8By its note of 27 August 2004, the State party repeated that it had established contact with the author, retained a lawyer for her in the civil proceedings and established contact with the competent notary and child welfare services.

State party’s submission on admissibility and merits

5.1By its submission of 20 April 2004, the State party gave an explanation of the civil proceedings to which reference is made by the author, stating that in May 2000 L. F. instituted trespass proceedings against the author because she had changed the door-lock of their common flat and prevented him from gaining access to his possessions. The notary of Ferencváros local government ordered the author to cease interfering with L. F.’s property rights. She applied to the Pest Central District Court (Pesti Központi Kerületi Bíróság) in order to set aside this decision and to establish her entitlement to use the flat. The District Court dismissed the author’s claims on grounds that L. F. was entitled to the use of his property and that the author could have been expected to try to settle the dispute by lawful means, instead of the arbitrary conduct she had resorted to. In a supplementary judgement of 13 September 2002, the District Court established that the author was entitled to use the flat, but ruled that it was not competent to establish whether she was entitled to the exclusive use of the flat since she had not submitted a request to that effect. The judgement of 4 September 2003 of the Budapest Regional Court (Főrvărosi Bíróság) confirmed the District Court’s decision. The author submitted a petition for review by the Supreme Court on 8 December 2003 and these proceedings were still pending as at 20 April 2004, the date of the submission of the State party’s observations.

5.2On 2 May 2000, the author brought an action against L. F. before the Pest Central District Court requesting separation of their common property. On 25 July 2000, the District Court dismissed the author’s request for interim measures on the use and possession of the common flat on grounds that the other set of proceedings concerning that issue (the “trespass” proceedings) were pending and that it was not competent to decide the question in the proceedings concerning the division of the property. The State party contends that the progress of the proceedings was considerably hindered by the author’s lack of cooperation with her then counsel and failure to submit the requested documents. Furthermore, it turned out that the couple’s ownership of the flat had not been registered and that civil proceedings had been suspended in this connection.

5.3The State party states that several sets of criminal proceedings were instituted against L. F. on charges of assault and battery. On 3 October 2001 the Pest Central District Court convicted L. F. on one count of assault committed on 22 April 1999 and sentenced him to a fine of 60,000 Hungarian forints (HUF). The District Court acquitted L. F. on another count of assault allegedly committed on 19 January 2000 for lack of sufficient evidence. The public prosecutor’s office appealed but the case file was lost on its way to the Budapest Regional Court. On 29 April 2003, the Budapest Regional Court ordered a new trial. The proceedings were resumed before the Pest Central District Court and were joined to another set of criminal proceedings pending against L. F. before the same court.

5.4A proceeding was brought against L. F. on charges of an assault allegedly committed on 27 July 2001 causing bruises to the author’s kidneys. Though the investigations were twice discontinued by the police (on 6 December 2001 and 4 December 2002) they were resumed by order of the public prosecutor’s office. Witnesses and experts were heard and a bill of indictment was brought against L. F. on 27 August 2003 before the Pest Central District Court.

5.5The State party states that the two sets of criminal proceedings (that is the criminal proceedings regarding the separate incidents of assault allegedly committed on 19 January 2000 and 21 July 2001) have been joined. The Pest Central District Court has held hearings on 5 November 2003, 9 January and 13 February 2004. The next hearing is scheduled for 21 April 2004.

5.6The State party maintains that although the author did not make effective use of the domestic remedies available to her, and although some domestic proceedings are still pending, the State party does not wish to raise any preliminary objections as to the admissibility of the communication. At the same time, the State party admits that these remedies were not capable of providing immediate protection to the author from ill-treatment by her former partner.

5.7Having realized that the system of remedies against domestic violence is incomplete in Hungarian law and that the effectiveness of the existing procedures is not sufficient, the State party states that it has instituted a comprehensive action programme against domestic violence in 2003. On 16 April 2003, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a resolution on the national strategy for the prevention and effective treatment of violence within the family, setting forth a number of legislative and other actions to be taken in the field by the State party. These actions include: introducing a restraining order into legislation; ensuring that proceedings before the Courts or other authorities in domestic violence cases are given priority; reinforcing existing witness protection rules and introducing new rules aimed at ensuring adequate legal protection for the personal security of victims of violence within the family; elaborating clear protocols for the police, childcare organs and social and medical institutions; extending and modernizing the network of shelters and setting up victim protection crisis centres; providing free legal aid in certain circumstances; working out a complex nationwide action programme to eliminate violence within the family that applies sanctions and protective measures; training of professionals; ensuring data collection on violence within the family; requesting the judiciary to organize training for judges and to find a way to ensure that cases relating to violence within the family are given priority; and launching a nationwide campaign to address indifference to violence within the family and the perception of domestic violence as a private matter and to raise awareness of State, municipal and social organs and journalists. In a resolution of 16 April 2003 by the Hungarian Parliament, a request with due regard to the separation of powers has been also put forward to the National Council of the Judiciary to organize training for judges and to find a way to ensure that cases relating to violence within the family are given priority. In the resolution, reference is made, inter alia, to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the concluding comments of the Committee on the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Hungary adopted at its exceptional session in August 2002 and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

5.8In a second resolution, the Parliament has also stated that prevention of violence within the family is a high priority in the national strategy of crime prevention and describes the tasks of various actors of the State and of the society. These include: prompt and effective intervention by the police and other investigating authorities; medical treatment of pathologically aggressive persons and application of protective measures for those who live in their environment; operation of 24-hour “SOS” lines; organization of rehabilitation programmes; organization of sport and leisure time activities for youth and children of violence-prone families; integration of non-violent conflict resolution techniques and family-life education into the public educational system; establishment and operation of crisis intervention houses as well as mother and child care centres and support for the accreditation of civil organizations by municipalities; and launching of a media campaign against violence within the family.

5.9The State party further states that it has implemented various measures to eliminate domestic violence. These measures include registration of criminal proceedings (Robotzsaru) in a manner that will facilitate the identification of trends in offences related to violence within the family, as well as the collection of data, the expanded operation of family protection services by 1 July 2005, including units for ill-treated women without children in Budapest, which is to be followed by the establishment of seven regional centres. The first shelter is planned to be set up in 2004. The Government has prepared a draft law, which will enter into force on 1 July 2005, that provides for a new protective remedy for victims of domestic violence, namely the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the police and a restraining order by the Courts, accompanied by fines if intentionally disregarded, and has decided to improve the support services available to such victims.

5.10Additionally, the State party states that special emphasis has been put on the handling of cases of domestic violence by the police. The State party observes that the efforts made in this field have already brought about significant results which were summed up by the National Headquarters of the Police in a press communication in December 2003. Non-governmental organizations have also been involved in the elaboration of the governmental policy to combat domestic violence.

The author’s comments on the State party’s observations on admissibility and merits

6.1By her submission of 23 June 2004, the author states that, in spite of promises, the only step that has been taken under the Decree/Decision of Parliament on the Prevention of, and Response to Domestic Violence is the entry into force of the new protocol of the police, who now respond to domestic violence cases. She states that the new protocol is still not in line with the Convention and that batterers are not taken into custody, as this would be considered a violation of their human rights. Instead, according to the media, the police mostly mediate on the spot.

6.2The author further states that the parliamentary debate on the draft law on restraining orders has been postponed until the autumn. Resistance to change is said to be strong and decision-makers allegedly still do not fully understand why they should interfere in what they consider to be the private affairs of families. The author suggests that a timely decision in her case may help decision-makers understand that the effective prevention of, and response to domestic violence are not only demands of victims and “radical” non-governmental organizations but also of the international human rights community.

6.3The author reports that her situation has not changed and she still lives in constant fear as regards her former partner. From time to time L. F. has harassed her and threatened to move back into the apartment.

6.4The author submits that in the minutes of the official case conference of 9 May 2004 of the local child protection authority regarding her case, it is stated that it cannot put an end to her threatening situation using official measures. It recommends that she continue to ask for help from the police, medical documentation of injuries and help from her extended family as well as to keep the local authority informed. The child protection authority also reportedly states that it would summon L. F. and give him a warning in the event that the battering continues.

6.5As at 23 June 2004, according to the author, the criminal proceedings against L. F. were still ongoing. A hearing scheduled for 21 April was postponed to 7 May and, as the judge was reportedly too busy to hear the case, the criminal proceedings were again postponed until 25 June 2004. The author believes that, whatever the outcome, the criminal proceedings have been so lengthy and her safety so severely neglected that she has not received the timely and effective protection and the remedy to which she in entitled under the Convention and general recommendation 19 of the Committee.

6.6The author refers to the civil proceedings, in particular to the petition for review by the Supreme Court, which she considers to be an extraordinary remedy but submitted nonetheless. She states that, in response to the Committee’s intervention, the State party covered the legal costs of supplementing her petition with additional arguments.

6.7On 23 March 2004, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition, arguing, inter alia, that the jurisprudence is established with regard to the legal issue raised in the petition.

6.8The author refutes the State party’s argument that she did not submit a request for the exclusive use of the apartment. The court of the second instance, the Budapest Regional Court, ordered the court of the first instance, the Pest Central District Court, to retry the case, namely because it had failed to decide on the merits of the request. She believes that it is clear from the context and from her court documents, including the decisions, that she had requested sole possession of the apartment to avoid a continuation of the violence. However, she states that under the established law and jurisprudence in the State party, battered individuals have no right to the exclusive use of the jointly owned/leased apartments on grounds of domestic violence.

6.9The author requests that the Committee declare her communication admissible without delay and decide on the merits that the rights under the Convention have been violated by the State party. She requests that the Committee recommend to the State party to urgently introduce effective laws and measures towards the prevention of and effective response to domestic violence, both in her specific case and in general. The author furthermore seeks compensation for long years of suffering that have been directly related to the severe and serious violations of the Convention. The author believes that the most effective way would be to provide her with a safe home, where she could live in safety and peace with her children, without constant fear of her batterer’s “lawful” return and/or substantial financial compensation.

6.10By her submission of 30 June 2004, the author informs the Committee that the criminal proceedings against L. F have been postponed until 1 October 2004 in order to hear the testimony of a policeman because the judge thinks that there is a slight discrepancy between two police reports.

6.11By her submission of 19 October 2004, the author informs the Committee that the Pest Central District Court convicted L. F. of two counts of causing grievous bodily harm to her and fined him for the equivalent of approximately $365 United States dollars.

Supplementary observations of the State party

7.1By note dated 27 August 2004, the State party argues that, although all tasks that the Decree/Decision of Parliament on the Prevention of and Response to Domestic Violence prescribe have not yet been completely implemented, some positive steps, including new norms in the field of crime prevention and Act LXXX (2003) on the conditions under which legal assistance is given to those in need, have been taken. These documents are said to provide an opportunity to establish a national network of comprehensive legal and social support for future victims of domestic violence.

7.2The State party confirms that consideration of the Draft Act on Restraining Orders that applies to cases of violence within the family has been postponed to the autumn session of Parliament.

7.3The State party admits that the experience of the Office and the information it has shows that domestic violence cases as such do not enjoy high priority in court proceedings.

7.4Based on the experience of the Office both in the present case and in general, it is conceded that the legal and institutional system in Hungary is not ready yet to ensure the internationally expected, coordinated, comprehensive and effective protection and support for the victims of domestic violence.

Issues and proceedings before the Committee

Consideration of admissibility

8.1In accordance with rule 64 of its rules of procedure, the Committee shall decide whether the communication is admissible or inadmissible under the Optional Protocol to the Convention. Pursuant to rule 72, paragraph 4, of its rules of procedure, it shall do so before considering the merits of the communication.

8.2The Committee has ascertained that the matter has not already been or is being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement.

8.3With regard to article 4, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol, the Committee observes that the State party does not wish to raise any preliminary objections as to the admissibility of the communication and furthermore concedes that the currently existing remedies in Hungary have not been capable of providing immediate protection to the author from ill-treatment from L. F. The Committee agrees with this assessment and considers that it is not precluded by article 4, paragraph 1, from considering the communication.

8.4The Committee, nevertheless, wishes to make some observations as to the State party’s comment in its submission of 20 April 2004 that some domestic proceedings are still pending. In the civil matter of L. F.’s access to the family’s apartment, according to the author’s submission of 23 June 2004, the petition for review by the Supreme Court was dismissed on 23 March 2004. The civil matter on the distribution of the common property, on the other hand, has been suspended over the issue of registration for an undisclosed period of time. The Committee considers, however, that the eventual outcome of this proceeding is not likely to bring effective relief vis-à-vis the current life-threatening violation of the Convention of which the author has complained. In addition, the Committee notes that two sets of criminal proceedings against L. F. on charges of assault and battery allegedly committed on 19 January 2000 and 21 July 2001 were joined and, according to the author, were decided on 1 October 2004 by convicting L. F. and imposing a fine equivalent to approximately $365. The Committee has not been informed as to whether the conviction and/or sentence may or will be appealed. Nonetheless, the Committee is of the view that such a delay of over three years from the dates of the incidents in question would amount to an unreasonably prolonged delay within the meaning of article 4, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol, particularly considering that the author has been at risk of irreparable harm and threats to her life during that period. Additionally, the Committee takes account of the fact that she had no possibility of obtaining temporary protection while criminal proceedings were in progress and that the defendant had at no time been detained.

8.5As to the facts that are the subject of the communication, the Committee observes that the author points out that most of the incidents complained of took place prior to March 2001 when the Optional Protocol entered into force in Hungary. She argues, however, that the 10 incidents of severe physical violence that are medically documented and which are part of an allegedly larger number constitute elements of a clear continuum of regular domestic violence and that her life was still in danger, as documented by the battering which took place 27 July 2001, that is after the Optional Protocol came into force in Hungary. The Committee is persuaded that it is competent ratione temporis to consider the communication in its entirety, because the facts that are the subject of the communication cover the alleged lack of protection/alleged culpable inaction on the part of the State party for the series of severe incidents of battering and threats of further violence that has uninterruptedly characterized the period beginning in 1998 to the present.

8.6The Committee has no reason to find the communication inadmissible on any other grounds and thus finds the communication admissible.

Consideration of the merits

9.1The Committee has considered the present communication in the light of all the information made available to it by the author and by the State party, as provided in article 7, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol.

9.2The Committee recalls its general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women, which states that “… [T]he definition of discrimination includes gender-based violence” and that “[G]ender-based violence may breach specific provisions of the Convention, regardless of whether those provisions expressly mention violence”. Furthermore, the general recommendation addresses the question of whether States parties can be held accountable for the conduct of non-State actors in stating that “… discrimination under the Convention is not restricted to action by or on behalf of Governments …” and “[U]nder general international law and specific human rights covenants, States may also be responsible for private acts if they fail to act with due diligence to prevent violations of rights or to investigate and punish acts of violence, and for providing compensation”. Against this backdrop, the immediate issue facing the Committee is whether the author of the communication is the victim of a violation of articles 2 (a), (b) and (e), 5 (a) and 16 of the Convention because, as she alleges, for the past four years the State party has failed in its duty to provide her with effective protection from the serious risk to her physical integrity, physical and mental health and her life from her former common law husband.

9.3With regard to article 2 (a), (b), and (e), the Committee notes that the State party has admitted that the remedies pursued by the author were not capable of providing immediate protection to her against ill-treatment by her former partner and, furthermore, that legal and institutional arrangements in the State party are not yet ready to ensure the internationally expected, coordinated, comprehensive and effective protection and support for the victims of domestic violence. While appreciating the State party’s efforts at instituting a comprehensive action programme against domestic violence and the legal and other measures envisioned, the Committee believes that these have yet to benefit the author and address her persistent situation of insecurity. The Committee further notes the State party’s general assessment that domestic violence cases as such do not enjoy high priority in court proceedings. The Committee is of the opinion that the description provided of the proceedings resorted to in the present case, both the civil and criminal proceedings, coincides with this general assessment. Women’s human rights to life and to physical and mental integrity cannot be superseded by other rights, including the right to property and the right to privacy. The Committee also takes note that the State party does not offer information as to the existence of alternative avenues that the author might have pursued that would have provided sufficient protection or security from the danger of continued violence. In this connection, the Committee recalls its concluding comments from August 2002 on the State party’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report, which state “… [T]he Committee is concerned about the prevalence of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence. It is particularly concerned that no specific legislation has been enacted to combat domestic violence and sexual harassment and that no protection or exclusion orders or shelters exist for the immediate protection of women victims of domestic violence”. Bearing this in mind, the Committee concludes that the obligations of the State party set out in article 2 (a), (b) and (e) of the Convention extend to the prevention of and protection from violence against women, which obligations in the present case, remain unfulfilled and constitute a violation of the author’s human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly her right to security of person.

9.4The Committee addressed articles 5 and 16 together in its general recommendation No. 19 in dealing with family violence. In its general recommendation No. 21, the Committee stressed that “the provisions of general recommendation 19 ... concerning violence against women have great significance for women’s abilities to enjoy rights and freedoms on an equal basis with men”. It has stated on many occasions that traditional attitudes by which women are regarded as subordinate to men contribute to violence against them. The Committee recognized those very attitudes when it considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Hungary in 2002. At that time it was concerned about the “persistence of entrenched traditional stereotypes regarding the role and responsibilities of women and men in the family …”. In respect of the case now before the Committee, the facts of the communication reveal aspects of the relationships between the sexes and attitudes towards women that the Committee recognized vis-à-vis the country as a whole. For four years and continuing to the present day, the author has felt threatened by her former common law husband, the father of her two children. The author has been battered by this same man, her former common law husband. She has been unsuccessful, either through civil or criminal proceedings, to temporarily or permanently bar L. F. from the apartment where she and her children have continued to reside. The author could not have asked for a restraining or protection order since neither option currently exists in the State party. She has been unable to flee to a shelter because none are equipped to accept her together with her children, one of whom is fully disabled. None of these facts have been disputed by the State party and, considered together, they indicate that the rights of the author under articles 5 (a) and 16 of the Convention have been violated.

9.5The Committee also notes that the lack of effective legal and other measures prevented the State party from dealing in a satisfactory manner with the Committee’s request for interim measures.

9.6Acting under article 7, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Committee is of the view that the State party has failed to fulfil its obligations and has thereby violated the rights of the author under article 2 (a), (b) and (e) and article 5 (a) in conjunction with article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and makes the following recommendations to the State party:

I. Concerning the author of the communication

(a)Take immediate and effective measures to guarantee the physical and mental integrity of A. T. and her family;

(b)Ensure that A. T. is given a safe home in which to live with her children, receives appropriate child support and legal assistance as well as reparation proportionate to the physical and mental harm undergone and to the gravity of the violations of her rights;

II. General

(a)Respect, protect, promote and fulfil women’s human rights, including their right to be free from all forms of domestic violence, including intimidation and threats of violence;

(b)Assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection of the law by acting with due diligence to prevent and respond to such violence against women;

(c)Take all necessary measures to ensure that the national strategy for the prevention and effective treatment of violence within the family is promptly implemented and evaluated;

(d)Take all necessary measures to provide regular training on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol thereto to judges, lawyers and law enforcement officials;

(e)Implement expeditiously and without delay the Committee’s concluding comments of August 2002 on the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Hungary in respect of violence against women and girls, in particular the Committee’s recommendation that a specific law be introduced prohibiting domestic violence against women, which would provide for protection and exclusion orders as well as support services, including shelters;

(f)Investigate promptly, thoroughly, impartially and seriously all allegations of domestic violence and bring the offenders to justice in accordance with international standards;

(g)Provide victims of domestic violence with safe and prompt access to justice, including free legal aid where necessary, in order to ensure them available, effective and sufficient remedies and rehabilitation;

(h)Provide offenders with rehabilitation programmes and programmes on non-violent conflict resolution methods.

9.7In accordance with article 7, paragraph 4, the State party shall give due consideration to the views of the Committee, together with its recommendations, and shall submit to the Committee, within six months, a written response, including any information on any action taken in the light of the views and recommendations of the Committee. The State party is also requested to publish the Committee’s views and recommendations and to have them translated into the Hungarian language and widely distributed in order to reach all relevant sectors of society.

Part twoReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its thirty-third session

His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan

Secretary-General of the United Nations

New York

Letter of transmittal

31 August 2005

Sir,

I have the honour to refer to article 21 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, according to which the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, established pursuant to the Convention, “shall, through the Economic and Social Council, report annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations on its activities”.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women held its thirty-third session from 5 to 22 July 2005 at United Nations Headquarters. It adopted its report on the session at the 700th meeting, on 22 July 2005. The report of the Committee is herewith submitted to you for transmission to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

(Signed) Rosario G. ManaloChairpersonCommittee on the Elimination of Discriminationagainst Women

Chapter IMatters brought to the attention of States parties

Decisions

Decision 33/IRequest for extension of the meeting time of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, recognizing that, as at 1 July 2005, 180 States had ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and that, of those States, 71 had also become party to its Optional Protocol, which provides for a communication and inquiry procedure; noting that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has significantly less annual meeting time than other human rights treaty bodies with comparable responsibilities, a circumstance that led the General Assembly, in its resolution 50/202 of 22 December 1995, to take note with approval of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, which was adopted by the States parties to the Convention on 22 May 1995 but which, despite the Committee’s efforts, still awaits entry into force; noting also that, in the three years since the holding of the exceptional session in August 2002, which eliminated the significant number of reports of States parties that had awaited consideration by the Committee, a new backlog of reports of 55 States parties has accumulated; expressing serious concern that the backlog of reports awaiting consideration constitutes in itself a disincentive for States to report in a timely manner, as the Convention requires them to do; noting the Committee’s efforts to encourage States parties to submit their reports in a timely manner and, in this regard, expressing appreciation to States parties for doing so and for submitting their reports in accordance with the Committee’s reporting guidelines; noting also the Committee’s ongoing efforts to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of its working methods, and drawing attention to its most recent decisions to that effect; and emphasizing the urgent need to find a long-term solution that will allow the Committee to implement its responsibilities under the Convention and its Optional Protocol in an effective and timely manner as well as place the Committee on an equal footing with other human rights treaty bodies in regard to its meeting time; drawing attention to its previous request to the General Assembly seeking authorization for an extension of meeting time:

(a)Requests the General Assembly to authorize the Committee to hold three annual sessions of three weeks each, with a one-week pre-sessional working group for each session, effective from January 2006;

(b)Also requests the General Assembly to authorize the Committee to meet on a temporary basis in 2006 and 2007, for part of its three annual sessions, in parallel working groups for the purpose of considering reports of States parties submitted under article 18 of the Convention. In particular, the Committee requests approval to meet for up to seven days in parallel working groups during its third (July/August) annual session in 2006, and its first (January) and third (July/August) annual sessions in 2007. The Committee notes that it intends to evaluate its experience, as well as the need for parallel working groups, in July and August 2007 with a view to submitting a new recommendation to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session;

(c)Further requests the General Assembly to continue to authorize two annual sessions of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Decision 33/II

The Committee adopted a statement on the situation of women in Iraq (see annex X to part two of the present report).

Chapter IIOrganizational and other matters

A.States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Optional Protocol

1.As at 22 July 2005, the closing date of the thirty-third session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, there were 180 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979 and opened for signature, ratification and accession in New York in March 1980. In accordance with article 27, of the Convention, it entered into force on 3 September 1981. As at 22 July 2005, 45 States parties had accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the Committee’s meeting time.

2.On the same date, there were 71 States parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 54/4 of 6 October 1999 and opened for signature, ratification and accession in New York on 10 December 1999. In accordance with article 16 of the Optional Protocol, it entered into force on 22 December 2000.

3.A list of States parties to the Convention is contained in annex I to part two of the present report. A list of States parties that have accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, concerning the Committee’s meeting time, is contained in part two, annex II. A list of States parties that have signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention is contained in part two, annex III.

B.Opening of the session

4.The Committee held its thirty-third session at United Nations Headquarters from 5 to 22 July 2005. The Committee held 17 plenary meetings (684th to 700th and held nine meetings to discuss agenda items 4, 5, 6 and 7. A list of the documents before the Committee is contained in annex IV to part two of the present report.

5.The session was opened by the Committee’s Chairperson, Rosario Manalo.

6.The Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and the Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women addressed the Committee at its 684th meeting.

C.Adoption of the agenda

7.The Committee considered the provisional agenda (CEDAW/C/2005/II/1) at its 684th meeting. The agenda was adopted as follows:

1.Opening of the session.

2.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.

3.Report of the Chairperson on activities undertaken between the thirty-second and thirty-third sessions of the Committee.

4.Consideration of the reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

5.Implementation of article 21 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

6.Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee.

7.Activities of the Committee under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

8.Provisional agenda for the thirty-fourth session.

9.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its thirty-third session.

D.Report of the pre-session working group

8.At its ninth session, the Committee decided to convene a pre-session working group for five days prior to each session to prepare lists of issues and questions relating to the periodic reports that would be considered by the Committee at the subsequent session. At its thirty-first session, the Committee decided that lists of issues and questions would also be prepared on initial reports. The pre-session working group for the thirty-third session of the Committee met from 30 January to 4 February 2005.

9.The following members, representing different regional groups, participated in the working group: Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani, Salma Khan, Dubravka Šimonović, Glenda Simms and Regina Tavares da Silva. The pre-session working group elected Ms. Khan as its Chairperson.

10.The working group prepared lists of issues and questions relating to the reports of the following States parties: Benin, Burkina Faso, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Gambia, Guyana, Ireland, Israel and Lebanon.

11.At the 684th meeting, Ms. Khan introduced the report of the pre-session working group (see CEDAW/PSWG/2005/II/CRP.1 and Add.1-8).

E.Organization of work

12.At the 684th meeting, the Chief of the Women’s Rights Section, Division for the Advancement of Women, introduced item 5, implementation of article 21 of the Convention, and item 6, ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee. Under item 5, the Committee had before it documents CEDAW/C/2005/II/3 and Add.1, 3 and 4, and under item 6, documents CEDAW/C/2005/II/2 and CEDAW/C/2005/II/4.

13.On 5 July 2005, the Committee held a closed meeting with representatives of specialized agencies and bodies of the United Nations, at which country-specific information was provided, as well as information on the efforts made by the body or entity concerned to promote the provisions of the Convention at the national and regional levels through its own policies and programmes.

14.On 5 and 11 July 2005, the Committee held informal public meetings with representatives of non-governmental organizations, who provided information about the implementation of the Convention in States reporting at the thirty-third session. On 11 July, representatives of a national human rights institution also provided information to the Committee.

F.Membership of the Committee

15.A list of the members of the Committee, indicating the duration of their terms of office, is contained in annex V to part two of the present report.

Chapter IIIReport of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the thirty-second and thirty-third sessions

16.At the 684th meeting, the Chairperson reported on the activities she had undertaken since the thirty-second session. She highlighted her participation in the forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (28 February-11 March 2005), where she had addressed the Commission at its opening meeting and participated as a panellist in a discussion of the Commission on the synergies between national-level implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. She had also participated in the fourth inter-committee meeting (together with Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling and Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani) and the seventeenth meeting of chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies in Geneva (20-24 June 2005). The Chairperson reported that she had been unable to attend the sixty-first session of the Commission on Human Rights owing to scheduling conflicts.

Chapter IVConsideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention

A.Introduction

17.At its thirty-third session, the Committee considered the reports of eight States parties submitted under article 18 of the Convention: the initial report of one State party; the initial and second periodic reports of one State party; the combined initial, second and third periodic reports of two States parties; the third periodic report of one State party; the combined third, fourth, fifth and sixth periodic report of one State party and the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of two States parties.

18.The Committee prepared concluding comments on each of the States parties’ reports considered. The Committee’s concluding comments, as prepared by members of the Committee, and a summary of the introductory presentations by the representatives of the States parties are set out below.

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

1.Initial report

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

19.The Committee considered the initial report of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (CEDAW/C/PRK/1) at its 699th and 700th meetings on 18 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.699 and 700).

Introduction by the State party

20.In introducing the report, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea informed the Committee that his Government had acceded to the Convention on 27 February 2001 based on the ideal of thoroughly eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and further promoting the rights of women. Soon after, in September 2001, the National Coordination Committee for the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women had been established. That mechanism would regularly monitor the implementation of the Convention, harmonize the country’s human rights system with international standards and discharge the reporting obligations.

21.The representative indicated that while preparing the initial report, the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had found that the Convention’s basic requirements had already been realized in various sectors. Through the process, a better awareness had been gained of the international trend in the protection and promotion of women’s rights.

22.By way of providing the historical context of the situation of women in his country, the representative explained that as early as the 1930s, the late President Kim Il Sung had begun a programme of emancipating women completely from centuries-old feudal discrimination and oppression. The law on gender equality had been promulgated on 30 July 1946, following which the Constitution, the labour law, the education law, the public health law and other legislation and regulations had been adopted to consolidate the legal and institutional system to prevent discrimination and protect women.

23.The representative indicated that women had firmly occupied their social position and had been a force in the promotion of the social and economic development of the country, owing to satisfactory legislation and policies on gender equality and to preferential treatment. They enjoyed equal rights in the political, economic, labour, cultural and all other sectors.

24.Despite successive natural disasters since the mid-1990s, which had radically decreased agricultural production and had caused economic difficulty, social benefits, such as compulsory free education and universal free medical care, had been maintained at a normal level. Women’s educational achievement had surpassed the secondary level and they enjoyed access to reproductive and maternity health care as well as to other health services.

25.In conclusion, the representative noted the absolute trust of women in the social system and the benevolent politics initiated by the late President Kim Il Sung and carried forward by the country’s leader, Kim Jong Il. The achievement in implementation of the Convention had been possible as a result of the legislative and institutional machinery for the elimination of discrimination against women. The representative recognized that more could still be developed. He hoped that there would be open communication and cooperation between the National Coordination Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women during the consideration of the initial report of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

26.The Committee commends the State party for its ratification of the Convention, the timely submission of its initial report, which complies with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of initial reports, and for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group, as well as for the oral presentation and further clarifications in response to the questions posed by the Committee.

27.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation, which was headed by the Director of the Legal Affairs Department at the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and Chairman of the National Coordination Committee, and included members of the National Coordination Committee. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

28.The Committee notes that reservations have been made by the State party to article 2, paragraph (f), article 9, paragraph 2 and article 29, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

Positive aspects

29.The Committee notes with appreciation the Law on Sex Equality of July 1946 as an early indication of political will to achieve equality between women and men.

30.The Committee welcomes the establishment in September 2001 of the National Coordination Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Convention.

31.The Committee commends the State party for its policy, in force since 1972, of providing 11 years of compulsory free universal education, from which women have benefited in particular and which has resulted in full literacy.

32.The Committee welcomes the availability of such support services as nurseries, kindergartens, children’s wards, kitchens in workplaces and breastfeeding breaks for working mothers, as well as the use of temporary special measures to increase the number of women in certain management positions.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

33.While appreciating the State party’s willingness to amend national legislation and subsequently consider lifting the reservations to article 2, paragraph (f), and article 9, paragraph 2, the Committee considers that the reservations to articles 2 and 9 are contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention.

34. The Committee urges the State party to expedite its efforts towards the withdrawal of reservations to the Convention within a concrete time frame.

35.While noting the explanation by the State party that the Convention takes precedence over domestic law, the status of the Convention in the case of a conflict between provisions of the Convention and domestic legislation was not sufficiently clarified.

36. The Committee requests the State party to clarify in its next periodic report the status of the Convention in relation to domestic legislation in the case of a conflict.

37.The Committee is concerned that, although article 77 of the Constitution guarantees equal rights for women and men in all spheres, there is no explicit definition of discrimination against women, in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, in the State party’s legislation.

38. The Committee encourages the State party to incorporate fully the definition of discrimination, encompassing both direct and indirect discrimination, in line with article 1 of the Convention, in its Constitution or other appropriate national legislation. It encourages the State party to undertake proactive measures and policies to eliminate discrimination against women and ensure de jure (formal) and de facto (substantive) equality between women and men. It also recommends that the State party carry out awareness-raising campaigns on the Convention, in particular the meaning and scope of indirect discrimination, aimed, inter alia, at legislators, the judiciary and the legal profession.

39.While welcoming the existence of the Law on Sex Equality of July 1946, the Committee is concerned that the law has not been revised in the light of the fact that the country became party to the Convention in 2001.

40. The Committee recommends to the State party that the Law on Sex Equality of July 1946 be revised in accordance with the provisions of the Convention as a matter of priority.

41.The Committee is concerned about existing discriminatory legal provisions, particularly that which establishes a minimum marriage age for females at 17 and for males at 18, and about article 7 of the citizenship law on the determination of the citizenship of a child under the age of 14. It is also concerned about existing protective legislation, which in some cases is based on the socially perceived characteristics of women and men and which may perpetuate inequality and discrimination against women.

42. The Committee urges the State party to initiate without delay a comprehensive review of all legislation, with the aim of identifying provisions that discriminate against women, and a process of law reform to bring its laws into conformity with the provisions of the Convention.

43.While the Committee notes that the people’s committees address and regulate almost every aspect of people’s lives, including women’s lives at every level, it is concerned that the committees and their procedures may not address women’s rights and needs on an equal basis with those of men. It is also concerned about the apparent lack of effective remedies for complaints of violations of the rights of women.

44. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure adequate representation of women in the people’s committees and that training be given to the committees concerning women’s rights to equality and the obligations under the Convention. The Committee urges the State party to put in place effective remedies for all forms of discrimination against women, in line with article 2 (c) of the Convention. It also recommends that the State party establish a mechanism to monitor the effectiveness of such remedies.

45.The Committee is concerned that there are many instances of indirect and hidden discrimination against women, as evidenced by the fact that women do not choose to take on management positions because they have no time and are unwilling to participate in public and social life owing to ascribed duties in the family. The Committee is also concerned about the prevailing perception that the public and social spheres are “men’s spheres”.

46. The Committee urges the State party to recognize and analyse the persistence of indirect and hidden discrimination as an obstacle to the implementation of the Convention, and to take measures to identify where it occurs, raise awareness and be proactive in its elimination.

47.While noting the establishment of the National Coordination Committee for the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as the national machinery for the advancement of women, the Committee expresses its concern that the national machinery may not have sufficient visibility, decision-making power or financial and human resources to promote effectively the advancement of women and gender equality.

48. The Committee requests the State party to ensure that the national machinery is provided with adequate visibility, power and resources to promote effectively the advancement of women.

49.The Committee is concerned about the lack of coordination between the National Coordination Committee and the Supreme People’s Assembly, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the local people’s assemblies and committees in efforts to promote gender equality and ensure the integration of gender perspectives in all areas of legislative and policy development. While noting the willingness of the National Coordination Committee to introduce a 10-year national plan of action for women, the Committee is concerned about the lack of sufficient information on the content of the plan of action; its drafting process; the actors involved; and the areas of intervention and monitoring mechanisms.

50. The Committee recommends that the State party develop, adopt and implement, at the national level, a comprehensive and coordinated plan of action to promote gender equality and ensure gender mainstreaming at all levels and in all areas through increased interaction between the National Coordination Committee and relevant government entities at all levels. It requests the State party to involve women’s groups at all stages of the process in determining the priorities and to include a comprehensive plan for monitoring its implementation, evaluating its effectiveness and making the appropriate adjustments in the light of relevant findings. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report detailed information on the content of the 10-year national plan of action for women and to place it within the context of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the present concluding comments. It also urges the State party to provide gender training and to create gender focal points in the relevant entities.

51.The Committee regrets that the report did not provide sufficient updated statistical data disaggregated by sex on the situation of women in all areas covered by the Convention, such as the income levels of women and men, vertical job segregation and the impact of measures taken and results achieved.

52. The Committee calls upon the State party to begin putting in place a comprehensive system of data collection and of measurable indicators to assess trends in the situation of women and to measure progress towards women’s de facto equality. It invites the State party, as necessary, to seek international assistance for the conceptual training of its officials and for the development of such data collection and analysis efforts. The Committee also requests the State party to include in its next report statistical data and analysis, disaggregated by sex and by rural and urban areas, indicating the impact of measures taken and the results achieved.

53.The Committee notes with concern the persistence of traditional and stereotyped assumptions and attitudes in respect of the roles and responsibilities of women and men, which are discriminatory against women and have a pronounced impact, particularly in the areas of education and employment as well as in other areas of their lives. For example, the Committee is concerned at the stereotyping of women, which perceives them exclusively as caregivers and homemakers and assigns them in areas such as education and employment to spheres suitable to their “characteristics”. The Committee is concerned that such expectations of women have serious consequences, preventing them from accessing rights and entitlements on an equal basis with men and creating a dependency on men, husbands and family for housing, food entitlements and other services. It is also concerned that in times of economic crisis, as in the current situation of the country, women’s prescribed roles and lesser entitlement intensifies their hardship and amounts to multiple discrimination.

54. The Committee urges the State party to increase its efforts to address stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including the hidden patterns that perpetuate direct and indirect discrimination against women and girls in the areas of education and employment and in all other areas of their lives, in accordance with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. Those efforts should include educational measures at all levels, beginning at an early age; the revision of school textbooks and curricula; and awareness-raising campaigns directed at both women and men to address stereotypes regarding the roles of women and men.

55.The Committee expresses concern that the State party is not aware of the existence of domestic violence and that, as a result, there is a lack of specific legislation to deal with all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, and a lack of prevention and protection measures for victims.

56. The Committee calls on the State party to conduct research on the incidence, causes and consequences of all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, and to include the results in its next periodic report. In this regard the Committee urges the State party to find ways to make visible the existence of domestic violence, for example by training health workers to identify signs of abuse. It also recommends that the State party adopt specific legislation on domestic violence and ensure that violence against women and girls constitutes a criminal offence, that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished. It also urges the State party to address all forms of violence against women and girls in accordance with its general recommendation 19 on violence against women and to accord priority attention to the adoption of comprehensive measures, including the training of law enforcement agencies in responding effectively to victims of violence.

57.The Committee is concerned about the practice of encouraging conciliation among spouses that apply for divorce, with the aim of protecting family unity, which could be detrimental to women who are victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.

58. The Committee recommends that the State party conduct a comprehensive analysis of divorce cases and encourage judges to review the utilization of conciliation and to ensure that the rights of women are duly protected. The Committee recommends gender-sensitive training for legislators, the judiciary and public officials, particularly for law enforcement personnel and health service providers. It also recommends the establishment of counselling services for victims of violence and the implementation of awareness-raising campaigns and public education programmes.

59.In the light of the widespread famine and natural disasters that have affected the country from the mid-1990s, the Committee expresses concern about the insufficient explanation provided with respect to the impact of those phenomena on women, in particular on women from rural areas, on women who are the main providers of the household and on young girls. The Committee is concerned that they may become vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation, such as prostitution.

60. The Committee urges the State party to introduce specific poverty alleviation measures aimed at improving the situation of women to eliminate their vulnerability. The Committee recommends that the State party seek international assistance in guaranteeing that women, particularly women from rural areas, have equal access to food supplies. It urges the State party to assist women economic returnees who went abroad without valid travel permits to reintegrate into their families and society and to protect them from all forms of violations of their rights. It calls on the State party to train law enforcement officials, migration officials and border police on the causes, consequences and incidence of trafficking and other forms of exploitation so as to enable them to render support to women who might be at risk of becoming victims of trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation. It also recommends that the State party conduct nationwide awareness-raising campaigns on the risks and consequences of trafficking targeted at women and girls. The Committee further urges the State party to evaluate those phenomena and systematically compile information on them with a view to formulating a comprehensive strategy that includes measures of prevention, prosecution and punishment of offenders, as well as measures to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims. The Committee also urges the State party to intensify its efforts to deal with these phenomena through increased international, regional and bilateral cooperation. Information on the results of the research and progress made should be included in the next periodic report.

61.While noting that women make up approximately 20 per cent of the deputies to the eleventh Supreme People’s Assembly, and 30 per cent of the local people’s assemblies, the Committee expresses concern that the number of women in decision-making positions remains low in politics, the judiciary and the civil service. The Committee is also concerned at the low participation of women in decision-making positions in the foreign service.

62. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to increase the number of women in decision-making positions in all spheres. It also recommends that women’s representation in the foreign service be increased, including in missions abroad. It also recommends that the State party introduce temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to strengthen and accelerate its efforts to promote and elect women to positions of power, supported by special training programmes and awareness-raising campaigns aimed at underlining the importance of women’s participation in decision-making at all levels.

63.While recognizing that the State party has the potential for providing comprehensive coverage of health services in the country, the Committee is concerned that insufficient information has been provided on the priority focus for the provision of such services in the light of the economic crisis, and that women may be affected more negatively than men. The Committee expresses concern about the insufficient information on the impact of the reproductive health policy in urban and rural areas and about the fact that the policy exclusively targets women.

64. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report detailed information about the availability of and access to general and reproductive health services for women in all parts of the country. It also requests the State party to provide information on the impact of the measures taken to improve the access of women, including those from rural areas, to reproductive and sexual health programmes, in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health. It also recommends that the State party target men and boys in its policy on sexual and reproductive health.

65.While welcoming the efforts of the Government to raise awareness of the risks and effects of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic, the Committee expresses concern that stigma might affect the disclosure of actual cases of infection.

66. The Committee emphasizes that the collection of reliable data on HIV/AIDS is critical in order to understand the extent of the problem, specifically the impact of the pandemic on women and men, and to ensure that women infected with HIV/AIDS are not discriminated against or stigmatized and are given appropriate assistance. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention measures for women and men; to conduct a nationwide awareness-raising campaign on the risks and effects of HIV/AIDS; to develop a comprehensive HIV/AIDS research and control programme based on partnerships with stakeholders; and to ensure access to affordable antiretroviral drugs.

67.The Committee is concerned about the insufficient explanation provided on the number and condition of women in detention.

68. The Committee urges the State party to provide information on the number and condition of women in detention in its next report.

69.The Committee is concerned about the lack of women’s (human rights) organizations and of an independent human rights institution to monitor the implementation of the State party’s obligations under the Convention.

70. The Committee recommends that the State party provide an environment that encourages the establishment of women’s (human rights) organizations, in accordance with article 7 (c) of the Convention. It also calls on the State party to create an independent human rights institution with oversight responsibilities for the implementation of the State party’s obligations under the Convention.

71. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

72. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

73. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

74.The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments1 enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to consider ratifying the treaties to which it is not yet a party, namely, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

75. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and of the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

76. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in March 2006.

2.Initial and second periodic reports

Lebanon

77.The Committee considered the initial and second periodic reports (see CEDAW/C/LBN/1 and CEDAW/C/LBN/2) of Lebanon at its 691st and 692nd meetings, on 12 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.691 and 692).

Introduction by the State party

78.In introducing the report, the representative of Lebanon stressed the significance of the ratification of the Convention for Lebanon, which, despite reservations entered upon ratification, underlined the Government’s commitment to and important achievements in the pursuit of gender equality.

79.Even before ratifying the Convention in 1996, Lebanon had achieved several important milestones towards gender equality, including the granting of political rights to women in 1953, the right of married women to choose their citizenship in 1960, the right of women to be elected to local councils in 1963, the abolishment of the requirement of a husband’s permission for travel in 1974, the abolishment of the prohibition on the use of contraceptives in 1983 and the establishment of equal retirement ages and social security benefits for men and women in 1984.

80.The Constitution provided for the equality of all persons before the law. Women participated in electoral processes and their representation in administrative and legal fields had increased. Lebanese women today enjoyed legal rights on an equal footing with men — they had the same legal capacity to conclude contracts and own property, and in legal proceedings in courts. Women had the same rights to legal services as men. Women also had the same rights as men to acquire, keep or change their citizenship, and marriage to a foreign national did not automatically deprive a woman of her Lebanese citizenship.

81.The representative noted that the labour law did not distinguish between women and men in employment and that the principle of equal pay for equal work prevailed. Women participated in the political process on an equal footing with men. Education was guaranteed to all without discrimination and there were no barriers to co-education. The number of women in all educational fields was increasing and women had entered fields traditionally dominated by men. There had been tangible improvements in women’s health indicators and women made up the majority of health workers.

82.The representative drew attention to the general framework for the protection of human rights in the country and relevant provisions in the preamble to the Constitution. In addition to human rights instruments adopted by the United Nations, including those of particular relevance to women, Lebanon was also party to conventions adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Labour Organization, all of which enhanced the recognition of women’s rights. In 2002, Lebanon acceded to an agreement within the framework of the League of Arab States on the establishment of the Arab Women’s Organization, of which it was an active member.

83.The representative stated that Lebanon was unable to withdraw its reservations to article 9, paragraph 2; article 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d), (f) and (g); and article 29, paragraph 1. According to the representative, no uniform personal status law applied to all Lebanese. Instead, each Lebanese citizen was subject to the personal status laws and courts of one of the 18 recognized religious communities regulating matters such as marriage, parenthood and inheritance. Religious pluralism had played a major role not only in the Constitution of the Lebanese people but also in the establishment of the Lebanese State and, alongside other economic and political factors, continued to play an extremely important role.

84.While the State party had to address many priorities, women’s issues were among the most salient. The efforts of the State and civil society were coordinated in many ways and led to action on issues such as violence against women, resulting in the provision of assistance to victims, legislative initiatives and the punishment of perpetrators. Those efforts had also resulted in increased awareness of gender issues in society. Civil society organizations operated freely in the country.

85.Recent parliamentary elections had resulted in an increase in the number of women in Parliament from three in 2000 to six, even though no quota system was in place. It was anticipated that Parliament would continue to amend legislation, such as the Penal Code, in conformity with the Convention.

86.In conclusion, the representative stressed that wars had obstructed the struggle for women’s equality in Lebanon, and noted that peace was essential for giving such rights and issues the attention they deserved.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

87.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Convention and expresses its appreciation to the State party for its initial and second periodic reports, while regretting that they did not adhere to the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of reports and that they were overdue. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation and further clarifications offered in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

88.The Committee welcomes the State party’s delegation and appreciates the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and members of the Committee.

89.The Committee notes that Lebanon entered reservations on articles 9 (2), 16 (1) (c), (d), (f), (g), and 29 (1) of the Convention.

Positive aspects

90.The Committee appreciates the progress achieved in the area of women’s education, particularly in institutions of higher education where, in 2002/03, women constituted 53.9 per cent of the total number of students.

91.The Committee notes with satisfaction the growth in women’s representation in the judiciary, where 5 of the 37 judges at the Court of Cassation and 71 of the 112 apprentice judges are now. It also welcomes the fact that in November 2004, for the first time ever, a woman judge was appointed as public prosecutor to the Court of Cassation, thus having the opportunity to enter the High Council of the Judiciary.

92.The Committee welcomes the fact that women’s participation in the labour market has increased to 25 per cent and that there have been improvements in women’s participation in both the private and public sectors of the economy.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

93.The Committee expresses concern that the State party continues to have reservations to article 9, paragraph 2, and article 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d), (f) and (g), of the Convention. The Committee considers that the reservations to articles 9 and 16 are contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention.

94. The Committee urges the State party to expedite the necessary steps to limit and ultimately withdraw its reservations to the Convention.

95.The Committee is concerned that the State party’s legislation does not contain provisions guaranteeing equality on the basis of sex as required under article 2 (a) of the Convention.

96. The Committee urges the State party to include provisions guaranteeing equality on the basis of sex, in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention, in the Constitution or in other appropriate legislation. In this regard, the Committee recommends that consideration be given to including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women among the international human rights instruments mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution.

97.The Committee is concerned that the State party’s efforts to reform discriminatory legislation so as to bring it into compliance with the Convention have been proceeding on an ad hoc basis. The Committee expresses concern about the State party’s limited understanding of its obligations under the Convention, and in particular about the State party’s focus on formal equality and lack of progress in achieving de facto equality in many sectors, including the absence of time-bound targets.

98. The Committee recommends that the State party put in place a strategy, including time-bound targets, for a systematic review and revision of all legislation so as to achieve full compliance with the provisions of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure that women enjoy de facto equality with men, according to the Convention. It requests the State party to systematically monitor the impact of its legislation, policies and programmes and to provide in its next periodic report information on the impact of these measures and concrete progress achieved.

99.The Committee is concerned that no unified personal status law exists in the country and that each Lebanese citizen is subject to the laws and courts pertaining to his or her religious community in regard to the regulation of personal status. The Committee notes that insufficient information has been provided in the reports and oral presentation on the religious communities existing in the country, including information on the various personal status codes governing these communities, in particular their scope and impact on women’s equality.

100. The Committee urges the State party to adopt a unified personal status code which is in line with the Convention and would be applicable to all women in Lebanon, irrespective of their religious affiliation. The Committee recommends that the State party include, in its next periodic report, detailed information on the various religious communities existing in the country, including on the various personal status codes affecting women.

101.While welcoming the efforts of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, the Committee is concerned that the national machinery for the advancement of women does not have sufficient power or financial and human resources to effectively promote gender equality, the advancement of women and implementation of the Convention.

102. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen the existing national machinery by providing it with adequate power and human and financial resources at all levels so as to make it more effective in the fulfilment of its mandate. It also recommends that a gender perspective be mainstreamed in all policies and programmes in all sectors, including through training and capacity-building measures on gender issues and the creation of gender focal points.

103.The Committee notes with concern that violence against women and girls persists, including domestic violence, rape and crimes committed in the name of honour. The Committee is especially concerned about article 562 of the Lebanese penal code, which allows mitigation of the penalty for crimes committed in the name of honour, and the apparent lack of sensitization efforts in the State party to reject a concept of honour that perpetuates and condones the killing of women.

104. The Committee urges the State party to accord priority attention to the adoption of a comprehensive approach to address violence against women and girls, taking into account the Committee’s general recommendation 19 on violence against women. The Committee calls on the State party to amend article 562 of the Lebanese penal code, which allows mitigation of the penalty for crimes committed in the name of honour, and to adopt specific legislation on violence against women, including domestic violence, within a clear time frame so as to ensure that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to protection and effective redress, and that perpetrators of such acts are effectively prosecuted and punished. The Committee also recommends gender-sensitive training on violence against women for public officials, particularly law enforcement personnel, the judiciary and health service providers, so as to ensure that they are sensitized to all forms of violence against women and can adequately respond to it. The Committee also calls on the State party to take measures towards modifying social, cultural and traditional attitudes, including the concept of honour, that remain permissive of violence against women.

105.The Committee is strongly concerned about the pervasiveness of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted traditional and cultural stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family, in the workplace and in society, thus constituting serious obstacles to women’s enjoyment of their human rights and impeding the full implementation of the Convention.

106. The Committee urges the State party to increase its efforts to design and implement comprehensive awareness-raising programmes to foster a better understanding of and support for equality between women and men at all levels of society. Such efforts should aim at modifying stereotypical attitudes and traditional norms about the responsibilities and roles of women and men in the family, the workplace and in society, as required under articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention, and to strengthen societal support for equality between women and men.

107.While welcoming the fact that the percentage of women deputies in the National Assembly has doubled from 2.3 per cent in 1992 to 4.3 per cent in 2005, the Committee remains concerned about the very low level of representation of women in decision-making positions, particularly in elected and appointed bodies at all levels, and their representation in the administration and foreign service.

108. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to accelerate the increase in the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of public life.

109.The Committee notes with concern that, despite law reform in the field of employment, women remain disadvantaged in the labour market, which is characterized by strong occupational segregation and the persistence of a gender wage gap.

110. The Committee requests the State party to step up its efforts to eliminate occupational segregation and to ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market. It also recommends that the State party establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure the enforcement of legislation requiring employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value. The Committee requests that effective measures be taken to support the reconciliation of family and professional responsibilities and to promote the sharing of domestic and family responsibilities between women and men.

111.While welcoming the incorporation of reproductive health services into the primary health-care system, the Committee remains concerned that not all women have access to such services, especially in the rural areas. It is also concerned about women’s deaths resulting from clandestine abortions.

112. The Committee urges the Government to strengthen, especially in the rural areas, the implementation of programmes and policies aimed at providing effective access for women to health-care information and services, in particular regarding reproductive health and affordable contraceptive methods, with the aim also of preventing clandestine abortions. The Committee further urges the State party to decriminalize abortion where there are mitigating circumstances. The Committee recommends the implementation of measures to protect women from the negative effects on their health of unsafe abortions, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

113.The Committee notes with concern the high incidence of HIV/AIDS among women, who make up 18.2 per cent of those infected, and that no special programmes have been designed to protect women from HIV/AIDS.

114. The Committee urges the State party to design and implement comprehensive gender-sensitive programmes and allocate sufficient funds to combat HIV/AIDS, to step up preventive measures, including awareness-raising, and to ensure that women and girls infected with HIV/AIDS are not discriminated against and are given appropriate assistance and treatment.

115.The Committee observes a lack of up-to-date sex-disaggregated data in the reports, including in the areas of women migrant workers and violence against women.

116. The Committee recommends that the State party put in place comprehensive data collection that covers all areas of the Convention, including the situation of women migrant workers and violence against women, so as to be able to assess trends and the impact of programmes on women, and to include such data and related analysis in its next periodic report.

117.While noting the reduction in the general illiteracy rate of women, the Committee is concerned that the illiteracy rate remains high among rural women. The Committee is also concerned about the insufficient legislative protection of the status of rural women.

118. The Committee encourages the State party to implement further programmes specifically designed to reduce illiteracy rates among rural women and to introduce new laws relating to this group of women, so as to ensure the full implementation of article 14 of the Convention.

119.While welcoming the presence of a vibrant civil society, the Committee is concerned about the lack of cooperation of the authorities with non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Convention. The Committee expresses concern about the apparent lack of understanding on the part of the State party about the obligations of the State and the role of non-governmental organizations in regard to the implementation of the Convention and the promotion of gender equality.

120. The Committee urges the State party to cooperate more effectively with non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Convention, while assuming full responsibility for fulfilling its obligations under the Convention. The Committee further recommends that the State party consult with non-governmental organizations during the preparation of its next periodic report.

121. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

122. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

123. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

124.The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments1 enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Lebanon to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

125. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Lebanon of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Lebanon, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

126. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in May 2006.

3.Combined initial, second and third periodic reports

Benin

127.The Committee considered the combined initial, second and third periodic report of Benin (CEDAW/C/BEN/1-3) at its 687th and 688th meetings on 7 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.687 and 688).

Introduction by the State party

128.Introducing the report, the Minister for the Family, Social Protection and Solidarity and head of the delegation pointed out that the 1990 Constitution of the Republic of Benin paid particular attention to human rights and that the principle of equality between the sexes was established in several of its articles (inter alia articles 6 and 26).

129.Several technical departments, commissions and committees, established by law or by decree, ensured the promotion and protection of women’s rights. The National Commission for the Advancement of Women, which had been established in October 2002, as well as the Benin Human Rights Commission played a decisive role in this system.

130.The representative pointed out that numerous associations and non-governmental organizations, through their activities, were contributing to promoting and protecting the rights of women. Those organizations were associated with the work of the State structures working in the human rights sphere.

131.Constitutional, legislative and regulatory measures allowed Beninese women to be represented in the political, economic and social life of the country.

132.Numerous legislative, administrative and judicial measures had been adopted to ensure the implementation of the Convention’s provisions: the Labour Code of 1998; the 2001 law concerning specific rules for the election of a President of the Republic; the 2001 decree on conditions for access to widowhood pensions; the policy on the advancement of women, adopted in January 2001; the law on the suppression of female genital mutilation; the 2003 law on sexual health and reproduction; and the inter-ministerial decree outlining the sanctions to be imposed on perpetrators of sexual violence.

133.The most important recent measure concerned the adoption of the Code on Persons and the Family which outlawed the levirate, set the legal age for marriage for boys and girls at 18, and established monogamous marriage, parental authority and equal inheritance rights for children, regardless of gender.

134.The Code had been promulgated in 2004 and activities were being carried out throughout the territory to publicize and raise awareness about it.

135.The representative mentioned that the seventh section of the Government’s programme of action for the period 2001-2006 was entitled “gender promotion”. It included specific objectives for the advancement of women.

136.Regarding activities and measures undertaken by Benin in the framework of the Convention’s implementation, the report pointed out that steps had been taken.

137.Nevertheless, violations of individual rights and of the physical integrity of women continued to occur. These violations were prosecuted in accordance with the laws in force.

138.The representative stressed that gender equality was a priority for the Government of Benin. A thematic group on population, gender and development, consisting of partners from the United Nations system, government ministers and non-governmental organizations, was ensuring follow-up.

139.The representative concluded by stressing that the Government was making efforts to promote the rule of law and to guarantee gender equality and that it was determined to promote a genuine culture of respect for human rights and, in particular, the rights of women.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

140.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Convention without reservations and expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined initial, second and third periodic report, which was, however, long overdue. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation and clarifications in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

141.The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, which was headed by the Minister for Family, Social Protection and Solidarity and which included the Minister for Justice, Legislative Affairs and Human Rights. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the frank and constructive dialogue between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

142.The Committee commends the State party for the process of preparation of the report and in particular for the use of a coordinating body to ensure inter-ministerial collaboration and input from non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the report.

143.The Committee congratulates the State party for the recent legislative reforms to eliminate discrimination against women, including the adoption of law number 3 of 2003 prohibiting the practice of female genital mutilation and the Personal and Family Code in 2004.

144.The Committee welcomes the ratification by the State party of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in December 2004.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

145.While the Committee notes with satisfaction that, following ratification, international treaties prevail over national laws, it remains concerned about the status of implementation of the Convention. In particular, the Committee is concerned about limited compliance in national laws and policy with the provisions of the Convention and the definition of discrimination contained in article 1. The Committee is especially concerned about the State party’s narrow focus primarily on de jure equality rather than the realization also of de facto, or substantive, equality of women as required under the Convention. The Committee is concerned about lack of efforts to assess the impact of laws and policies on women’s equality in such sectors as decision-making, education, employment and health.

146. The Committee recommends that the State party review all its laws, policies and programmes to ensure compatibility and compliance with the Convention and take all appropriate legislative and other measures to ensure that women enjoy de facto equality with men in all sectors, including adequate sanctions prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination against women as defined in article 1 of the Convention, as well as remedies for violation of rights. It recommends the implementation of campaigns to raise awareness about the Convention and the State party’s obligations under the Convention, including the meaning and scope of substantive equality between women and men. Such efforts should be aimed at the general public and especially at public officials, the judiciary and the legal profession. The Committee calls on the State party to assess progress towards the achievement of women’s de facto equality in all sectors and provide that information in the next report.

147.While welcoming the adoption of the Personal and Family Code in 2004, aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and abolishing many discriminatory provisions of the customary law of Dahomey, including polygamy, levirate marriage and discrimination in inheritance rights and the age of marriage, the Committee remains concerned about the application of customary practices and the consequences thereof. It is also concerned about the prevalence of structural patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes that may undermine the effectiveness of the Code and prevent compliance with its provisions. The Committee expresses similar concerns regarding the effectiveness of the law on female genital mutilation. The Committee is concerned about the status of marriages concluded prior to the Code’s coming into force.

148. The Committee calls upon the State party to develop and implement comprehensive educational measures and awareness-raising campaigns on the provisions of the Personal and Family Code and on other laws designed to eliminate discrimination against women, so as to achieve full compliance with their provisions. It also urges the State party to ensure that the polygamous marriages concluded prior to the entry into force of the new Code enjoy the same rights and benefits provided for in the new Code. The Committee recommends that those efforts be undertaken in combination with educational programmes designed to raise awareness and challenge discriminatory harmful customs, traditions, practices and stereotypical attitudes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women in the family and society, as required under articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. The Committee encourages the State party to undertake these efforts in collaboration with civil society and women’s and human rights organizations, and to target women and men in all segments of society, including public officials at all levels of government, community and traditional leaders, employers and the general public.

149.The Committee is concerned about the absence of policies and programmes, including legislation, to address violence against women and the economic exploitation and ill-treatment of young girls employed as domestic servants. The Committee is particularly concerned about the perception prevalent in the State party that violence against women, particularly domestic violence, is a private matter, and about the reluctance of women to report incidents of violence committed against them. The Committee also expresses its concern about the paucity in the report of information and statistics on violence against women.

150. The Committee urges the State party to accord priority attention to the adoption of comprehensive measures to combat violence against women and girls, in accordance with its general recommendation 19 on violence against women. The Committee calls on the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence, including marital rape, and legislation concerning all forms of sexual abuse, and to ensure that women and girls, including domestic servants, who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished. The Committee recommends that training be undertaken for the judiciary and public officials, particularly law enforcement personnel, and for health-service providers, so as to ensure that they are sensitized to all forms of violence against women and can adequately respond to it. It also recommends the implementation of awareness-raising campaigns, through the media and public education programmes, and working towards a zero-tolerance policy on all forms of violence against women. The Committee requests the State party to provide information in its next report on the laws and policies in place to deal with violence against women, and on the impact of such measures.

151.While welcoming the adoption of measures to prevent and combat trafficking in children, the Committee is concerned that similar measures have not been undertaken with regard to trafficking in women.

152. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to combat trafficking in women through the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive strategy, including national laws and subregional cross-border initiatives, to prevent trafficking, punish offenders and protect and rehabilitate victims.

153.The Committee is concerned about the low level of representation of women in public and political life and in decision-making positions, including at the international level. It notes with concern the absence of proactive measures to increase women’s participation in political and public life. The Committee further expresses its concern regarding the State party’s position that the use of temporary special measures such as quotas might be considered to be in violation of the principle of equality between women and men of the country’s Constitution.

154. The Committee draws the State party’s attention to general recommendation 23 on the participation of women in public life and urges full implementation of the measures recommended therein. The Committee also urges the State party to implement temporary special measures, including quotas, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, and to establish concrete goals and timetables to increase the number of women in political and public life and in decision-making positions. The Committee encourages the State party to implement and strengthen training and awareness-raising programmes to highlight the link between the application of temporary special measures and the achievement of substantive equality between women and men, as well as the importance of women’s participation in decision-making at all levels, including at the international level, and to create enabling, encouraging and supportive conditions for such participation.

155.The Committee is concerned at the poor educational infrastructure and the insufficient number of schools and teachers, which constitute particular obstacles to the education of girls and young women. The Committee expresses its concern about the low rate of enrolment of girls in schools, preference for the education of boys and the high dropout rate of girls due to pregnancy and early and forced marriage. The Committee is especially concerned about the extremely high rate of illiteracy among women and girls, 81 per cent for women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49.

156. The Committee urges the State party to increase its investment in education, including through international donor assistance, and to raise awareness of the importance of education as a human right and as a basis for the empowerment of women. It also encourages the State party to take steps to overcome traditional attitudes that constitute obstacles to girls’ education. It recommends that the State party take steps to ensure equal access of girls and young women to all levels of education, to retain girls in school and to strengthen the implementation of re-entry policies providing for girls to return to school after pregnancy. The Committee recommends that the State party make every effort to improve the literacy level of girls and women through the adoption of comprehensive programmes, in collaboration with civil society, at the formal and non-formal levels and through adult education and training. The Committee encourages the State party to take temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to accelerate the improvement of women’s and girls’ educational situation.

157.While noting the efforts made by the State party to improve reproductive health care to women, the Committee remains concerned about the lack of access to adequate health care for women and girls, particularly in rural areas. It is concerned about the causes of morbidity and mortality in women, particularly the number of deaths due to illegal abortions, and about inadequate family planning services and the low rates of contraceptive use. The Committee expresses its concern that women require the permission of their husbands to obtain contraceptives and family planning services.

158. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures, in accordance with general recommendation 24 on women and health, to improve and increase women’s access to health care and health-related services and information, particularly in rural areas. It calls on the State party to improve the availability of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, with the aim also of preventing clandestine abortions, and to make available, without requiring the permission of the husband, contraceptive services to women and girls. It further recommends that sex education be widely promoted and targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

159.The Committee is concerned about the situation of rural women and regrets that the report did not provide sufficient information on their de facto position in all sectors, including education, health and employment, and in regard to their access to credit, arable land and drinking water.

160. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next report sex- disaggregated data and information on the de facto position of rural women in all sectors and on measures taken to implement article 14 of the Convention.

161.The Committee regrets that the report does not provide sufficient updated statistical data disaggregated by sex on the situation of women in all areas covered by the Convention and information on the impact of measures taken and results achieved.

162. The Committee calls upon the State party to put in place a comprehensive system of data collection and of measurable indicators to assess trends in the situation of women and progress towards women’s de facto equality. It invites the State party, as necessary, to seek international assistance for the development of such data collection and analysis efforts. The Committee also requests the State party to include in its next report statistical data and analysis, disaggregated by sex and by rural and urban areas, indicating the impact of measures and the results achieved.

163. The Committee recommends that the State party avail itself of technical and financial assistance from the international community, as indicated in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, in order to facilitate implementation of the Convention.

164. The Committee encourages the State party to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

165. The Committee requests the State party to ensure the wide participation of all ministries and public bodies in, and to consult with non-governmental organizations during, the preparation of its next report. It encourages the State party to involve Parliament in a discussion of the report before its submission to the Committee.

166. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully, in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

167. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

168. The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Benin to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

169. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Benin of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Benin, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality of women, as well as the further steps that are required in that regard. The Committee requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

170. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to submit its fourth periodic report, due in April 2005, and its fifth periodic report, due in April 2009, in a combined report in April 2009.

Gambia

171.The Committee considered the combined initial, second and third periodic report of the Gambia (CEDAW/C/GMB/1-3) at its 697th and 698th meetings, on 15 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.697 and 698).

Introduction by the State party

172.In introducing the report, the representative of the State party drew attention to the significant progress achieved in the implementation of the Convention since its ratification in 1992. While stressing the State party’s political will and commitment to protecting the rights of women, eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and enhancing their social, political and economic status, there was still room for improvement.

173.Among the State party’s achievements was the inclusion of discrimination on the basis of sex in the 1997 Constitution, which corresponded to article 1 of the Convention, and of provisions concerning equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities.

174.Structures had been put in place to empower women and to advise the Government on women’s issues, including the National Women’s Bureau and Council, and the Department of State for Women’s Affairs under the Office of the Vice-President, as well as a gender cabinet subcommittee and a gender technical committee. A gender focal point network consisting of representatives of key government departments and civil society organizations had been established. Parliament had set up a select committee on women and children.

175.The 1999 National Policy for the Advancement of Gambian Women was being implemented and progress had been registered in particular in the areas of education, health and economic development. Girl-friendly schools and free State primary schools had been established to encourage the education of girls and enhance their access to employment in the long term. The national health policy launched in 2001 aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality, and an increased number of communities had become eligible for primary health-care services. Efforts of the Government had resulted in the decline of maternal mortality rates from 1,050 to 730 per 100,000 live births between 1990 and 2001 and of infant mortality rates from 92 to 84 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2001. Use of modern contraceptives had also increased.

176.Women contributed greatly to the economic life of the country, as the main producers of rice and being engaged in horticultural activities and the marine sector. Efforts in support of rural women included programmes in the areas of functional literacy, enterprise development, skills training and microfinance as a means of poverty alleviation. Rural women were increasingly becoming involved in the groundnut marketing and trade sectors, and accessed information and communication technologies through community radio stations and media telecommunication centres.

177.In the previous five years, women had, for the first time, been elected as village heads (alkalos) in the rural administrative structure, where 15 women had been elected to area councils. At the national level, six women now served in the National Assembly. Women were also represented at the highest level of the executive, with the Vice-President of the Republic being the first and longest-serving female Vice-President in Africa.

178.The representative also drew attention to the Children’s Act 2005, which contained specific provisions against trafficking of children, child marriages, child betrothal and harmful traditional practices.

179.The representative recognized that there was room for improvement and much remained to be done in relation to cultural patterns that discriminated against women, and in respect of achieving attitudinal change.

180.In concluding, the representative reaffirmed the political will and commitment of the Government to fulfilling its obligations in relation to all the provisions of the Convention and reiterated the delegation’s willingness to participate in a constructive dialogue.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

181.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Convention without reservations and expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined initial, second and third periodic report, which had, however, been long overdue. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation and further clarifications offered in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

182.The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, headed by the Secretary of State for Fisheries and Water Resources and composed of representatives of the national machinery for the advancement of women. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

183.The Committee commends the State party for having incorporated in its Constitution the principle of non-discrimination against women, as well as provisions to accord women equal rights with men in respect of nationality.

184.The Committee expresses satisfaction with the adoption, in June 2005, of the Children’s Act, aimed at promoting equality between boys and girls.

185.The Committee welcomes the creation of the National Women’s Council, the National Women’s Bureau, and the Department of State for Women’s Affairs under the Office of the Vice-President, and the setting up of a gender focal point network consisting of representatives of key government departments and civil society organizations.

186.The Committee welcomes the progress made in women’s political representation, especially the appointment of a woman as Vice-President of the country, and three women ministers, and the election, for the first time, at the most recent elections, of five women alkalos (village heads).

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

187.The Committee is concerned that, although the Convention was ratified in 1993, it has not yet been fully incorporated into Gambian law. It notes with concern that, without such full incorporation, the Convention’s provisions are not justiciable and enforceable in the Gambian courts.

188. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on completing the process of full incorporation of the Convention in national legislation. It calls upon the State party to ensure that the Convention and related domestic legislation are made an integral part of legal education and the training of judicial officers, including judges, lawyers and prosecutors, so as to firmly establish in the country a legal culture supportive of women’s equality and non-discrimination.

189.The Committee is concerned that the Constitution explicitly exempts from prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender the areas governing personal status, particularly with regard to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial and devolution of property on death, in contravention of articles 2 and 16 of the Convention, resulting in continuing discrimination against women. The Committee also expresses concern about the widespread practice of polygamy.

190. The Committee calls upon the State party to amend section 33 (5) of its 1997 Constitution, which explicitly exempts from prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender the areas governing personal status, particularly with regard to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial and devolution of property on death. It urges the State party to accelerate its efforts towards the revision of discriminatory legislation so as to bring it into compliance with articles 2 and 16 of the Convention. The Committee also calls upon the State party to implement measures aimed at eliminating polygamy, as called for in the Committee’s general recommendation 21 on equality in marriage and family relations.

191.The Committee expresses concern about the persistence of strong patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in society, which are discriminatory against women. The Committee is concerned that the persistence of such discriminatory cultural practices and traditional attitudes perpetuates women’s subordination in the family and society and produces serious obstacles to women’s enjoyment of their human rights. The Committee regrets that no systematic action has been taken by the State party to modify or eliminate negative harmful cultural practices and stereotypes that discriminate against women.

192. The Committee urges the State party to view culture as a dynamic aspect of the country’s social fabric and life, and subject, therefore, to change. It urges the State party to introduce measures without delay to modify or eliminate negative harmful cultural practices and stereotypes that discriminate against women, in conformity with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. It urges the State party to undertake such efforts in collaboration with civil society organizations, women’s groups and community leaders, as well as teachers and the media. It invites the State party to design and implement comprehensive education and awareness-raising programmes targeting women and men at all levels of society, with a view to creating an enabling environment for the transformation of discriminatory stereotypes and allowing women to exercise their rights under the Convention.

193.The Committee expresses concern about the lack of legislation, policies and programmes to address violence against women, including domestic violence. The Committee also expresses its concern about the paucity of information and sex-disaggregated data in the report on violence against women. The Committee is further concerned about the lack of social awareness on the issue of violence against women and girls in the country.

194. The Committee requests the State party to adopt comprehensive measures to address violence against women and girls in accordance with its general recommendation 19. The Committee urges the State party to enact legislation on violence against women, including domestic violence, as soon as possible and to ensure that women and girls who are victims of any form of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection, as well as access to counselling services, and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished. The Committee calls upon the State party to collect sex-disaggregated data on all forms of violence against women and undertake research into the extent of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence. The Committee requests the State party to provide information in its next report on the laws and policies put in place to address violence against women and the impact of such measures. The Committee recommends the implementation of training for law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health providers, social workers and the general public so as to ensure that they are sensitized to all forms of violence against women and can adequately respond to it. It also recommends the implementation of awareness-raising campaigns, through the media and public education programmes, and working towards a zero-tolerance policy on all forms of violence against women.

195.The Committee expresses concern at the high incidence of female genital mutilation in the country and at the lack of legislation, policies and programmes aimed at eradicating that practice.

196. The Committee urges the State party to adopt and adequately implement legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation, and to ensure that offenders are adequately prosecuted and punished. It also recommends that the State party develop a plan of action, including public awareness-raising campaigns, targeted at both women and men, with the support of civil society, to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation.

197.The Committee expresses concern at the limited information provided in the report on the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls in the Gambia, and on measures taken to combat these phenomena effectively. The Committee is particularly concerned about the phenomenon of sex tourism in the country.

198. The Committee requests the State party to introduce legislation on the prohibition of trafficking, to implement effectively legislation on the exploitation of the prostitution of women and to prosecute offenders. It recommends that the State party put in place programmes for promoting women’s economic independence so as to eliminate their vulnerability to exploitation, and measures for the rehabilitation and social reintegration of women and girls who are victims of exploitation and trafficking. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure the implementation of the 2003 Tourism Offence Act and to enhance cooperation with tourists’ countries of origin aimed at preventing and combating sex tourism. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, comprehensive information and data on sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls, and on measures taken to prevent and combat such activities, including sex tourism.

199.While acknowledging the increase in women’s political representation, the Committee remains concerned about the low level of representation of women in public and political life and in decision-making positions, including in the foreign service.

200. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to accelerate the increase in the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of public and political life and at all levels.

201.The Committee is concerned about the low participation of women in the labour market, especially in decision-making positions. It also notes with concern that the report did not include sufficient information and up-to-date data on the situation of women in the labour market, particularly in the informal sector. It also regrets that the report did not include information on legislation aimed at eliminating sex discrimination in the labour market.

202. The Committee urges the State party to ensure equal opportunity for women and men in the labour market through, inter alia, the use of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, detailed information on the situation of women in the formal and informal sectors of the labour market, including the percentage of women, as compared with men, in the various sectors of the economy, and their respective wages, as well as information on legislation to guarantee equality of rights between women and men in the labour market, and its effective implementation.

203.While recognizing the progress made in lowering maternal mortality from 1,050 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 730 per 100,000 live births in 2001, and infant mortality from 92 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 84 live births in 2001, the Committee remains concerned that these rates continue to be very high. The Committee is particularly concerned about the lack of access of women to adequate prenatal and post-natal care.

204. The Committee recommends that the State party make every effort to decrease the high maternal and infant mortality rates, and increase women’s access to health services, including health-care facilities and medical assistance by trained personnel, especially with regard to prenatal and post-natal care. It also calls upon the State party to implement awareness-raising campaigns to enhance women’s knowledge of health issues.

205.The Committee expresses concern about the high rates of malnutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS affecting women and girls in the country. The Committee is further concerned that women lack access to information and services related to reproductive health and that, although contraceptive use increased from 6.7 per cent in 1990 to 13.4 per cent in 2001, it continues to remain low. The Committee regrets that women’s access to family planning services is, in general, dependent on several social and cultural factors.

206. The Committee recommends the implementation of comprehensive policies and programmes to prevent and combat malnutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The Committee calls upon the State party to implement measures to guarantee effective access for women, including young women, to reproductive health-care information and services. It further recommends that programmes and policies be adopted to increase knowledge about, and access to, affordable contraceptive methods and to increase the understanding that family planning is the responsibility of both partners. It also encourages the State party to ensure that women have easy access to family planning services. The Committee also recommends that sex education be widely promoted and provided, targeting men and women, and adolescent boys and girls, and including information on the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

207.While noting the efforts made by the State party to revise its policy on education in order to address the needs of the girl child, the Committee expresses its concern about the low enrolment of girls in school, especially at the secondary and higher levels, and their high dropout rates. The Committee is particularly concerned that, according to the 1993 census, only 27 per cent of women in the Gambia are literate and that in the rural areas the proportion is only 18.3 per cent.

208. The Committee urges the State party to take measures on the importance of realizing women’s and girls’ right to education as a fundamental human right, including for the empowerment of women. It also calls upon the State party to strengthen measures to create an environment that increases the enrolment and retention rates of girls in school at all levels, including through the development of gender-sensitive educational material. The Committee calls upon the State party to step up its efforts to eradicate female illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, including through comprehensive education programmes at the formal and non-formal levels, as well as programmes specifically targeting adult women. The Committee encourages the State party to use temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, in order to accelerate the improvement of women’s and girls’ education.

209.While welcoming the adoption of the Children’s Act, which includes provisions against child marriage and child betrothal, the Committee expresses concern about the high incidence of early marriage in the country.

210. The Committee urges the State party to ensure the implementation of the Children’s Act and to undertake awareness-raising measures throughout the country on the negative effects of early marriage on women’s enjoyment of their human rights, especially the rights to health and education.

211.The Committee is concerned about the situation of rural women, many of whom live in extreme poverty and lack access to health care, education, vocational training, credit facilities and income-generation opportunities. It is particularly concerned that the State has not yet designed a gender-sensitive rural development strategy.

212. The Committee urges the State party to design and implement a gender-sensitive rural development strategy. It calls upon the State party to ensure that rural women can participate fully in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in rural areas. It urges the State party to ensure that rural women and girls have full access to health-care services, education and vocational training, as well as credit facilities and income-generating opportunities.

213.The Committee regrets that the report does not provide sufficient updated statistical data disaggregated by sex on the situation of women in all areas covered by the Convention or information on the impact of measures taken and the results achieved.

214. The Committee calls upon the State party to put in place a comprehensive system of data collection and of measurable indicators to assess trends in the situation of women and of progress towards women’s de facto equality. It invites the State party, as necessary, to seek international assistance for the development of such data collection and analysis efforts. The Committee also requests the State party to include in its next report statistical data and analysis, disaggregated by sex and by rural and urban areas, indicating the impact of measures and the results achieved.

215. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

216. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

217. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

218.The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments1 enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of the Gambia to consider ratifying the treaties to which it is not yet a party, namely, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

219. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Gambia of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of the Gambia, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

220. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in May 2006.

4.Third periodic report

Israel

221.The Committee considered the third periodic report of Israel (CEDAW/C/ISR/3) at its 685th and 686th meetings, on 6 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.685 and 686).

Introduction by the State party

222.In introducing the report and up-to-date information, the representative of Israel indicated that these were the result of a collaborative effort by various government bodies, together with inputs from non-governmental organizations. Equality and the promotion of women’s rights were of the utmost importance to the Government and society. The representative emphasized that Israeli women were a vibrant, vocal, integral part of every aspect of society, which they shaped and took part in as members of every profession. Drawing attention to progress in many areas, the representative noted remaining gaps still to be addressed. Since the submission of the previous report, concerted efforts had been made, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to promote equality between men and women, Jews and non-Jews of all ethnic and religious backgrounds alike. The representative emphasized that Israeli women awaited the day when they and Palestinian women, especially under the new Palestinian leadership, would no longer know the grief of loss but only the joy of equality, building and progress.

223.Efforts to eliminate discrimination against women in the legislative arena had been wide-ranging. Recent laws complemented one another, representing a new approach of “women’s legislation”. These laws covered a variety of issues, including women’s equal rights, sexual harassment, stalking, governmental responsibility for gender equality, the rights of women victims and prevention of discrimination in the private sector. They provided a broad vision of social change and complete transformation of gender power and relations. Measures had also been taken to guarantee implementation.

224.The Government had taken steps, including affirmative action, to eliminate discrimination against women, for example by supporting the integration of single mothers into the labour market. The courts continued to play a crucial role in promoting women’s rights. Recent court decisions had approved governmental affirmative action measures in funding women’s sports activities, secured women’s equal retirement rights and granted a battered wife punitive damages for abuse suffered.

225.The representative stressed that combined efforts were necessary to eliminate discrimination against women, as demonstrated by action taken by the legislative, judicial and executive branches, in cooperation with civil society, to combat trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. This included the amendment of the Penal Code to include a prohibition against trafficking in persons for purposes of prostitution, followed by the establishment of the Parliamentary Investigative Committee on Trafficking in Persons. That Committee interacted with victims and exercised an oversight function with government agencies. Its work had resulted in further legislative progress, including mandatory minimum imprisonment for violations of the law and expansion of victims’ rights. Additionally, an intra-ministerial committee had been established to recommend measures, which had been adopted and implemented, to combat trafficking more effectively. Law enforcement and the prosecution of traffickers had been enhanced and courts had been issuing more severe sentences and interpreted the law in accordance with the spirit of relevant international treaties. Operational guidelines issued by the Attorney General on combating trafficking had been implemented. Shelters provided medical and psychosocial treatment and free legal aid to trafficking victims. Cooperative arrangements were in place, including with the International Organization for Migration and non-governmental organizations, to arrange for victims’ safe return to countries of origin and to initiate rehabilitation processes.

226.Turning to measures taken in response to some of the Committee’s concerns expressed in its previous concluding comments, the representative noted the growing number of women in prestigious positions within the Israel Defense Forces and the establishment, in 1998, of the statutory Authority for the Advancement of Women. The Knesset Committee on the Status of Women had also played a pivotal role in women’s issues. Women’s representation in political life had progressed, with 18 members, or 15 per cent, in the Knesset — the highest rate ever, three ministers, four deputy ministers and five director-generals of ministries.

227.Addressing another of the Committee’s concerns, the representative drew attention to the substantial rise in Bedouin students taking matriculation exams and receiving baccalaureates. More Bedouin women than men were studying for Bachelor’s degrees. Steps were being taken to increase the number of Bedouin women admitted to the faculty of medicine, while the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports granted scholarships to Bedouin students and had taken steps to increase attendance and prevent dropout.

228.In conclusion, the representative stressed that the delegation, consisting of high-ranking officials from the relevant ministries, was prepared to engage in a constructive and fruitful dialogue with the Committee on the implementation of the Convention.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

229.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its third periodic report, which is in compliance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation.

230.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation, made up of representatives of different ministries with responsibility for several areas of the Convention.

231.The Committee notes that Israel continues to retain its reservations to articles 7 (b) and 16 of the Convention.

Positive aspects

232.The Committee notes with appreciation the significant law reform, undertaken since its consideration of the State party’s combined initial and second report (CEDAW/C/ISR/1-2) in 1997, aimed at the promotion of gender equality and elimination of discrimination against women and at achieving compliance with the obligations under the Convention, including amendments to the Women’s Equal Rights Law, the Employment of Women Law (Amendment 19), the Prevention of Violence in the Family Law and the Civil Service Law (Appointments) and enactment of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law (1998), the Victims of Offences Rights Law (2001), the Prevention of Stalking Law (2001) and the Local Councils Law (Adviser on the Status of Women) (2000).

233.The Committee welcomes the establishment of the Authority for the Advancement of Women in 1998.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

234. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on action taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to the Knesset so as to ensure their full implementation.

235.The Committee is concerned that the State party has not taken adequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to some concerns raised in its previous concluding comments adopted in 1997 (A/52/38/Rev.1, part two, paras. 147-183). In particular, the Committee finds that its concerns reflected in paragraphs 170, 171 and 173 have been insufficiently addressed.

236. The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to proceed without delay with the implementation of the recommendations.

237.The Committee is concerned that the right to equality between women and men and the prohibition of both direct and indirect discrimination against women has not been reflected in the Constitution or in a basic law.

238. The Committee recommends that a definition of discrimination in line with article 1 of the Convention, as well as provisions on the equal rights of women in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention, be included in the new Constitution that is in the process of being drafted, or in a basic law.

239.The Committee is concerned that only some provisions of the Convention have been incorporated into the domestic legal order. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of mechanisms to monitor and ensure the compatibility of domestic laws with the State party’s obligations under the Convention.

240. The Committee urges the State party to fully incorporate the provisions of the Convention into its legal order and regularly assess the compatibility of its domestic laws with its obligations under the Convention. The Committee recommends that the State party implement training and awareness-raising programmes to familiarize judges, prosecutors and other members of the legal profession with the provisions of the Convention.

241.The Committee is aware that the persistence of conflict and violence hinders the full implementation of the Convention and notes that recently steps have been taken towards its resolution. In this regard, the Committee welcomes the draft law on women in peacemaking, which will require 25 per cent participation of women in the peacemaking process.

242. The Committee encourages the State party to continue its efforts towards conflict resolution and to fully involve all women concerned in all stages of the peace process.

243.The Committee regrets the State party’s position that the Convention does not apply beyond its own territory and, for that reason, the State party refuses to report on the status of implementation of the Convention in the Occupied Territories, although the delegation acknowledged that the State party had certain responsibilities. The Committee further regrets that the delegation did not respond to questions by the Committee concerning the situation of women in the Occupied Territories. The Committee notes that the State party’s view that the Convention is not applicable in the Occupied Territories is contrary to the views of the Committee and of other treaty bodies, including the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee against Torture, and also of the International Court of Justice, which have all noted that obligations under international human rights conventions as well as humanitarian law apply to all persons brought under the jurisdiction or effective control of a State party and have stressed the applicability of the State party’s obligations under international human rights conventions to the Occupied Territories.

244. The Committee urges the State party to reconsider its position and to give full effect to the implementation of its obligations under the Convention in regard to all persons under its jurisdiction, including women in the Occupied Territories, and to provide in its next periodic report detailed information on the enjoyment by all women, including, if still relevant, women living in the Occupied Territories, of their rights under the Convention.

245.The Committee remains concerned that the State party continues to retain its reservations to articles 7 (b) and 16 of the Convention. The Committee is particularly concerned at the State party’s statement that such reservations are “unavoidable at this point in time” and its position that laws based on religious values cannot be reformed.

246. The Committee urges the State party to consider withdrawing its reservations to articles 7 (b) and 16, which are contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention.

247.While welcoming the establishment of the Authority for the Advancement of Women as an important measure towards strengthening the national mechanism for the advancement of women, the Committee is concerned that the Authority may not have sufficient power, visibility and human and financial resources for the effective promotion of the advancement of women and gender equality.

248. The Committee calls on the State party to strengthen the Authority for the Advancement of Women. In particular, it calls on the State party to ensure that the Authority is provided with the power, location within the executive branch of Government and necessary human and financial resources to enable it to carry out effectively the promotion of the advancement of women and gender equality throughout all sectors of government.

249.While appreciating the State party’s efforts to address the issue of trafficking in women and girls, including ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2000 and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children in 2001, the establishment of a Parliamentary Investigative Committee on trafficking of women and an amendment to the Penal Law prohibiting trafficking, the Committee is concerned that domestic legislation has not been brought into conformity with international obligations. While noting that a bill to broaden the definition of trafficking is under preparation, the Committee is concerned that the current definition of trafficking in the Penal Law addresses trafficking only for prostitution and bondage and does not cover trafficking for other forms of exploitation. The Committee also expresses concern about the lack of a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate trafficking in women and to protect victims, as well as the lack of systematic data collection on this phenomenon.

250. The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to combat all forms of trafficking in women and girls, including by expanding the provision in the Penal Code to bring it into line with the definition contained in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. The Committee also urges the State party to increase its efforts at international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin and transit so as to address more effectively the causes of trafficking and improve prevention of trafficking through information exchange. The Committee urges the State party to continue to collect and analyse data from the police and international sources, prosecute and punish traffickers, and ensure the protection of the human rights of trafficked women and girls. The Committee further calls on the State party to take all appropriate measures to suppress exploitation of prostitution of women, including discouraging the male demand for prostitution. The Committee calls on the State party to ensure that trafficked women and girls have adequate support to be in a position to provide testimony against their traffickers.

251.While noting the increase in the number of women in the Knesset, the Committee remains concerned about the low level of representation of women in decision-making positions in local authorities. It is also concerned that the number of women in high-level positions in the civil service and foreign service remains low. The Committee is further concerned about the low level of representation of Israeli Arab women in these areas.

252. The Committee encourages the State party to take sustained measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, and to establish concrete goals and timetables so as to accelerate the increase in the representation of women, including Israeli Arab women, in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of public life.

253.The Committee is concerned about the State party’s temporary suspension order of May 2002, enacted into law as the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) of 31 July 2003, which suspends the possibility, subject to limited and subjective exceptions, of family reunification, especially in cases of marriages between an Israeli citizen and a person residing in the Occupied Territories. The Committee notes with concern that the suspension order, which has been extended until the end of August 2005, has already adversely affected the marriages and family life of Israeli Arab women citizens and Palestinian women from the Occupied Territories.

254. The Committee calls on the State party to balance its security interests with the human rights of persons affected by such policies, and to reconsider them with a view to facilitating family reunification of all citizens and permanent residents. It calls on the State party to bring the Nationality and Entry into Israel law (Temporary Order) of 31 July 2003 into line with articles 9 and 16 of the Convention. It requests the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, detailed statistical information and analysis of the short- and long-term impact of this Order on affected women.

255.While appreciating the progress made in the fields of women’s education and health, the Committee is concerned that Israeli Arab women remain in a vulnerable and marginalized situation, especially in regard to education and health. While efforts have been made to eliminate gender stereotypes from textbooks, the Committee is concerned that these persist in the Arab education system.

256. The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent measures to reduce the drop-out rates of Israeli Arab girls and increase the number of Israeli Arab women at institutions of higher education, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25. The Committee also urges the State party to review and revise textbooks in the Arab education system in order to eradicate gender stereotypes. The Committee recommends that the State party allocate adequate resources to improve the status of Israeli Arab women’s health, in particular with regard to infant mortality, and to provide in its next periodic report a comprehensive picture of the situation of Israeli Arab women.

257.The Committee is concerned about the number of incidents at Israeli checkpoints which have a negative impact on the rights of Palestinian women, including the right of access to health-care services for pregnant women.

258. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that the Israeli authorities at the checkpoints are instructed to ensure access to health-care services for pregnant women, while protecting the security of Israel.

259.The Committee is concerned that Bedouin women living in the Negev desert remain in a vulnerable and marginalized situation, especially in regard to education, employment and health. The Committee is especially concerned about the situation of Bedouin women who live in unrecognized villages with poor housing conditions and limited or no access to water, electricity and sanitation.

260. The Committee requests the State party to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination against Bedouin women and to enhance respect for their human rights through effective and proactive measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, in the fields of education, employment and health. The Committee calls upon the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, a comprehensive picture of the situation of Bedouin women and girls in regard to their educational opportunities and achievements, and access to employment and health-care services, and to provide an assessment of the impact of policies in those areas that directly affect them.

261.The Committee is concerned by the State party’s assertion that it is not in a position to implement the law prohibiting polygamy and enforce the minimum age of marriage owing to respect for the privacy rights of persons engaging in such practices. The Committee is further concerned that petitions for the under-age marriage of girls are regularly granted.

262. The Committee urges the State party to take active measures to enforce the prohibition of polygamy and enforce adherence to the minimum age of marriage. The Committee recommends that the State party take comprehensive and effective measures, including public awareness-raising campaigns, aimed at eliminating the practices of polygamy and early-age marriage.

263. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

264. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully, in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

265. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

266.The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments1 enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Israel to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

267. The Committee requests the wide dissemination of the present concluding comments in order to make all people, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

268. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in November 2008.

5.Combined third, fourth, fifth and sixth periodic report

Guyana

269.The Committee considered the combined third, fourth, fifth and sixth periodic report of Guyana (CEDAW/C/GUY/3-6) at its 689th and 690th meetings, on 8 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.689 and 690).

Introduction by the State party

270.In introducing the report, the representative of Guyana noted that her Government accorded high priority to fully implementing national and international legal instruments to achieve the important objective of gender equity. Its efforts for the past four years had resulted in the passage of legislation to ensure that women enjoyed all their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the improvement of mechanisms aimed at the elimination of violence against women and the eradication of the feminization of poverty and to improve the standard of living of aged, rural and indigenous women.

271.A stated goal was the development of a “critical cadre of women” in key political and decision-making positions at all levels. Currently, 30.7 per cent of parliamentarians were women and in Regional Democratic Councils women’s representation had grown to 30 per cent. While success was acknowledged, challenges to progress persisted, such as patriarchal norms and stereotypical and discriminatory cultural practices towards women, a huge debt burden, unfavourable terms of trade for commodities and inadequate financial resources. Women’s qualitative representation in decision-making was of concern and measures were being put in place to empower women to fulfil their mandates with confidence and assertiveness.

272.The representative informed the Committee that the Women and Gender Equality Commission, under the Human Rights Commission, had superseded the National Commission on Women and would shortly commence operations. This new body would, inter alia, monitor the implementation of the Convention and track the status of women. The role of the Women’s Affairs Bureau within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security had been expanded and its resources, both human and financial, had been increased, thereby enabling acceleration of the implementation of its programme of activities across the country. Its reach had been extended through Regional Women’s Affairs Officers, who monitored programmes and projects of Regional Women’s Affairs Committees in all administrative regions. Moreover, the Bureau had established the Inter-Ministry Committee, composed of senior personnel in the public service, through which it monitored gender mainstreaming and gender equity in the ministries.

273.The new National Policy on Women would inform the National Plan of Action for Women, which was in the process of being updated — a process involving broad-based consultations with civil society, including women in rural and hinterland communities. It would take a comprehensive approach to critical issues affecting women, such as health, education, employment, leadership, gender-based violence, trafficking in persons and HIV/AIDS. The National Plan of Action for Women would also articulate strategies to ensure that development policies are designed to ensure gender equity and the removal of all forms of discrimination.

274.Maternal and child health services had been upgraded and substantial advances had been made in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality rates as well as the incidence of malnutrition. The representative described the holistic and multifaceted approach to HIV/AIDS that had been adopted to deal with the steady increase in the proportion of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. She also noted the major concerns and challenges to women posed by cancer. Guyana’s health system was not yet equipped to treat cancer patients fully to completion of their treatment. However, it was underscored that the Government subsidized the treatment of cancer patients overseas and was involved in ongoing discussions with private partners to establish a full range of cancer diagnosis and treatment locally.

275.The Government had taken a more gender-sensitive approach to education and had introduced health, family life education and human rights education in the curricula. Efforts to address gender imbalances at tertiary-level technical and vocational schools were being made and special attention was being given to educational programmes in rural and hinterland areas. The Government had been sensitive to the specific needs of women in remote hinterland areas when addressing the issue of women and poverty.

276.The representative indicated that there had been some positive developments in the area of violence against women. Examples included the appointment and authorization of social workers to represent victims of violence in court and the establishment of a National Task Force on Gender-based Violence. The link between trafficking in persons and violence against women was recognized and was being addressed under a comprehensive Plan of Action. To date, a series of measures had been undertaken, including the enactment of the Trafficking in Persons Act No. 2 of 2005, public awareness-raising and the establishment of victim protection programmes.

277.In conclusion, the representative noted the increasing recognition that gender equity was a prerequisite for eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development and that progress needed to be accelerated and expanded in order to break the cycle of poverty, violence and residual gender-based discrimination. The Government would work together with the private sector, non-governmental organizations and the public to further this goal and move forward in partnership on the issues of concern to women.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

278.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined third, fourth, fifth and sixth periodic report, for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation and further clarifications in response to the questions posed by the Committee.

279.The Committee welcomes the State party’s high-level delegation, which was headed by the Minister of Labour, Human Resources and Social Security, and appreciates the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

280.The Committee notes with satisfaction that through the constitutional reform undertaken in 2001, all international human rights instruments, including the Convention are incorporated into domestic legislation.

281.The Committee notes the establishment, through the constitutional amendment of 2001, of the Women and Gender Equality Commission, which falls under the umbrella of the Human Rights Commission. In this regard, the Committee welcomes the recent appointment of the members of the Commission, thus allowing it to start functioning.

282.The Committee commends the State party for the adoption of the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act No. 2 of 2005 and the formulation and launching of the National Plan of Action to eliminate trafficking in persons in 2004.

283.The Committee welcomes the intention of the Women’s Bureau to develop gender-responsive indicators to assess the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy paper.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

284. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation with respect to the systematic and continuing implementation of all provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and to report on actions taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

285.The Committee is concerned that the State party has taken inadequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to most of the concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments adopted in 2001 (see A/56/38 part two, paras. 162-184) and that, consequently, insufficient progress has been achieved towards the practical realization of the principle of equality of women and men called for in article 2 of the Convention.

286. The Committee reiterates the concerns and recommendations raised in the concluding comments adopted in 2001 and urges the State party to put in place comprehensive follow-up measures and provide information on progress achieved in the next report.

287.The Committee notes with concern that, although the Constitution refers to the principle of equality, the term most commonly used in government plans, programmes and official statements is “equity”, which the State party considers to mean “substantive” or de facto equality as required under the Convention.

288. The Committee urges the State party to take note that the terms “equity” and “equality” are not synonymous or interchangeable and can lead to conceptual confusion. The Convention is directed towards eliminating discrimination against women and ensuring de jure and de facto (formal and substantive) equality between women and men. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party use the term “equality” henceforth.

289.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of discriminatory legal provisions, particularly the Criminal Law (Offences) Act provision which makes it a criminal act for a girl of 16 years to have sexual intercourse with a relative such as a grandfather or brother and making her liable to imprisonment for up to seven years; and the Married Persons Property Act that prevents non-working spouses from acquiring the same rights in matters of division of property and disproportionately affects women.

290. The Committee urges the State party to undertake comprehensive legal reform in accordance with its obligations under the Convention and, in particular, to eliminate discriminatory provisions without delay in the Criminal Law (Offenses) Act and civil law so as to ensure full compliance with articles 2 and 16 of the Convention. The Committee requests the State party to provide the necessary support to the Women and Gender Equality Commission so that it may place high priority on reviewing existing and future legislation for compliance with the provisions of the Convention and submitting recommendations for compliance with international instruments to which the State is a party.

291.While welcoming laws to eliminate discrimination against women, including the Equal Rights Act of 1990 and the Prevention of Discrimination Act of 1997, the Committee is concerned about the lack of systematic enforcement of existing legislation, of mechanisms to monitor and ensure compliance, and of effective remedies in case of breach. The Committee is also concerned about the insufficient availability of legal aid to women, in particular women living in rural areas and hinterlands; their lack of awareness about legislation aimed at eliminating discrimination against women; and continuing reluctance, or inability of women to seek legal redress in cases of discrimination.

292. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen its efforts to protect women against any act of discrimination, including strengthening existing complaints mechanisms such as the Ombudsman and Chief Labour Officer, and putting in place sanctions for acts of discrimination against women. The Committee further urges the State party to ensure full compliance by public authorities and institutions with legislation aimed at prevention of discrimination against women, increase the availability of legal aid to women in all parts of the country and sensitize the judiciary and law enforcement personnel to gender equality issues. The Committee urges the State party to take special measures to enhance women’s awareness of their rights and legal literacy so that they can better avail themselves of available remedies and mechanisms of redress against violations of their rights under the Convention.

293.The Committee regrets the lack of data disaggregated by sex in regard to many of the provisions of the Convention, including all forms of violence against women.

294. The Committee requests that the State party provide sufficient data disaggregated by sex, and over time, in its next report so that a clear picture of progress and obstacles in the implementation of all the provisions of the Convention can emerge.

295.The Committee is concerned that it did not obtain a clear picture of the mandates and responsibilities of, and coordination among, the Women’s Affairs Bureau, the National Commission on Women, the Women and Gender Equality Commission and Regional Women’s Desks, as well as the human and financial resources available to these mechanisms. The Committee also remains concerned about the limited capacity of the national machinery for the advancement of women to support implementation of the gender-mainstreaming strategy in all public institutions.

296. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its national machinery for the advancement of women, clearly define the mandate and responsibilities of its various components, and enhance coordination among them. It calls on the State party to provide the national machinery with adequate decision-making power and human and financial resources to work effectively for the promotion of women’s human rights at all levels. The Committee recommends that the State party enhance the use of the gender-mainstreaming strategy in all policies and programmes through gender training and the creation of focal points with sufficient expertise in gender equality issues.

297.Noting the completion of a new National Policy on Women and the ongoing process of updating the National Action Plan for Women, which will cover the period 2005-2007, the Committee is concerned that no assessment or impact analysis has been conducted of past policies, programmes and action plans on gender equality and that, therefore, necessary corrective measures may not be adequately reflected in the new action plan.

298. The Committee urges the State party to undertake an assessment of its past policies and programmes on gender equality with a view to identifying shortcomings, gaps and lack of progress, and use this assessment to inform the formulation of the new plan. It calls on the State party to monitor systematically the implementation of its new gender equality policies and programmes, to assess their impact and the extent to which stated goals are achieved, and undertake corrective measures whenever necessary. The Committee encourages the State party to reflect explicitly the provisions of the Convention as well as the Committee’s concluding comments and the programmatic steps outlined in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforces the provisions of the Convention, in the National Action Plan 2005-2007 so as to ensure a comprehensive approach to the promotion of legal and substantive gender equality. It requests the State party to include information on the impact of policies and plans in its next periodic report.

299.The Committee is concerned that the purpose of temporary special measures, as called for under article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, may not be widely understood in the State party and that such measures, which aim at accelerating de facto equality as well as programmes and policies targeted specifically at women, may be considered as discriminating against men.

300. The Committee recommends that the State party, in its policies and programmes, clearly distinguish between general social and economic policies that also benefit women and temporary special measures under article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention that are necessary to accelerate the achievement of de facto equality for women in various areas, as clarified by the Committee in general recommendation 25. It also recommends that the State party implement information and awareness-raising campaigns on a regular basis on the content of, and obligations resulting from, the Convention and the general recommendations of the Committee, with particular focus on the role of legislators, policymakers, senior public officials, the judiciary and the legal profession. The Committee urges the State party to design, implement and strengthen awareness-raising measures to foster a better understanding of equality between women and men at all levels of society.

301.While noting the Domestic Violence Act of 1996, the Committee expresses concern about the insufficient measures to ensure its effective implementation; lack of an effective monitoring mechanism; and insufficient support measures for victims of domestic violence, such as shelters and legal, medical and psychological support. The Committee is also concerned that victims are reluctant to report cases of abuse for fear of being stigmatized. The Committee regrets that the State party provided only some information on domestic violence, but did not address other forms of violence against women.

302. In the light of its general recommendation 19, the Committee urges the State party to accord priority attention to the effective enforcement and monitoring of legislation on domestic violence to ensure that all women who are victims of violence, including Amerindian women and those living in rural and hinterland areas, have access to immediate means of redress and protection, including protection orders, legal aid and shelters in sufficient numbers. The Committee calls on the State party to provide adequate funding for such protection and support measures. The Committee requests the State party to strengthen its efforts to train the police and ensure that public officials, especially law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health-care providers and social workers, are fully sensitized to all forms of violence against women and adequately equipped to support victims of such violence. The Committee also calls on the State party to take measures, through the media and public education programmes, towards changing social, cultural and traditional attitudes that remain permissive of all forms of violence against women, including sexual violence against young girls. The Committee requests that the State party provide in its next report comprehensive information, including statistical information, on all forms of violence against women and measures to prevent and eradicate it.

303.The Committee recognizes the efforts of the Government to put in place comprehensive health structures. However, the Committee is concerned that women’s access to health services is not monitored and there is no data to establish the de facto impact of such measures.

304. The Committee recommends that a broad framework for health services in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on article 12, on women and health, be put in place and that access to them by women, especially Amerindian women and other women living in rural and hinterland areas, be monitored. It also recommends that the State party provide information on women’s access to health services in its next periodic report.

305.While welcoming the adoption of the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS 2002-2006, the Committee notes with concern the high and growing prevalence of HIV/AIDS among women, especially younger women, who are particularly vulnerable because of unequal power relations and limited socio-economic opportunities. The Committee is especially concerned that the low minimum age of sexual consent (13 years) puts young women and girls at particular risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation and infection with the virus.

306. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen attention to the gender dimensions in its efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It calls on the State party to increase its emphasis on men’s responsibilities in preventing the spread of the disease, including through awareness-raising and prevention campaigns, and the implementation of education programmes on sexual and reproductive health and rights directed at both women and men, including the provision of condoms. It also urges the State party to increase the minimum age of sexual consent to protect girls effectively against sexual exploitation.

307.While noting that women are disproportionately affected by poverty, and noting the existence of the National Development Strategy and a poverty reduction strategy paper, the Committee is disappointed that these policies insufficiently address the gender dimensions of poverty and do not target women specifically, notwithstanding the participation of women’s groups in consultations for their preparation. The Committee is especially concerned about the consequences of this omission for Amerindian women and women living in rural and hinterland areas.

308. The Committee urges the State party to make the promotion of gender equality an explicit component of its national development strategies, in particular those aimed at poverty alleviation and sustainable development. It encourages the State party to include programmes that target vulnerable groups of women, such as Amerindian women and poor women living in rural and hinterland areas. The Committee invites the State party to strengthen these policies so as to enhance compliance with the Convention, especially article 14 on rural women. It encourages the State party to place emphasis on implementation of the Convention and women’s human rights in all development cooperation programmes with international organizations and bilateral donors. It recommends that the State party channel resources available through the highly indebted poor countries initiative towards the empowerment of women, especially Amerindian women and women in rural and hinterland areas. It also requests the State party to provide in its next periodic report data on how women have benefited from the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy paper.

309. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

310. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

311. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

312.The Committee notes that States’ adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments1 enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Government of Guyana to consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

313. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Guyana of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Guyana, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

314. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in September 2006.

6.Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports

Burkina Faso

315.The Committee considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Burkina Faso (CEDAW/C/BFA/4-5) at its 695th and 696th meetings, held on 14 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.695 and 696).

Introduction by the State party

316.Introducing the report, the representative said that the Government of Burkina Faso, in conjunction with non-governmental organizations, associations and development partners, was working to consolidate the progress made in the area of gender equality in its domestic legislation.

317.On 19 May 2005, the National Assembly had adopted an act authorizing the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

318.The representative stated that policies for the advancement of women dealt with many issues, such as the fight against HIV/AIDS, rural development, communications, employment and work, health, education, the national policy for the advancement of women and the National Population Policy. In addition, Burkina Faso’s policy letter on sustainable human development addressed the situation of women.

319.Efforts to publicize the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the establishment of legal clinics and the revision of the content of school textbooks had led to a sea change in traditional social standards. In particular, existing laws had been strengthened in order to prohibit levirate, dowry, forced and early marriage and female genital mutilation.

320.Equality between men and women in the area of employment was enshrined in texts governing both the private and public sectors.

321.Although prostitution was illegal, it had taken on worrying proportions, owing mainly to impoverishment. The representative described the strategies implemented by the Government, in conjunction with the regions, to counter that phenomenon. She also detailed the policies introduced to combat trafficking in children, which was a growing problem.

322.With regard to education, the representative observed that disparities continued to exist between girls and boys in the school system. Fewer girls than boys were enrolled in school owing to the persistence of religious and customary practices, the overburdening of girls with housework and the lack of financial resources.

323.However, the adoption in 1999 of the 10-year basic education development plan had, particularly since 2002, led to a significant upswing in the net literacy rate owing to an increase in the number of local schools, financial assistance for parents and campaigns to promote girls’ enrolment. Literacy for women and girls who had dropped out of school or who had never been to school was a priority and efforts in that area had been successful owing to the spread of non-formal education centres.

324.Access to primary health care was a constant concern for the Government. Efforts were being made to ensure that reliable family planning was readily available throughout the country. The Government had also developed a plan to safeguard reproductive health products.

325.Measures had been introduced to promote women’s involvement in the agricultural sector, and the presence of women in organizations gave them the opportunity to take part in decision-making in rural areas.

326.Since 1990, marriage and family matters had been governed by the Individual and Family Code. Under the Code, monogamy was the preferred form of marriage, but polygamy was permitted under strict conditions designed to protect women’s rights. That type of union still existed and, in practice, was more common. Since the adoption of the Code, awareness-raising, information and training campaigns had been launched to promote monogamy and the issue had been incorporated into educational activities and vocational training. There was no discrimination towards either spouse in respect of the rights and obligations arising from marriage and divorce. Spouses enjoyed the same inheritance rights, the right to legal guardianship of minor children, the right to property and the right to remarry. However, retrograde practices still existed, to the particular detriment of widows since, in accordance with those practices, children belonged exclusively to their father.

327.In conclusion, the representative said that the Committee’s recommendations would be taken into consideration by the Government of Burkina Faso with a view to the effective implementation of the Convention.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

328.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined fourth and fifth periodic report. The Committee commends the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group and for the oral presentation which provided further information about the situation of women.

329.The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, headed by the Minister for the Advancement of Women and which included the Minister of Health and representatives of other ministries with responsibility for implementation of the Convention. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the frank and constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee and the further clarifications provided in response to the questions orally posed by the Committee.

Positive aspects

330.The Committee congratulates the State party for its recent legislative reforms and policy measures to empower women and to eliminate discrimination against them, including the amendment to the Labour Code (Act No. 033-2004/AN) to prohibit sexual harassment, the policy letter on sustainable human development which provides for a more active role for women in development and the policy letter on decentralized agricultural development which includes as one of its specific objectives the promotion of the role of women in the agricultural sector.

331.The Committee welcomes with satisfaction the fact that the State party signed in 2001, and is in the process of ratifying, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

332.The Committee welcomes the establishment of the National Committee to Combat Discrimination responsible for monitoring implementation of the Convention and of gender points of contact in all ministries.

333.The Committee commends the State party for its campaign against female genital mutilation, which has resulted in a significant decrease in this practice.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

334. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation for the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls upon the State party to focus on these areas in its implementation activities and to report on actions taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls upon the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to Parliament so as to ensure their full implementation.

335.The Committee is concerned that the State party has not taken adequate steps to implement the recommendations in regard to some concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments adopted in 2000 (see A/55/38, part one, paras. 265-286). In particular, the Committee finds that its recommendations in paragraphs 268 (to give priority to education of girls), 278 (to enforce women’s rights to property and provide women with access to credit) and 280 (to enforce labour laws to eliminate discrimination in employment) have been insufficiently addressed.

336. The Committee reiterates these concerns and recommendations and urges the State party to proceed without delay with their implementation.

337.The Committee is concerned about the lack of specific legislation to eliminate violence against women, including domestic violence. While the Committee notes the State party’s contention that victims of violence receive medical and legal services, it is concerned that the State party did not provide any details about such services, and their accessibility to women. The Committee further expresses concern about the paucity of information and statistics provided on the incidence of various forms of violence against women.

338. In accordance with its general recommendation 19, the Committee urges the State party to give high priority to putting in place comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls, recognizing that such violence is a form of discrimination against women and constitutes a violation of their human rights under the Convention. The Committee calls upon the State party to enact, as soon as possible, legislation on violence against women, including domestic violence, so as to ensure that violence against women constitutes a criminal offence, that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished. The Committee recommends that the State party also implement educational and awareness-raising measures aimed at law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health providers, social workers, community leaders and the general public, in order to ensure that they understand that all forms of violence against women are unacceptable. It also recommends the establishment of shelters and counselling services for victims of violence. The Committee requests the State party to provide information in its next report on the laws and policies in place to deal with violence against women and the impact of such measures. The Committee also requests the State party to provide details of services provided to victims of violence, including details about access to and the scope and effectiveness of the services.

339.While welcoming the Individual and Family Code, which provides for women’s equality with men in many respects in the areas of marriage, divorce and death and inheritance, the Committee is concerned about the persistence of several discriminatory provisions in the Code, particularly in relation to the minimum age of marriage, which is 17 years for girls and 20 years for boys, and the legality of polygamy under the Code.

340. The Committee urges the State party to accelerate the process of legal reform to raise the minimum age of marriage of girls and to prohibit polygamy in order to ensure compliance with articles 2 and 16 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 21 on equality in marriage and family relations.

341.While welcoming legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation, forced and early marriage, levirate and sororate, dowry and practices that prevent women from owning land and inheriting from their husbands, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing strong prevalence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes and of customs and traditions that discriminate against women, particularly women in rural areas, and constitute violations of their human rights. The Committee is concerned that these practices persist in contravention of the provisions of the Convention, as well as national legislation. The Committee is also concerned that women are not informed of remedies under relevant legislation.

342. The Committee calls upon the State party to take all necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Convention, the Individual and Family Code, the Penal Code and other laws in regard to harmful traditional or customary practices that violate women’s rights. The Committee recommends that these efforts be undertaken in combination with educational programmes designed to raise awareness and challenge discriminatory customs and traditions and stereotypic attitudes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women in the family and society, as required under articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. The Committee encourages the State party to undertake these efforts in collaboration with civil society and women’s and human rights organizations, and target women and men in all segments of society, including public officials at all levels of government and community and traditional leaders, as well as the general public. It also urges the State party to improve women’s access to remedies, including through awareness-raising efforts and measures to enhance women’s legal literacy.

343.While the Committee welcomes the adoption of a law to prevent and combat trafficking in children for purposes of exploitation of their labour, it is unclear that this legislation covers trafficking of children, especially girls, for sexual exploitation. The Committee is further concerned that similar measures have not been taken with respect to trafficking in women.

344. The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to combat trafficking in girls and women for sexual exploitation. The Committee recommends that the State party implement a national strategy to combat trafficking in girls and women, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders and measures aimed at improving the economic situation of girls and women so as to eliminate their vulnerability to traffickers, educational initiatives, social support measures and rehabilitation and reintegration measures for girls and women who have been victims of trafficking.

345.The Committee regrets that the combined fourth and fifth periodic report did not provide sufficient statistical data on the situation of women in all areas covered by the Convention. The Committee is concerned about the lack of information on the impact of measures taken and on results achieved in various areas of the Convention.

346. The Committee calls upon the State party to put in place a comprehensive system of data collection and assessment of trends in the situation of women. It encourages the State party to monitor, through measurable indicators, the impact of measures taken and progress achieved towards realization of women’s de facto equality. It invites the State party, as necessary, to seek international assistance for the development of such data collection and analysis efforts. The Committee also requests the State party to include in its next report statistical data and analysis on the situation of women, disaggregated by sex and by rural and urban areas, indicating the impact of measures and the results achieved in the practical realization of women’s de facto equality.

347.The Committee is concerned about the situation of rural women, particularly in view of their extreme poverty and lack of access to adequate nutrition and sanitation, health care, education and income-generating opportunities. This situation leads to multiple forms of discrimination against rural women. The Committee is also concerned about the absence of statistical information related to the situation of rural women.

348. The Committee urges the State party to pay special attention to the situation of rural women so as to enhance compliance with article 14 of the Convention. In particular, the Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that rural women have full access to education, health services and credit facilities, and can fully participate in decision-making processes. The Committee also urges the State party to implement provisions of the Agrarian and Land Reform that give women equal access to arable land and housing and provisions of the Individual and Family Code so as to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women with respect to ownership and inheritance of land. It also urges the State party to place emphasis on women’s human rights in all development cooperation programmes with international organizations and bilateral donors so as to address the socio-economic causes of discrimination against women and sociocultural causes of poverty of women, especially those affecting women in rural areas, through all available sources of support. The Committee urges the State party to put into operation the principle of gender equality as a key factor in eradicating poverty as outlined in the strategic and regional frameworks for poverty reduction. The Committee invites the State party to provide detailed statistical information in its next report about the impact on women of the implementation of the policy letters on sustainable human development, decentralized rural development and agricultural development and of the strategic and regional frameworks for poverty reduction.

349.While noting the efforts made by the State party to improve reproductive health care for women, including through subsidizing contraceptives, the Committee remains concerned about the limited access for women to adequate health-care services, including those related to family planning. It is particularly concerned about high rates of fertility, infant and maternal mortality, and death due to clandestine abortions, inadequate family planning services and low rates of contraceptive use. The Committee is further concerned that the report contained insufficient information on the impact of measures taken to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, and improve access to family planning services. The Committee is concerned about the limited information provided on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and trends in the spread of the epidemic.

350. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to improve women’s access to health care and health-related services and information, in accordance with article 12 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health. It calls upon the State party to improve the availability of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, with the aim also of preventing clandestine abortions. It encourages the State party to enhance the availability of contraceptive services. It further recommends that sex education be widely promoted and targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next report detailed statistical and analytical information on measures taken to improve women’s access to health-related services and information, including in regard to sexual and reproductive health and family planning, and the impact of these measures, in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health. The Committee calls upon the State party to carefully monitor, and to reflect in its next report, the implementation and results of the national plans to combat HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (2001-2005) and any follow-up programmes and strategies.

351.While noting the increase in the number of women in the National Assembly from three in 2000 to 13 in 2005, the Committee remains concerned about the low level of representation of women in public and political life and in decision-making positions, including in the foreign service. It notes with concern the absence of temporary special measures to increase women’s participation in political and public life, despite the Committee’s recommendation in paragraph 273 of its previous concluding comments (see A/55/38, part one).

352. The Committee urges the State party to implement temporary special measures, including quotas, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, and to establish concrete goals and timetables so as to increase the number of women in political and public life and in decision-making positions. The Committee also draws the State party’s attention to general recommendation 23 on the participation of women in public life and urges full implementation of the measures recommended therein.

353. The Committee encourages the State party to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

354. The Committee urges the State party to utilize fully in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

355. The Committee also emphasizes that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests the State party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.

356.The Committee commends the State party for having ratified the seven major international human rights instruments.1 The Committee notes that the State party’s adherence to the seven major international human rights instruments enhances the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life.

357. The Committee requests that the present concluding comments be widely disseminated in Burkina Faso, in French and in local languages, in order to make the people of Burkina Faso, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto, the Committee’s general recommendations and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

358. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in November 2008.

Ireland

359.The Committee considered Ireland’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report (CEDAW/C/IRL/4-5) at its 693rd and 694th meetings, on 13 July 2005 (see CEDAW/C/SR.693 and 694).

Introduction by the State party

360.In introducing the report, the representative emphasized the significance the State party attached to the Convention, its review process and the recommendations of the Committee. Major changes in the country included recent economic prosperity and related increases in spending on education, health and social welfare, and a surge in employment and immigration.

361.Women’s employment had increased considerably and stood at 56 per cent in 2004, aided by higher demand for labour, legislative changes in relation to parental leave, tax reform, the development and funding of a childcare infrastructure, and women’s education. While a gender pay gap persisted and measures had been taken towards its continuing reduction, there was no evidence of any discriminatory pay practices.

362.Owing to the increased focus on the education of girls, women now constituted the majority of graduates in many fields at the tertiary level, and girls outperformed boys at the national baccalaureate. The number of women in full-time education was higher than that of men. Despite those successes, women remained underrepresented in the engineering and technology sectors and in senior education management positions. Strategies and initiatives for increasing their numbers in those fields were under consideration, as were ways to support female teachers wishing to enter administrative and management roles.

363.Women were increasingly visible in decision-making forums, including the current and former Presidents, the Deputy Prime Minister, three Cabinet members and three of eight Supreme Court judges. Based on a recent decision by the Government, future nominations to State boards and committees would have to include both women and men so that the 40 per cent target could be met. Targets were also being pursued in the civil service. By law, 7 of the 15 members of the Irish Human Rights Commission were women. However, the number of women in decision-making positions remained significantly below desirable levels in many areas of the public and private sectors, including electoral politics. The Government has provided funding to political parties to increase the number of women candidates and representatives.

364.The National Anti-Poverty Strategy was in place and the National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion, 2003-2005, also aimed at reducing or eliminating consistent poverty for women by 2007 and improving their access to health care, education and employment. Particular emphasis was placed on community-based initiatives that would enable disadvantaged women to move out of poverty. Traveller women as a group were particularly affected by poverty. The Government was committed to achieving tangible progress in improving their quality of life by pursuing a range of initiatives to improve outcomes. Women with disabilities would also benefit from recent developments, including the National Disability Strategy of 2004 and the Disability Act of 2005.

365.Steps had been taken to integrate a gender dimension into the health service and to make it responsive to the particular needs of women. Additional funding had been provided for family planning and pregnancy counselling services. The Crisis Pregnancy Agency had been set up in 2001. Extensive national dialogue had occurred on the issue of abortion, with five separate referendums held on three separate occasions. The representative noted that the Government had no plans to put forward further proposals at the present time.

366.The Government attached great importance to the elimination of violence against women, and a strategic plan covering the next five years would prioritize action. Legislation had been passed to address domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, clearly defining them as criminal acts, and was complemented by support measures for victims and public awareness-raising efforts.

367.In regard to immigration, special measures had been taken to address the needs of women asylum-seekers, and the refugee law provided for asylum applications on grounds of gender-based persecution. The Government also sought to eliminate the trafficking of women for prostitution.

368.While the Constitution guaranteed equality before the law for all citizens, the Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament) were considering proposals to prohibit explicitly discrimination on a number of grounds, including gender. Other provisions of the Constitution, including those on the family and on the position of women, also deserved attention. The representative underlined that the State party’s outstanding three reservations to the Convention, none of which was contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention, were kept under regular review. The Government had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention in 2000.

369.The representative concluded by referring to the National Women’s Strategy, 2006-2015, which was being developed, and recognized the contribution of non-governmental organizations to the achievement of gender equality in Ireland.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

370.The Committee commends the State party for its combined fourth and fifth periodic report, which was submitted in accordance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of reports. It also commends the State party for the frank oral presentation and written replies to questions posed by the Committee’s pre-session working group, which provided additional information on the implementation of the Convention.

371.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation, headed by the Minister of State of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and composed of representatives of different departments with expertise in a broad range of areas covered by the Convention. The Committee appreciates the openness and seriousness of the constructive dialogue that took place between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

372.The Committee commends the State party for the withdrawal of the reservations to articles 15 (3) and 13 (b) and (c).

373.The Committee welcomes the regular consultation procedures with civil society institutions and the State party’s recognition of the contribution that non-governmental organizations make towards achieving gender equality and the value that it places on their work.

Positive aspects

374.The Committee notes with appreciation that, since the consideration of its combined second and third periodic report (CEDAW/C/IRL/2-3) in 1999, the State party has enacted the Equal Status Act, 2000 and the Equality Act, 2004, the latter amending both the 2000 Act and the Employment Equality Act, 1998; the Carer’s Leave Act, 2001; the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001; the Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2002; and the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act, 2004; and that the State party has included the comprehensive Equality for Women Measure in the National Development Plan, 2000-2006.

375.The Committee welcomes the establishment of the Irish Human Rights Commission under the Human Rights Commission Act 2000, and its amendment of 2001, which provide for equal gender representation in that at least seven of 15 commissioners must be women and seven must be men. The Committee commends the Commission for having identified gender as one of its key areas of work in its strategic plan for 2003-2006 and for making a submission in respect of Ireland’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report.

376.The Committee notes with appreciation the increase in the employment rate for women aged 15-64 from 40 per cent in 1994 to 56 per cent in 2004.

377.The Committee welcomes the incorporation of gender mainstreaming as part of Ireland’s development aid.

378.The Committee commends the State party for its ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention and acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, relating to the Committee’s meeting time.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

379. The Committee notes the State party’s obligation regarding the systematic and continuing implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, it is the Committee’s view that the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding comments require the State party’s priority attention between now and the submission of the next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee calls on the State party to focus on those areas in its implementation activities and, in its next periodic report, to report on action taken and results achieved. It calls on the State party to submit the present concluding comments to all relevant ministries and to the Oireachtas so as to ensure their full implementation.

380.The Committee notes that not all provisions of the Convention have been incorporated into the domestic law of the State party. It is concerned at the absence of a detailed definition of discrimination covering all areas of life, in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, the principle of equality between women and men, as set forth in article 2 (a) of the Convention and other specificities of the Convention, such as article 5 (a), which requires States to address social and cultural patterns that lead to discrimination and stereotyped roles for women and men, and article 14 on rural women.

381. The Committee recommends that the State party take appropriate measures to incorporate all the provisions of the Convention into domestic law and to ensure that effective remedies are available to women whose rights are violated. It also recommends the inclusion of a definition of discrimination against women in line with article 1 of the Convention, and the principle of the equality of women and men as set forth in article 2 (a) of the Convention in the Constitution or other appropriate legislation. It also recommends campaigns to raise awareness of the Convention, including its interpretation by the Committee through its general recommendations, aimed, inter alia, at parliamentarians, government officials, the judiciary and the legal profession.

382.The Committee is concerned at the persistence of traditional stereotypical views of the social roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society at large, which are reflected in article 41.2 of the Constitution and its male-oriented language, as recognized by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, in women’s educational choices and employment patterns, and in women’s low participation in political and public life.

383. The Committee recommends that the State party take additional measures to eliminate traditional stereotypical attitudes, including through sensitization and training of all educational actors and sustained awareness-raising campaigns directed at both women and men. It recommends that the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution take the Convention fully into account in considering any amendments to article 41.2 of the Constitution, as well as including a provision to underline the obligation of the State to pursue actively the achievement of substantive equality between women and men. The Committee also suggests that the State party consider replacing male-oriented language with gender-sensitive language in the Constitution to convey the concept of gender equality more clearly. Considering the important role of the media in regard to cultural change, the Committee furthermore recommends that the State party encourage the media to project a positive image of women and of the equal status and responsibilities of women and men in the private and public spheres.

384.The Committee is concerned that, in spite of a large variety of measures and programmes envisaged or already in place, including under the Equality for Women Measure, there seems to be no comprehensive strategic view and framework for the achievement of gender equality in all areas of life and with the involvement of all sectors and all social actors.

385. The Committee recommends that an effort be made to speed up the completion and adoption of the National Women’s Strategy and to take a comprehensive and integrated approach to women’s human rights under which all current gender inequalities and problems faced by different categories of women, including women of the most vulnerable groups in Irish society, may be considered and addressed effectively. The Committee further recommends that the national machinery for gender equality be fully empowered, staffed and funded to pursue effectively coordination and monitoring of the National Women’s Strategy, while promoting gender mainstreaming into all areas and sectors of governance and maintaining at the same time women-targeted projects aiming at gender equality.

386.While acknowledging the efforts made to address violence against women, including legislative measures, the provision of refuges and rape crisis centres, and research and awareness-raising initiatives, the Committee is concerned about the prevalence of violence against women and girls, low prosecution and conviction rates of perpetrators, high withdrawal rates of complaints and inadequate funding of organizations that provide support services to victims. The Committee is also concerned that insufficient information was provided on the question of sexual harassment, as requested in the previous concluding comments (A/54/38/Rev.1, part two, para. 188). The Committee is furthermore concerned about violence suffered by women from marginalized and vulnerable groups, including Traveller women, migrant women, asylum-seeking and refugee women and women with disabilities.

387. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to combat violence against women in conformity with the Committee’s general recommendation 19, to prevent violence, punish offenders and provide services for victims. It recommends that the State party adopt without delay its strategic plan and systematically monitor and regularly evaluate the plan’s components, particularly in relation to marginalized and vulnerable women, including Traveller women, migrant women, asylum-seeking and refugee women and women with disabilities. The Committee recommends that sustained training and awareness-raising initiatives be carried out for public officials, the judiciary, health professionals and members of the public. The Committee also recommends that the State party closely monitor the incidence of all forms of violence against women, including sexual harassment.

388.The Committee is concerned about trafficking in women and girls into Ireland, the lack of information on the extent of the problem and on specific legislation in this area, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy to combat it.

389. The Committee recommends the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking in women and girls, which should include preventive measures, the prosecution and punishment of offenders and the enactment of specific legislation in the area. The Committee also recommends that measures be put in place to provide for the physical, psychological and social recovery of women and girls who have been victims of trafficking, including the provision of shelter, counselling and medical care. It further recommends that border police and law enforcement officials be provided with the requisite skills to recognize and provide support for victims of trafficking. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next report comprehensive information and data on trafficking in women and girls and on the measures taken to combat the phenomenon.

390.While acknowledging that the President, the Deputy Prime Minister and three members of the Cabinet are women, and that women occupy other visibl