Chapter

Paragraphs

Page

Part oneReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its twenty-sixth session

1

Letter of transmittal

2

Matters brought to the attention of States parties

3

Decisions

3

Organizational and other matters

1–19

4

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

1–2

4

Opening of the session

3–11

4

Attendance

12–13

6

Solemn declaration

14

6

Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

15

6

Report of the pre-session working group

16–18

7

Organization of work

19

7

Report of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth sessions of the Committee

20–21

8

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

22–405

9

Introduction

22–23

9

Consideration of reports of States parties

24–405

9

Initial report

24–70

9

Fiji

24–70

9

Combined initial, second and third periodic reports

71–166

15

Estonia

71–118

15

Trinidad and Tobago

119–166

23

Combined second and third periodic report

167–214

29

Uruguay

167–214

29

Combined third and fourth period reports

215–302

35

Iceland

215–255

35

Sri Lanka

256–302

40

Fourth and fifth periodic reports

303–353

46

Portugal

303–353

46

Fifth periodic report

354–405

53

Russian Federation

354–405

53

Activities carried out under the Optional Protocol to the Convention

406–407

61

Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee

408–413

65

Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

414–436

68

Provisional agenda for the twenty-seventh session

437

73

Adoption of the report

438

74

Part twoReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its twenty-seventh session

75

Letter of transmittal

76

Matters brought to the attention of States parties

77

Decisions

77

Organizational and other matters

1–16

78

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

1

78

B.Opening of the session

2–10

78

C.Attendance

11

79

D.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

12

80

E.Report of the pre-session working group

13–16

80

III.Report of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh sessions of the Committee

17–19

81

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

20–355

82

A.Introduction

20–21

82

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

22–355

82

1.Combined initial and second periodic report

22–72

82

Suriname

22–72

82

2.Combined initial, second, third and fourth report

73–118

90

Saint Kitts and Nevis

73–118

90

3.Combined third and fourth periodic reports

119–261

95

Belgium

119–170

95

Tunisia

171–210

102

Zambia

211–261

107

4.Combined fourth and fifth periodic report

262–301

114

Ukraine

262–301

114

5.Fourth and fifth periodic reports

302–355

120

Denmark

302–355

120

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

356–362

128

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

363–375

130

VII.Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

376–384

134

VIII.Provisional agenda for the exceptional session and the twenty-eighth session

385

135

IX.Adoption of the report

386

136

AnnexRevised reporting guidelines

137

Part threeReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its exceptional session

143

Letter of transmittal

144

Introduction

145

Organizational and other matters

1–18

146

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

4–5

146

B.Opening of the session

6–12

146

C.Attendance

13–14

147

D.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

15

147

E.Report of the pre-session working group

16–18

148

III.Report of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the twenty-seventh and exceptional sessions of the Committee

19–22

149

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

23–506

150

A.Introduction

23–24

150

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

25–503

150

1.Second periodic reports

25–112

150

Armenia

25–69

150

Czech Republic

70–112

157

2.Third periodic report

113–162

164

Uganda

113–162

164

3.Combined third, fourth and fifth periodic reports

163–208

171

Guatemala

163–208

171

4.Fourth periodic report

209–255

177

Barbados

209–255

177

5.Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports

256–338

184

Greece

256–300

184

Hungary

301–338

189

6.Fourth and fifth periodic reports

339–409

196

Argentina

339–369

196

Yemen

370–409

200

7.Fifth periodic report

410–503

205

Mexico

410–453

205

Peru

454–502

212

V.Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

503–504

219

VI.Adoption of the report

505

219

Annexes

I.States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as at 15 September 2002

220

II.States parties which have deposited with the Secretary-General instruments of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention

227

III.States parties which have signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention

229

IV.Membership of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

232

V.Revised reporting guidelines*

VI.Documents before the Committee at its twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh and exceptional sessions

234

VII.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 15 September 2002

237

* Since annex V to part three duplicates the annex to part two of the present combined report, it is not repeated here; see part two, annex.

Part one

Report of the Committee on the Eliminationof Discrimination against Women on its twenty-sixth session

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

Letter of transmittal

2 May 2002

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 twenty-sixth session from 14 January to 1 February 2002 at United Nations Headquarters. It adopted its report on the session at the 549th meeting, on 1 February 2002. The report of the Committee is herewith submitted to you for transmission to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

(Signed) Charlotte AbakaChairpersonCommittee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Chapter IMatters brought to the attention of States parties

Decisions

Decision 26/IStatement of solidarity with Afghan women

The Committee decided to adopt a statement of solidarity with Afghan women (see paras. 417-421 below).

Decision 26/IIGender and sustainable development

The Committee decided to adopt a statement on gender and sustainable development, to be forwarded to the preparatory committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 August to 4 September 2002 (see paras. 422-429 below).

Decision 26/IIIEnding discrimination against older women through the Convention

The Committee decided to adopt a statement on ending discrimination against older women through the Convention to be forwarded to the preparatory committee for the World Assembly on Ageing, to be held in Madrid from 8 to 12 April 2002 (see paras. 430-436 below). It also decided, subject to the availability of resources, to nominate one of its members to attend the World Assembly on its behalf.

Decision 26/IVSpecial session of the General Assembly on children

Recalling its decision 25/III on the special session of the General Assembly on children, the Committee decided, subject to the availability of resources, to nominate one member to participate in the special session, to be held from 8 to 10 May 2002, on its behalf.

Chapter IIOrganizational and other matters

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

1.On 1 February 2002, the closing date of the twenty-sixth session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, there were 168 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 its article 27, the Convention entered into force on 3 September 1981.

2.A list of States parties to the Convention is contained in annex I. A list of States parties that have accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention is contained in annex II. A list of States parties that have signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention is contained in annex III.

B.Opening of the session

3.The Committee held its twenty-sixth session at United Nations Headquarters from 14 January to 1 February 2002. The Committee held 21 plenary meetings (529th to 549th) and met as a working group of the whole in 12 meetings.

4.The session was opened by the chairperson of the Committee, Charlotte Abaka (Ghana), who was elected at the twenty-fourth session of the Committee, in January 2001.

5.Addressing the Committee at its 529th meeting, on 14 January 2002, the Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela E. V. King, welcomed the two new members of the Committee who had been nominated by their Governments and accepted by the Committee to complete the terms of two former members who had resigned because of professional commitments. The Special Adviser also introduced Carolyn Hannan, who had recently been appointed Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women.

6.While noting that the period between the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth sessions had been marked by difficulties resulting from the tragic events of 11 September 2001, the Special Adviser indicated that there had been several highlights during that period. They included the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which had been held from 31 August to 8 September 2001, in Durban, South Africa. Several members of the Committee, including the Chairperson, had participated in the Conference, which recognized that racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance affected women and girls differently than men and boys and stressed the need to integrate a gender perspective into relevant policies, strategies and programmes against racism and racial discrimination. She also highlighted the strategies recommended by the Conference to confront racism and racial discrimination, which included the signing and ratifying of human rights and other treaties, including the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and their full implementation.

7.The Special Adviser informed the Committee on developments with respect to the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. The United Nations had sponsored talks between four Afghan groups in Bonn, Germany, chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, which had ended on 5 December 2001 with the signing of an Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-establishment of Permanent Government Institutions. Two women had participated as full delegates in those talks and two women had been included in the Interim Administration, one as Minister of Women’s Affairs and one as Minister of Health. She also informed the Committee that the first Integrated Mission Task Force, which had been established to advise the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, included three gender specialists drawn from the Division for the Advancement of Women, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

8.The Special Adviser drew attention to the Afghan Women’s Summit for Democracy, held in Brussels, on 4 and 5 December 2001, which had been organized at the request of Afghan women by the European Women’s Lobby, Equality Now and other groups, in collaboration with her Office and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The meeting, which she had attended, had been held so that Afghan women could identify their priorities for the future of Afghanistan, particularly with respect to their full participation in the peace process, including in the context of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on women, peace and security. The Summit had concluded with the adoption of the Brussels Proclamation, which addressed women’s demands with respect to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was one of the human rights instruments highlighted in the Proclamation.

9.The Special Adviser informed the Committee that she and the Division for the Advancement of Women had taken every possible opportunity to encourage ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol, as well as acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention. Letters had been sent to the Permanent Representatives of all States parties that had not yet accepted the amendment, as well as to members from States parties which had not yet accepted the amendment, urging its acceptance. Her office and the Division for the Advancement of Women collaborated with the Office of Legal Affairs in connection with that Office’s treaty signature/ ratification event, which took place from 19 September to 5 October 2001 and which had been directed at achieving universal ratification of the United Nations treaties most relevant to the advancement of women. A significant number of ratifications and accessions of these treaties had been achieved during the event. The Division for the Advancement of Women had also provided technical support for a subregional training workshop organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on ratification of the Convention.

10.The Special Adviser informed the Committee that, taking into account its decision 25/1, the General Assembly had authorized the Committee to hold, on an exceptional basis, an extraordinary session of three weeks’ duration in 2002, to be used entirely for the consideration of the reports of States parties in order to reduce the backlog of reports. She indicated that, in considering the matter, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions had expressed the view that the expected elimination of the backlog might be temporary unless the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reforms its methods of work, including its reporting procedures, and provides guidelines concerning the length of reports from States parties. The Advisory Committee was also of the opinion that the Committee and the States parties should consider adopting reporting guidelines that could limit the length of reports of States parties and streamline their structure and content.

11.In closing, the Special Adviser indicated that the work of the Committee during its current session would include consideration of the reports of eight States parties and continuation of the discussion of the general recommendation of the Committee on article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women. She also recalled that the World Summit on Sustainable Development would take place in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002, and that the Committee might wish to prepare input for that event.

C.Attendance

12.All members of the Committee attended the twenty-sixth session.

13.A list of the members of the Committee indicating the duration of their terms of office is contained in annex IV to the final report of the Committee for 2002.

D.Solemn declaration

14.At the opening meeting of the twenty-sixth session, at the 529th meeting, before assuming their functions, two members made the solemn declaration provided for under rule 15 of the Committee’s rules of procedure. They were Christine Kapalata (United Republic of Tanzania), who had been nominated by her Government and accepted by the Committee to complete the remaining period of the term of Asha Rose Mtengeti-Migiro, and Fumiko Saiga (Japan), who had been nominated by her Government and accepted by the Committee to complete the remaining period of the term of Chikako Taya.

E.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

15.The Committee considered the provisional agenda and organization of work (CEDAW/C/2002/I/1) at its 529th meeting on 14 January 2002. The agenda as adopted was as follows:

1.Opening of the session.

2.Solemn declaration by new members of the Committee.

3.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.

4.Report of the Chairperson on activities undertaken between the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth sessions of the Committee.

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

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

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

8.Provisional agenda for the twenty-seventh session.

9.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its twenty-sixth session.

F.Report of the pre-session working group

16.The pre-session working group for the twenty-sixth session of the Committee met from 23 to 27 July 2001 to prepare lists of issues and questions relating to the periodic reports that would be considered by the Committee at that session. The following members, representing different regional groups, participated in the Working Group: Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (Africa); Heisoo Shin (Asia); Frances Livingstone Raday (Europe); and Zelmira Regazzoli (Latin America and the Caribbean). Ms. Zelmira Regazzoli was elected as its Chairperson.

17.The working group prepared lists of issues and questions relating to the reports of five States parties, namely: Iceland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.

18.At its 531st meeting, on 16 January 2002, the Chairperson of the pre-session working group introduced the report of the group (CEDAW/PSWG/2002/1/CRP.1 and Add.1-5).

G.Organization of work

19.At its 529th meeting, on 14 January 2002, the Committee decided to take up issues under agenda item 6, on implementation of article 21 of the Convention, and agenda item 7, on ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee, through a working group of the whole. The issues it decided to consider were: the general recommendation on article 4.1 of the Convention; the draft model form for communications prepared by the working group on the optional protocol; human rights education; and the agenda for the inter-treaty body meeting to be held in June 2002.

Chapter IIIReport of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth sessions of the Committee

20.At its 529th meeting, on 14 January 2002, the Chairperson of the Committee, Charlotte Abaka, briefed the Committee on her attendance at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, including her participation in a number of important parallel events. They included an event entitled “The Voices of Victims — Human stories of racial discrimination with first-hand accounts from every region of the world”, and a round table on the “Impact of Multiple Forms of Discrimination on Women”, which was organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Division for the Advancement of Women and was chaired by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. The Chairperson indicated that, during the round table, she had highlighted the Committee’s statement on gender and racial discrimination. The Chairperson emphasized the fact that the Committee’s work had attracted significant interest at events during the World Conference.

21.The Chairperson stated that the Convention was an effective tool in achieving sustainable human, economic, social and cultural development. She strongly recommended that the Committee place more emphasis on human rights education and actively participate in the final years of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004). She identified gender-sensitive human rights education as a critical strategy to address inequalities, injustices and abuses in the home, the workplace, the streets, courts, prisons and elsewhere. She stated that citizens and policy makers should learn to understand human rights obligations and responsibilities and that they should learn to monitor and enforce human rights effectively and efficiently.

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

A.Introduction

22.At its twenty-sixth 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 combined initial, second and third periodic reports of two States parties; the combined second and third periodic report of one State party; the combined third and fourth periodic reports of two States parties; the third and fourth periodic reports of one State party; and the fifth periodic report of one State party.

23.The Committee prepared concluding comments on each of the States parties 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 provided below.

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

1.Initial report

Fiji

24.The Committee considered the initial report of the Republic of the Fiji Islands (CEDAW/C/FJI/1) at its 530th and 531st meetings, on 17 January 2002, and its 538th meeting on 22 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.530, 531 and 538).

(a)Introduction by the State party

25.In introducing the report, the representative of Fiji stated that her country believed in the spirit and the goals of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, was committed to human rights and took its obligation to implement the Convention seriously. Fiji was proud to be the first Pacific island State to report to the Committee, and before submitting the initial report in early 2000, had withdrawn its reservation to article 5 (a) of the Convention.

26.The representative said that the report had been a collaborative effort of all governmental sectors, in partnership with civil society and non-governmental organizations, and that Fiji had shared its experiences in the preparation of its initial report at the workshop conducted by the Division for the Advancement of Women in New Zealand in 2001.

27.The representative informed the Committee that the isolation of Fiji and her Pacific island neighbours from the rest of the world made the country susceptible to global economic forces and, consequently, sporadic political upheavals, and the country’s goals and priorities were affected by social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. Fiji relied on a small export base dealing in an open market in international trade and a sluggish economy had led to major job losses, outward migration, a lowering of the living standard, increased poverty and crime. She pointed out that over half of the predominantly highly skilled and qualified professionals who had migrated from Fiji in recent years had been women.

28.An attempted civilian coup d’état on 19 May 2000 had disrupted parliamentary rule by the democratically elected Government. General elections had since been conducted, restoring constitutional democracy and political stability. A total of 26 of the 353 candidates were women and 5 had been successful. Currently, two women are cabinet ministers, two are assistant ministers and one is a member of the Opposition. There are three women in the 32-member Senate.

29.Poverty continued to be a growing concern, with a 1996 study revealing that 25.5 per cent of households lived below the poverty line. Single-headed households accounted for 20 per cent of the poor, with one in seven being female-headed. Means to address that included the reconstituting of the Ministry for Women to achieve parity with the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Poverty Alleviation, thereby recognizing the linkage between gender and poverty, which had been flagged in the 2000 Millennium Declaration. Fiji had recognized that the alleviation of poverty would advance women’s rights and bring the country closer to its goal of social equity. Thus, the 2002 government budget allocation for poverty alleviation and rural development had increased by $56 million.

30.Gender mainstreaming approaches were being pursued especially in the implementation of the Women’s Plan of Action of the Government of Fiji. Some efforts by civil society and non-governmental organizations to provide programmes, advocate and lobby for women’s strategic and practical needs were government-subsidized and complemented the Government’s efforts in the areas of violence against women, women in politics, women in the media, peace-building and legal reforms. Part of the commitment of her Government to provide programmes for disadvantaged groups or categories of persons to achieve equality included economic support to promote a more equitable development for indigenous Fijians and Rotumans. The Social Justice Act was passed in December 2001, implementing chapter 5 of the 1997 Constitution, which required Parliament to make provision for a framework for decisions on policy and legislation for affirmative action.

31.The preceding two years of political crisis had made national security the Government’s top priority. However, progress had been made on a number of issues, including a review of the penal code on sexual offences. Legislation on offences against children had been amended to address an increase in paedophilia. Women in Fiji had followed the commercial law reform with interest, especially with regard to intellectual property rights, as the protection of indigenous and cultural knowledge and property rights was of concern.

32.The representative informed the Committee of the implementation of her Government’s commitment at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing to campaign against violence against women. Programmes and training workshops had been supported by the Government, and financial support had been provided for civil society organizations offering support and shelter to victims. The Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation had formed a task force on violence against women which was working closely with women’s organizations and civil society on a domestic violence agenda for appropriate legislation or remedies. It was hoped that results would be achieved in 2002.

33.On the issue of access and participation of girls in education, the Fiji Islands Education Commission/Panel (November 2000) had pointed to an increase of 19.8 per cent in primary schools, and a 405 per cent increase in secondary schools between 1970 and 1999. Women lagged behind in science and technology, however. Therefore, career choices in those fields for most girls and young women were limited. The reason for that was, inter alia, that schools predominantly offered home economics and typing to girls and technical drawing, woodwork and metal work to boys, in addition to gender stereotyping in curriculum materials. Women’s enrolment in non-traditional fields had increased as a result of scholarships funded by donor Governments and similar initiatives adopted by local institutions.

34.Women’s reproductive health was well catered for, but women’s mental health was a neglected area. Sexually transmitted infections had continued to escalate, and the Ministry of Health had set a number of priority areas, including HIV prevention, care of and support for persons living with HIV/AIDS and testing. The health sector had suffered, however, from the out-migration of health professionals.

35.The representative indicated that the work of rural women was rarely acknowledged in national statistics and there were no figures available for women farmers, fisherfolk or forestry workers or rural businesswomen. Rural women’s access to education and health required improvement. The Government was emphasizing development for rural areas, and the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation was making all efforts to ensure equitable development for both rural and urban women and men.

36.Gender roles were deeply rooted in all communities in Fiji and, despite education and changes that had occurred in traditional gender roles, women’s status was unequal to that of men. Changes were beginning to occur among urban families, where both women and men worked, but decision-making continued to be the realm of men. Domestic violence affected most homes in Fiji, irrespective of social or economic status, but that had only recently become a public issue. The breakdown of the family unit was of major concern, with applications for legal aid assistance in family law matters, including divorce, maintenance and custody, having sharply increased.

37.The representative concluded by stating that Fiji’s specific vulnerabilities underscored the need to strengthen technical support and assistance at the international and regional levels, as well as building effective networks and partnerships with non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

38.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its initial report which, although delayed, was informative, contained data disaggregated by sex and complied with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of initial reports.

39.The Committee commends the State party on its delegation, headed by the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation.

Positive aspects

40.The Committee commends the efforts made to ensure the implementation of the Convention through a wide range of laws, policies and programmes, with the support and active participation of women’s civil society organizations. The Committee commends the State party for preparing its initial report in consultation with these organizations. It commends the launching of the Women’s Plan of Action 1999-2008, which incorporates commitments of the Beijing Platform for Action.

41.The Committee welcomes the introduction of a specific provision on gender equality in the Constitution of 1997, and the establishment in Fiji of the first human rights commission in the South Pacific region. The Committee appreciates the recognition given to public international law in interpreting the Constitution and notes that this has helped courts to use the Convention in judicial interpretation. The Committee commends the State party for withdrawing its reservations to articles 5 (a) and 9 of the Convention. It also welcomes the extensive programme of law reforms in critical areas in conformity with the Constitution and the Convention and commends in particular the enactment of a citizenship law based on article 9 of the Convention.

42.The Committee commends the State party for establishing the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation and facilitating the integration of the central dimension of gender into social welfare and poverty reduction. The Committee also welcomes the creation of several institutional mechanisms, including the National Women’s Advisory Counsel, to promote gender equality and implement the Women’s Plan of Action.

43.The Committee commends the efforts of the State party to strengthen gender mainstreaming and monitoring through the gender budget initiative, and a gender audit project and welcomes the initiatives taken on human rights education and gender training.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

44.The Committee notes that stereotypical attitudes towards women’s work and family responsibilities impede full implementation of the Convention.

45.The Committee recognizes that periods of political instability, ethnic tensions, low economic growth and increasing poverty in a period of economic transition have impacted negatively on the State party’s efforts to implement the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

46.The Committee expresses concern that the Constitution of 1997 does not contain a definition of discrimination against women. The Committee notes the absence of effective mechanisms to challenge discriminatory practices and enforce the right to gender equality guaranteed by the Constitution in respect of the actions of public officials and non-State actors. The Committee is concerned that the Convention is not specified in the mandate of the Human Rights Commission, and that it is not assured funds to continue its work.

47. The Committee recommends that proposed constitutional reform should address the need to incorporate a definition of discrimination. The Committee urges the State party to include a clear procedure for enforcement of fundamental rights and enact an equal opportunities law to cover the actions of non-State actors. The Committee also recommends that the mandate of the Human Rights Commission be expanded to include the Convention, and that the Commission be provided with adequate resources from State funds.

48.The Committee is concerned that the Social Justice Act and the “Blue Print”, which propose affirmative action for the indigenous Fijian population, do not integrate a gender perspective.

49. The Committee recommends that the Social Justice Act and the “Blue Print” be evaluated for their impact on both ethnicity and gender, to ensure respect for gender equality, and human rights in Fiji’s multicultural plural society. The Committee urges the State party to introduce an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that these programmes conform with fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Convention’s concept of temporary special measures, and contributes to the elimination of discrimination against all Fijian women.

50.The Committee is concerned that, despite significant gains in education, some equal employment opportunities policies and an accessible database on qualified women professionals, women’s political participation and access to decision-making positions remain limited.

51. The Committee recommends the introduction of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4.1 of the Convention to increase the representation of women in national and local assemblies, and in decision-making positions at all levels.

52.The Committee notes the active participation of women’s civil society organizations, and recommends that this rich resource continue to be used for sustainable development and the promotion of gender equality in Fiji.

53. The Committee recommends that the participation of women’s civil society organizations in the Women’s Advisory Council be strengthened, and that the various governmental machineries work in a coordinated manner with them in implementing the Women’s Plan of Action 1999-2008.

54.The Committee notes that women shoulder a heavy burden of dual responsibility at work and in the family, and that there has been an increase in the number of female heads of households. It is concerned that entrenched stereotypical attitudes to women in society and the idea of an exclusively male head of household encourage segregation in employment and a denial of the economic contribution of women.

55. The Committee recommends an accelerated and broad-based programme of human rights education and gender training which includes dissemination of information on the Convention, with a view to changing existing stereotypical attitudes. It also recommends changes in laws and administrative regulations to recognize women as heads of households and the concept of shared economic contribution and household responsibilities.

56.The Committee notes with concern that women do not receive equal wages for work of equal value and are denied equal access to employment and promotion. Furthermore, the working conditions of women, particularly in the tax-free zones, contravene article 11 of the Convention. The Committee also notes with concern that pregnancy leave is not mandatory.

57. The Committee recommends the very early adoption of the Industrial Relations Bill and Equal Opportunity legislation and a repeal of outdated labour laws. Legal reforms should make pregnancy leave mandatory and deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. The Committee calls upon the State party to promote the adoption of a code of ethics for investors, including in the tax-free zones.

58.The Committee notes with concern the high incidence of ethnic and gender-based violence against women in periods of civil unrest. It is concerned that, despite the State party’s positive initiatives to address gender-based violence, there are high levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse of girls and women. The Committee is also concerned that the social customs on the husband’s right of chastisement, and “bulu bulu”, give social legitimacy to violence. The Committee also notes that the Evidence Bill, which introduces reforms in procedures with respect to sexual offences, has not been adopted.

59. The Committee requests the State party to strengthen its initiatives to combat gender-based violence and adopt the proposed laws on domestic violence and sexual offences very early, prohibiting practices that legalize violence against women. In particular, it calls on the State party to reinforce its “no drop” policy by prohibiting the reconciliation of cases of rape and sexual assault on the basis of the “bulu bulu” custom. The Committee recommends the early passage and entry into force of the Evidence Bill.

60.The Committee notes with concern that an increase in levels of poverty and adverse economic conditions are undermining Fiji’s gains in women’s education. These conditions have led to a higher incidence of girls dropping out of school, with connected problems of early marriage, teenage pregnancies and sexual exploitation.

61. The Committee recommends the introduction of targeted policies and programmes to reduce poverty, prevent early marriage, teenage pregnancies and girls dropping out of school.

62.The Committee notes the gains achieved with regard to women’s health but is concerned that women in remote islands are adversely affected by maternal and infant mortality. It notes that out-migration of health professionals has led to a decline in health services, and that cervical cancer and circulatory diseases are a major cause of female death. The Committee also notes with concern the growing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

63. The Committee recommends that priority be given to allocating resources for improving health care services for women, including in the remote islands, and combating sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. It encourages the State party to introduce proactive measures and incentives to attract local health professionals to the health services in Fiji.

64.The Committee is concerned that there is a growing problem of prostitution due to economic hardship, and that a colonial law from 1944 which penalizes the conduct of only women who engage in prostitution continues to be enforced.

65. The Committee recommends an holistic and integrated programme of law reform, and policies and programmes to facilitate reintegration, and the criminalization of the actions of only those who profit from the sexual exploitation of women.

66.The Committee notes with concern that family laws in Fiji contain many discriminatory provisions, and that restrictive divorce laws encourage violence, including suicide. It also notes with concern that the proposed Family Law Bill has not been adopted.

67. The Committee urges the early adoption of the Family Law Bill and calls for the law on family relations of all communities to be brought into conformity with the Constitution and the Convention.

68. The Committee urges the State party to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to deposit, as soon as possible, its instrument of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

69. 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. It particularly requests information on the impact of legislation, policies and programmes.

70. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Republic of the Fiji Islands of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Fiji, in particular governmental administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and of the further steps that are required in this regard. It 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, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century”.

2.Combined initial, second and third periodic reports

Estonia

71.The Committee considered the combined initial, second and third periodic reports of Estonia (CEDAW/C/EST/1-3) at its 539th, 540th and 548th meetings, on 23 and 29 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.539, 540 and 548).

(a)Introduction by the State party

72.In introducing the report, the representative indicated that the Estonian women’s movement had begun in the 1880s when the first women’s organizations were established; that the Women’s Union, founded in 1907, had spoken publicly about women’s rights, including equal pay for equal work, and that the first Estonian Constitution in 1920 had granted women the right to vote. Women’s organizations became very active in the 1980s, and after the independence of Estonia in 1991, several new women’s organizations were founded, and gender equality issues were readdressed in connection with the Fourth World Conference on Women, held at Beijing. An inter-ministerial committee had been established in 1996 for the promotion of gender equality, and included in its priorities the creation and strengthening of national structures to integrate the principle of gender equality; the analysis of the compliance of Estonian legislation with international standards of gender equality; a guarantee with regard to the availability of gender-sensitive statistics; and the improvement of the situation of women in the labour market and the increase of women’s participation in decision-making.

73.Gender equality initiatives in Estonia were promoted by numerous foreign-funded initiatives, including through research into the economic and social situation of women and men, and contacts and cooperation with women’s rights advocates, other countries, in particular the Nordic countries, and international and regional organizations. In 1991, Estonia acceded to almost 30 of the most important United Nations conventions. Owing to the speedy ratification process and large-scale legal reforms, Estonia had faced serious difficulties in presenting reports on the implementation of the conventions in a timely manner, but a number of reports had now been submitted. Estonia had ratified a number of conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), including convention No. 100 on equal remuneration, and, as a member of the Council of Europe, had ratified the major instruments dealing with human rights. In addition, as an applicant to the European Union, Estonia had harmonized its national legislation with European acquis in the area of labour. Since 1998, measures promoting equality between women and men had formed part of the Government’s action plan, and the Government’s National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis included sub-chapters on equal treatment for women and men and on gender equality.

74.The representative indicated that the Estonian Constitution guaranteed equal rights to everyone, and the rights of women had been addressed in several Estonian laws. The draft Gender Equality Act, which had been submitted to the Estonian Parliament at the end of 2001, inter alia, explicitly prohibited direct discrimination; provided measures against indirect discrimination; and obliged employers to promote equality between women and men. The representative informed the Committee that the Legal Chancellor’s Office was responsible for supervising the activities of the State, including the enjoyment of the guarantee of constitutional rights and freedoms, and no petitions concerning violations of women’s rights had so far been filed with that office. The Gender Equality Bureau in the Ministry of Social Affairs coordinated the mainstreaming of gender equality; monitored the legislative process in terms of gender impact; and organized the preparation of national gender promotion action plans.

75.The representative indicated that continuous attention had been given to increasing public awareness of gender issues and a number of gender training programmes had been implemented. The engagement of civil society in gender equality matters was welcomed, and Estonian women’s non-governmental organizations, whose numbers had dramatically increased during the past decade, were in the process of consolidation, including through the formation of regional round tables. In 2001, the Government allocated for the first time financial resources to support women’s round-table activities and networking.

76.The representative indicated that, while the representation of women in decision-making positions should be greater, positive changes had taken place. Gender equality had been incorporated into the platforms of several political parties; the representation of women in Parliament and in local authorities had increased in the 1999 elections; and the Government that was currently being formed would include five women ministers. Women made up approximately two thirds of all part-time workers; there was a high degree of horizontal and vertical employment segregation between women and men; and women’s average wages had been approximately one quarter less than men’s wages. The Wages Act guaranteed equal pay and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sex with regard to remuneration, but the relatively high unemployment rate had caused women to seek employment in the informal sector, where they were underpaid and lacked social security. A number of measures had been taken to address the situation, including joint controls and supervision visits to companies by the Labour Inspectorate and other authorities. The National Employment Action Plan for 2002 promoted employment creation and equal opportunities and included as one of its components strengthening equal opportunities for women and men, and under the Employment Action Plan, strategies in the period 2001-2003 would be devised to integrate gender equality into the areas of employment and occupational life. Strengthening of the policy to guarantee equal opportunities for women and men was also one of the priority activities. The representative informed the Committee about measures taken to promote women entrepreneurs, particularly in rural areas.

77.The representative indicated that the health of Estonian women and children had improved significantly; information concerning reproductive health had become more available; and a programme on reproductive health for the period 2000-2009 had begun in 1999. The number of abortions was still high, but it had dropped in past years. The country was facing new problems, such as HIV/AIDS, and preventive and educational measures had been introduced to address HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Significant improvements in combating violence against women had occurred, including the creation of a sociological database of the scale and scope of violence against women; and a large-scale project aimed at elaborating cooperation between the police and social workers in respect of prevention activities and assistance to victims. A government action plan for mitigation and prevention of violence against women was being formulated and included as objectives convincing the public of the danger of violence against women; improving legislation; raising the capacity of police; introducing a victim-centred approach; and increasing inter-agency cooperation.

78.Rights and benefits related to raising children were now equally directed at mothers and fathers, and the new Holidays Act, inter alia, entitled fathers to leave for 14 calendar days during the mother’s pregnancy and maternity leave.

79.In closing, the representative informed the Committee that significant progress had been made to improve the position of women in Estonian society, but that efforts still had to be taken to further the full-scale implementation of the Convention. However, the Government was committed to continuing this work.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

80.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the Government of Estonia for submitting its initial, second and third periodic report, and encourages the Government to present its next report in a timely manner. The report generally follows the guidelines of the Committee and contains some statistical data disaggregated by sex. The Committee also appreciates the delegation’s willingness to engage in a frank and constructive dialogue with the Committee. The Committee also commends the State party’s efforts to produce, in a short period of time, qualitative and informative responses to the oral questions posed by the Committee.

Positive aspects

81.The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Convention is incorporated into Estonian law and has precedence over conflicting national legislation, and that de jure equality is becoming a reality in Estonia. Furthermore, the Committee notes with appreciation the efforts undertaken to improve the situation of women and the achievement of gender equality, particularly considering the recent independence and restructuring of the country.

82.The Committee commends the State party on Estonia’s high level of education, stressing in particular the situation of women in higher education, increasingly in non-traditional areas. The Committee also notes the measures adopted to promote women entrepreneurs and the progressive achievements in this area.

83.The Committee also notes with appreciation the comprehensive legislation and benefits for maternity and paternity protection, as well as projects addressing children’s health and the breast-feeding programmes.

84.The Committee notes with satisfaction that the State party recognizes the important role of the increasing number of non-governmental organizations working on women’s issues, in particular in the rural sector and with respect to women’s political participation.

85.The Committee commends the work undertaken in awareness-raising on equality, pursued with public officials in ministries and government agencies and other social actors, and the gradually increasing role played by the media encouraged by the State party in changing sex-role stereotypes. It also notes with satisfaction the efforts made by the State party to collect and disseminate all statistical data disaggregated by sex, as well as training provided in this regard.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

86.The Committee notes that the economic transition, from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, in the last decade has posed serious challenges to the effective implementation of the Convention, and that the restructuring processes have disproportionately affected women. The Committee also notes that the resurgence of traditional views regarding gender roles also constitutes an obstacle to the implementation of the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

87.The Committee expresses its concern that, although the Constitution recognizes that everyone is equal before the law and contains a prohibition of discrimination on the ground of sex, Estonian law does not contain a specific definition of discrimination against women modelled on article 1 of the Convention, which prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination.

88. The Committee urges the State party to include the definition of discrimination against women in its Constitution and national legislation. It recommends the adoption of the draft Gender Equality Act containing provisions to allow the adoption of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention. It requests the State party to provide in its next report relevant information on this law, as well as the remedies available to women for redress for violations of their rights protected under the Constitution and the Convention.

89.While welcoming the fact that, in accordance with articles 3 and 123 of the Constitution, the Convention is integrated into domestic legislation and takes precedence over such legislation, the Committee is concerned that there is still a lack of familiarity with the Convention among the judiciary, law enforcement agents and women themselves about the opportunities for the application of the Convention in domestic decision-making.

90. Acknowledging the effort already made with regard to human rights education, including on the human rights of women, and the transparency and participatory nature of the law-making process, the Committee recommends a review of law school curricula and the development of continuing education programmes for judges and lawyers that include the application of the Convention at the domestic level. It also recommends that awareness-raising campaigns addressed to women be undertaken to allow them to avail themselves of the legal remedies that assist them. It invites the State party to provide, in its next report, information about complaints filed in courts based on the Convention, as well as about any court decisions that referred to the Convention.

91.The Committee expresses its concern that the existing national mechanism for the advancement of women, the Gender Equality Bureau, a sub-unit of the Ministry of Social Affairs, although tasked with the responsibility of mainstreaming gender equality, does not have sufficient strength, visibility or human and financial resources to promote effectively the advancement of women and gender equality. The Committee also expresses its concern about the insufficient overall integrated policy of gender mainstreaming.

92. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen the existing national machinery in order to give it more visibility and effectiveness, as well as review its mandate to carry out effectively the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all policies. It also recommends that the State party reassess the capacity of the national machinery, provide it with adequate human and financial resources at all levels and foster more effective coordination among the existing mechanisms for the advancement of women and the promotion of gender equality.

93.The Committee is concerned that a clear understanding of temporary special measures according to article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, as well as the reason for their application, seems to be lacking in large parts of Estonian society and in public administration.

94. The Committee recommends that the State party raise public awareness about the importance of such measures in accelerating the process of gender equality. It also recommends that the State party introduce temporary special measures, inter alia, in the educational, employment, professional and political fields, including through encouragement to pursue disciplines and areas of work and of political intervention in which one sex is underrepresented. Such provisions should be designed with measurable goals, targets or quotas and time lines to allow their effective monitoring.

95.The Committee is concerned about the resurgence and persistence of traditional stereotypes regarding the role of men and women in the family, and in society at large. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of targeted educational programmes, mass media campaigns and temporary special measures to eliminate these stereotypes.

96. The Committee urges the State party to design and implement comprehensive programmes in the educational system and to encourage the mass media to promote cultural changes with regard to the roles and tasks attributed to women and men, as required by article 5 of the Convention. It recommends that legislation be enacted and policies adopted to cover not only the prohibition of discrimination against women but also of the more subtle utilization of and support for traditional sex role stereotypes in the family, in employment, in politics and in society.

97.While recognizing the efforts made by the State party to combat violence against women, especially domestic violence and the creation, with the collaboration of non-governmental organizations, of a database on the scope and scale of violence in Estonia, as well as the training of police officials and medical workers and specialists engaged in the victim support system, the Committee expresses its concern about the high incidence of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence.

98. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on comprehensive measures to address violence against women in the family and in society, and to recognize that such violence, including domestic violence, constitutes a violation of the human rights of women under the Convention. In the light of its general recommendation 19 on violence against women, the Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that such violence constitutes a crime punishable under criminal law, that it is prosecuted and punished with the required severity and speed, and that women victims of violence have immediate means of redress and protection. It recommends that measures be taken to ensure that public officials, especially law enforcement officials, the judiciary, the medical profession and social workers, are fully sensitized to all forms of violence against women. The Committee invites the State party to undertake awareness-raising measures, including a campaign of zero tolerance, to make such violence socially and morally unacceptable. It recommends the introduction of a specific law prohibiting domestic violence against women, which would provide for protection and exclusion orders and access to legal aid. The Committee also urges the State party to amend the Criminal Code in order explicitly to define the offence of rape as sexual intercourse without consent.

99.The Committee notes with concern that sexual intercourse with a girl only up to 14 years of age is considered to be rape, and Estonian law permits the marriage of a girl between the ages of 15 and 18 in exceptional circumstances, such as pregnancy.

100. The Committee recommends that the State party amends its law on statutory rape and bring its law on early marriage into conformity with article 16, paragraph 2, of the Convention, and its own policies on the reproductive health of women and girls. It urges the State party to develop preventive welfare programmes to address the problem of teenage pregnancy.

101.Recognizing the efforts made by the State party to address the issue of trafficking of women and girls, the Committee notes with concern that the size of the problem is not reflected in the information provided. It also notes with concern that there is still not enough information on the subject or a comprehensive policy to address the problem, nor is there any distinct legislation regarding trafficking in women and the punishment of traffickers.

102. Welcoming the campaign against trafficking in women to be carried out in 2002, the Committee urges the State party to include in its next report more information and data on this situation and on progress made in that area. It urges the State party to adopt and implement distinct legislation on trafficking and that it increase its collaboration with other countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls and to report on the results of such collaboration. It also recommends the creation of social support and reintegration programmes for victims of prostitution and trafficking.

103.While welcoming the information that the new Government will have 5 women ministers out of 14 Cabinet posts, including in portfolios traditionally held by men, the Committee expresses its concern at the low representation of women in decision-making bodies in the various areas and levels of political and public life.

104. The Committee recommends that the State party utilize temporary special measures in accordance with article 4.1 of the Convention to increase the number of women in decision-making levels in governmental bodies, and State-owned enterprises. It also recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts in offering or supporting special training programmes for current and future women leaders and conduct, on a regular basis, awareness-raising campaigns regarding the importance of women’s participation in political decision-making.

105.While noting with appreciation the high level of education among women, the Committee expresses its concern at the continuing gender disparities regarding the educational options of boys and girls, as well as the fact that this high level of education does not result in the elimination of the wage differential between men and women, in particular the gap between female- and male-dominated sectors of employment. It also expresses concern at the indirect discrimination in the recruitment, promotion and dismissal of women.

106. The Committee encourages the State party to analyse the lack of correlation between the high level of educational attainments of women and their income levels. It recommends the introduction of measures, including through the use of temporary special measures, to accelerate the representation of women at all levels of decision-making in educational institutions and economic life. It urges the State party to continue to review and reform the curricula and textbooks in order to combat the traditional attitudes towards women and to help to create an enabling environment for promoting women’s presence in high-level and well-paid positions.

107.The Committee notes with concern that the position of women in the labour market is characterized by discrimination and by a strong occupational segregation with a concomitant wage differential. The Committee is also concerned at the situation of young women who face additional difficulties in the labour market owing to the domestic and family responsibilities assigned to them, placing them in a vulnerable position and leading to a higher incidence in part-time or temporary work among them.

108. The Committee recommends that efforts be made to eliminate occupational segregation through the adoption of the new Employment Contracts Act under preparation, as well as through efforts in education, training and retraining. There should be additional wage increases in female-dominated sectors of public employment to decrease the wage differential in comparison with male-dominated sectors. The Committee requests information in the next report on the implementation of the amendments to the Wages Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. It also recommends that effective measures allowing for the reconciliation between family and professional responsibilities be envisaged and that the sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men be encouraged.

109.The Committee is concerned at the increase of poverty among various groups of women, in particular of those who are heads of household and those with small children.

110. The Committee recommends that the State party closely monitor the poverty situation of women within the most vulnerable groups and implement effective poverty alleviation programmes, taking into consideration the gender aspects of poverty.

111.While recognizing some improvements in the area of health, after a deterioration of the situation in the years following independence, the Committee is concerned with the increase of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, as well as with high suicide rates among women. The Committee notes with concern the high rate of abortion among women and the significance of this fact with regard to effective access to family planning methods, including contraceptives, especially among women in rural areas and low incomes.

112. The Committee draws attention to its general recommendation 24 on women and health and recommends that comprehensive research be undertaken into the specific health needs of women, including reproductive health, the financial and organizational strengthening of family planning programmes addressed to women and men and the provision of wide access to contraceptives for all women. The Committee urges the State party to reinforce programmes on sexual education for both girls and boys in order to foster responsible sexual behaviour. It also recommends that structures be established aimed at addressing the mental health problems faced by women, as well as those areas where negative developments have occurred.

113.The Committee expresses its concern that the report does not contain sufficient information on the situation of rural women, including older rural women, including with regard to their cash income, social security, access to free health-care services and social and cultural opportunities. It also expresses concern at the situation of women spouses in family business, whose work is not reflected in official statistics.

114. The Committee requests the State party to provide more information and data on the situation of rural women in its next periodic report. The Committee recommends that the State party monitor existing programmes and develop comprehensive policies and programmes aimed at the economic empowerment of rural women, ensuring their access to training, productive resources and capital, as well as to health-care services, social security and to social and cultural opportunities.

115. The Committee urges the State party to accept the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

116. The Committee also urges the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

117. The Committee requests that the State party respond in its next periodic report to the specific issues raised in these concluding comments. It also requests that the report address the general recommendations of the Committee and provide information on the impact of legislation, policies and programmes to implement the Convention.

118. The Committee requests the State party to disseminate widely the present concluding comments in Estonia and to support their public discussion, in order to make politicians and government administrators, women’s non-governmental organizations and the public at large aware of the steps required to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women. 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, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

Trinidad and Tobago

119.The Committee considered the combined initial, second and third periodic report of Trinidad and Tobago (CEDAW/C/TTO/1-3) at its 536th and 537th meetings, on 21 January, and its 547th meeting on 29 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.536, 537 and 547).

(a)Introduction by the State party

120.In introducing the combined initial, second and third report, the representative of Trinidad and Tobago regretted that, despite its efforts, the Government had fallen behind in its reporting obligations under article 18 of the Convention and had not submitted its report until January 2001.

121.A significant reason for the delay in submitting the report had been that no mechanism existed to deal with reporting under international human rights treaties and insufficient resources had been allocated for that purpose. In 1999, a Human Rights Unit was created within the Ministry of the Attorney-General for the preparation of reports required under international instruments. In order to assist the Unit, a Human Rights Committee, comprising representatives of some 13 ministries of the Government and one representative from the Tobago House of Assembly, had been established.

122.Upon the completion of the report, the Attorney-General tabled it before Parliament, outlining its content and the significance of the Convention. The report had been widely distributed, including to Government ministries, secondary schools, non-governmental and community-based organizations, international human rights organizations and public libraries.

123.By its accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago had expressed its commitment to the global struggle to eliminate discrimination faced by women and to the promotion of their enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Encouraged by the review of its implementation by the General Assembly in 2000, the Government had also pledged itself to implement the actions identified in the Beijing Platform for Action. Non-governmental and community-based women’s organizations assisted the Government in the implementation of the Convention. The Ministry of Community Development and Gender Affairs sought to address all forms of gender inequality and inequity through its Gender Affairs Division.

124.The representative indicated that the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago explicitly prohibited discrimination on the ground of sex and enshrined equality and the protection of the law. Equal opportunity legislation to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, marital status or disability in the fields of employment, education, the provision of goods and services and accommodation had been passed and would enter into force following the appointment of the Equal Opportunity Commission and Tribunal. Legislation preventing employers from discriminating against female employees on account of pregnancy had been passed. The Cohabitational Relationships Act, regulating the rights of cohabiting couples, had entered into force in 1998.

125.Gender-based violence, including sexual attacks on women and young girls, was pervasive and had long been a matter of grave concern for the Government. Between 1990 and 1996, 39 domestic violence-related murders had been committed in the country. A comprehensive programme against domestic violence had been launched, the components of which included the establishment of a 24-hour national domestic violence hotline, a Domestic Violence Unit within the Gender Affairs Division, a male support programme and 19 community-based drop-in information centres. A Community Policing Section had been established within the police service; and the Government was developing a national policy on domestic violence.

126.In 1999, the Domestic Violence Act 1991 had been repealed and replaced with legislation reflecting international standards, while the Legal Aid and Advice Act had been amended to allow more people, including women victims of domestic violence, to qualify for legal aid. The law relating to sexual offences had been amended to increase penalties for such offences and to penalize all forms of sexual violation, including rape and sexual assault within marriage. Progress had also been made in the implementation of legislation, in particular legal reforms implementing the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to protect and promote the rights of children. A national survey, completed in June 1997, indicated that some children and adolescents were involved in prostitution and pornography, but there was no evidence of the sale of children.

127.Women had limited economic power and predominated in the lowest paid and least protected employment sectors. Women continued to be underrepresented in positions of power and decision-making. Especially in the private sector, few women have been able to ascend to the very top occupational levels and, despite their educational qualifications, women continue to be underpaid in every sector of employment, except when employed by the State. A “Women’s Leadership Enhancement Institute” within the Gender Affairs Division, and a “Women’s Second Chance Programme” had been introduced to address that problem. In 1996, Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to enact a Counting of Unremunerated Work Act to ensure that the unremunerated work of women is recorded and calculated. It had also enacted a Minimum Wage Act to provide all workers with a minimum level of pay by establishing a single economywide minimum wage.

128.Poverty was more widespread among single parent female-headed households and those headed by women who had received limited education. The Government was committed to improving the standard of living of poor women and their families by increasing their access to capital, resources, credit, land, technology, information, technical assistance and training. The Government, as part of its commitment to provide free secondary education for all students, had undertaken two pilot projects to train women in non-traditional areas, including masonry, plumbing, technical drawing and electrical installation.

129.In order to address gender stereotyping, a task force had been convened to review the educational curriculum for primary schools and another would be established to review the curriculum of secondary schools. A “dollar for dollar” programme, allowing every citizen to pursue the equivalent of an Associate or Bachelor’s degree at half the cost of the programme, had been implemented to expand access to tertiary education.

130.The Government was committed to ensuring that women enjoyed the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health and well-being throughout their lives. The provision of accessible and affordable primary and secondary health care, including sexual and reproductive health care, were among the Government’s priorities.

131.In concluding, the representative highlighted the efforts of the Women’s Leadership and Enhancement Institute of the Division of Gender Affairs to increase the participation of women in politics, which had included the holding of a regional conference held in July 2001. Female Ministers in the Government now included the Attorney-General, the Minister of Community Development and Gender Affairs, the Minister of Social Development and the Minister of Education. Although those developments were promising, the representative indicated that the Government recognized that more work was needed to increase the participation of women in politics and in Parliament.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

132.The Committee commends the State party on its report, which, although presented with some delay, complied with the Committee’s guidelines.

133.The Committee commends the State party on the open and frank presentation of the delegation and the detailed responses to the oral questions posed by the Committee.

Positive aspects

134.The Committee particularly welcomes the creation of a Human Rights Unit within the Ministry of the Attorney-General to strengthen Trinidad and Tobago’s capacity to report to international human rights treaty bodies. It encourages the State party to continue its efforts to fulfil its international reporting obligations.

135.The Committee also welcomes the recognition given by the State party to the role played by a number of active non-governmental organizations and community-based women’s organizations in the country, which assist the State party in its efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

136.The Committee notes with appreciation the extensive law reform initiated in Trinidad and Tobago since independence and appreciates the efforts made to repeal or amend legal provisions which discriminate against women. The Committee welcomes, in particular, the Counting of Unremunerated Work Act of 1996. The Committee notes with satisfaction that, since the repeal in 2000 of sections 5 (1) and 5 (3) of the Sexual Offences Act No. 27 of 1986, marital rape is a criminal offence in Trinidad and Tobago.

137.The Committee commends the State party for its comprehensive programme to combat domestic violence through such initiatives as a 24-hour hotline, the establishment of a Domestic Violence Unit within the Gender Affairs Division, a male support programme and community-based drop-in information centres. The Committee commends the State party for steps to provide emergency legal aid, in particular in cases of domestic violence.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

138.The Committee notes that the entrenched stereotypical attitudes with regard to the role of women and men and the persistence of gender-based violence within the society constitute obstacles to the full implementation of the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

139.The Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic legislation. The Committee regrets, in particular, that article 1 of the Convention which defines “discrimination against women” is not part of the legislation of the State party.

140. The Committee recommends that the State party give consideration to the incorporation of the Convention into domestic law. It points particularly to the importance of the incorporation of article 1 of the Convention. The Committee requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report, including information on whether the Convention has been invoked before domestic courts.

141.The Committee notes with concern that, despite provisions in the Constitution, laws exist in the State party which may allow for discrimination against women.

142. The Committee recommends that an inventory be made of the laws that discriminate against women, with a view to their revision, amendment or repeal.

143.The Committee is concerned that the apparent lack of coordination among government bodies tasked with the oversight of gender issues and a failure to allocate responsibility for activities may compromise gender mainstreaming activities and that national women’s machinery may be affected adversely by limited human and financial resources.

144. The Committee encourages gender mainstreaming in all government ministries, as well as the creation of an impact assessment of these efforts. It recommends that the State party clearly define the mandates of the various committees and councils concerned with gender issues and the level of interaction among them. The Committee encourages the State party to continue its process of restructuring the national machinery and to allocate the necessary human and financial resources to ensure effective implementation of governmental policies and programmes related to gender equality. It also encourages gender mainstreaming in all ministries.

145.The Committee expresses concern that, despite innovative legislation, policies and programmes, violence against women remains a serious reality that is being perpetuated by deeply rooted traditional patriarchal attitudes, apparently tolerated by society.

146. The Committee urges the State party to place a high priority on measures to address violence against women in the family and in society in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 19 and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. The Committee recommends that the State party introduce further measures to raise public awareness about violence against women and urges the State party to strengthen its activities and programmes to focus on sexual violence, incest and prostitution.

147.The Committee is concerned about the entrenched stereotypical attitudes and behaviour with regard to the roles of women and men in the family and in society which tend to reinforce women’s inferior status in many sectors of public life.

148. The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent measures to overcome traditional stereotypes regarding the role of women and men in society. The Committee emphasizes that a policy of gender equality in compliance with the Convention will require the reconceptualization of the role of women in society from that of mother and wife, exclusively responsible for children and the family, to that of individual person and actor in society.

149.The Committee is concerned about women’s underrepresentation in politics and economic leadership. It is concerned that factors impeding women’s participation in these areas include stereotypical attitudes, women’s disproportionate share of household and family responsibilities, as well as structural and cultural barriers, such as the lack of maternity leave for women parliamentarians, which reinforce the idea that politics is a male sphere.

150. The Committee recommends the introduction of strategies to increase the number of women in decision-making bodies at all levels and in all areas. To this end, the Committee recommends that the State party utilize temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention to increase the number of women in decision-making levels in government, governmental bodies, public administration and State-owned enterprises. It also recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to organize special training programmes for women and to conduct on a regular basis, awareness-raising campaigns in this regard.

151.The Committee is concerned that, despite high educational qualifications, women continue to be underpaid in every sector of employment, except the State employment sector. It is also concerned about the consequences of gender stereotyping in curricula and the impact of the fact that girls take traditional “female” courses and boys traditional “male” courses on women’s employment options and income. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of specific legislation prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace and providing a remedy for victims of sexual harassment.

152. The Committee encourages the State party to analyse the lack of correlation between the high level of education attained by women and their income levels; it urges the State party to implement curriculum reform and the revision of textbooks in order to combat traditional attitudes towards women and to help to create an enabling environment for women’s presence in high-level and well-paid positions. It also recommends that the State party avail itself of existing research and practice with regard to equal pay for work of equal and comparable value in order to overcome inequality in pay. The Committee further recommends that sexual harassment in the workplace, including in the private sector, should be penalized, and remedies provided for those affected.

153.The Committee is concerned that, although domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage under the new Minimum Wage Order, they are not included within the definition of “worker” in the Industrial Relations Act.

154. The Committee calls upon the State party to bring domestic workers within the definition of “worker” in the Industrial Relations Act.

155.The Committee is concerned at the high incidence of poverty among various groups of women, in particular female heads of households. The Committee recognizes that women-headed households have been negatively affected by structural adjustment programmes and the changing global situation.

156. The Committee requests the State party to provide additional information on the programmes and projects that have been implemented to combat the negative impact of structural adjustment programmes on women, and in particular households headed by women, and to ensure that governmental policies to eradicate poverty are continuous, incorporate a gender perspective and do not marginalize women.

157.The Committee is concerned that child marriages are sanctioned under several of the legal regimes regulating marriage. The Committee notes that such marriages are prohibited by article 16, paragraph 2, of the Convention, and that such marriages have serious consequences for girls, including with regard to health. The Committee is concerned about the high rate of teenage pregnancy and its consequences for girls’ enjoyment of the rights guaranteed by the Convention, in particular in the sphere of education.

158. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that all its minimum age of marriage laws and other programmes to prevent early marriage are in line with the obligations of the Convention. The Committee also recommends that Trinidad and Tobago introduce appropriate policies and programmes for sex education and family planning education.

159.The Committee is concerned that family planning programmes appear to be aimed only at women and there is limited emphasis on male responsibility in this regard.

160. The Committee recommends the introduction of programmes to encourage men to take part in family planning responsibilities.

161.The Committee is concerned at the absence of details on any public policy for rural women, including in respect to employment and health. It is particularly concerned about the situation of older women in rural areas.

162. The Committee urges the State party to include in its next report more information and data on the situation of rural women, and of older rural women in particular, and on any policy aimed at their economic empowerment as well as their access to employment and health-care services.

163. The Committee requests the State party to respond in its next periodic report to the specific issues raised in the present concluding comments. It also requests the State party to provide in its next report an assessment of the impact of measures taken to implement the Convention.

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

165. The Committee also urges the State party to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

166. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Trinidad and Tobago of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Trinidad and Tobago, in particular governmental administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken with regard to de jure and de facto equality for women and of the future steps that are required in that regard. It requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, and in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the general recommendations of the Committee, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

3.Combined second and third periodic report

Uruguay

167.The Committee considered the combined second and third periodic report of Uruguay (CEDAW/C/URY/2-3) at its 541st and 542nd meetings, on 24 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.541 and 542).

(a)Introduction by the State party

168.In introducing the periodic report, the representative of Uruguay noted that while her country’s authorities had intended to send a representative with direct expertise in the gender area, that had regrettably not been possible, owing to budget cuts made as a result of the economic and financial problems that the country had recently experienced.

169.The representative went on to explain that, during the period between her country’s submission of its initial report in 1985 and the present, there had been a steady evolution, and progress of various kinds had been made in the effective implementation of women’s rights.

170.At the governmental level, progress had been made in several areas, including the establishment of the National Institute for Family and Women’s Affairs, the Commission on Women’s Rights in support of the Institute’s activities, the Tripartite Commission on Equal Opportunities and Treatment in Employment and the Interministerial Commission responsible for designing and implementing policies to reduce domestic violence, as well as the enactment of supplementary norms relating to women workers in the public and private sectors who are pregnant or breastfeeding and the prohibition against their dismissal and, lastly, the implementation of various actions to improve health education, programmes to control teenage pregnancy, programmes on sexually transmitted diseases and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and cancer prevention programmes.

171.The representative also stated that in recent years there had been various parliamentary initiatives to promote women’s rights, such as the establishment of the Commission on Women’s Human Rights and the Commission on Gender and Equity.

172.The representative mentioned, in particular, the initiatives carried out by the Municipal Administration of Montevideo, which had, inter alia, established a Commission on Women to deal specifically with all questions relating to women; that had been the starting-point for similar actions in other municipal administrations throughout the country.

173.The representative also noted that while there had been issues on which final answers had not yet been reached, very intense debates had been opened up that would undoubtedly culminate in specific advances; among those issues were the establishment of the post of Ombudsman or Public Defender, and abortion, on which there were a number of initiatives that legislators were considering.

174.The representative pointed to a number of advances in the international arena, including the ratification of legal instruments, such as the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, in 1996, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in 2001.

175.The representative said it was regrettable that the progress cited had been insufficient, as various obstacles, particularly scarce resources, had slowed the implementation of the actions envisaged. For that reason, action by international organizations, such as international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), was of major importance, particularly on all issues relating to women; many of the advances made would not have been secured without their effective efforts. The representative also mentioned the actions carried out in the domestic violence area, with regard to both the national telephone service and shelters for victims, and the NGO studies, research and analyses which had yielded concrete data essential to diagnosing certain situations (ethnic minorities), thereby making it easier to resolve them and facilitating the Government’s task.

176.Lastly, the representative stated that, while much remained to be done, there were ever greater efforts to make equal rights for women a reality, not only in the legislative area but also in practice.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

177.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the Government of Uruguay on its second and third periodic report, while regretting the fact that the report was submitted with some delay and does not comply with the Committee’s guidelines.

178.The Committee, while thanking the Deputy Permanent Representative for her oral presentation, regrets the descriptive and general nature of both the report and the discussion, as a result of which the Committee has not been afforded a complete picture of the legal and social status of women in Uruguay, or of the progress made in the implementation of the Convention since the country prepared its initial report, considered in 1985.

Positive aspects

179.The Committee commends the State party on its prompt ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

180.The Committee takes note of the fact that the Constitution guarantees the protection of the rights of women and men, as individuals and as groups, and that reference is made in particular to the right of amparo.

181.The Committee notes with satisfaction that a significant number of Uruguayan women are highly educated and have a high rate of participation in the labour market.

182.The Committee notes the importance of the National Programme for Women to promote actions to improve the status of women. The Committee acknowledges the efforts of the State party to implement the Convention by initiating various programmes.

183.The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Citizen Security Act defines domestic violence as a distinct offence.

184.The Committee commends the State party on its initiative to encourage the participation of women’s non-governmental organizations in programmes for the implementation of the Convention.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

185.The Committee notes that deep-rooted, stereotypical attitudes concerning the roles of men and women constitute an obstacle to the full implementation of the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

186.The Committee is concerned that, despite the existence of Act 16,045 of June 1989, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex, the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic legislation. In particular, it regrets that article 1 of the Convention, which defines “discrimination against women” is not part of Uruguayan legislation.

187. The Committee recommends that the State party give further consideration to the incorporation of the Convention into domestic legislation. It points particularly to the importance of the incorporation of article 1 of the Convention and requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report, including information on whether the Convention has been invoked before domestic courts.

188.The Committee expresses concern that Uruguayan women make little use of existing judicial remedies for the protection and enjoyment of their rights, including the remedy of amparo.

189. The Committee requests the State party to include more information in its next periodic report on mechanisms and procedures available to women for the protection and promotion of their rights.

190.The Committee expresses its concern that the National Institute for Family and Women’s Affairs, as a national mechanism for the advancement of women, has no real power to initiate and implement regulatory measures designed to eliminate discrimination against women. The Committee is concerned that the national mechanism may have inadequate financial and human resources.

191. The Committee recommends that the State party clearly define the mandates of the various institutions and commissions and the level of interaction between them. The Committee encourages the State party to allocate the national machinery to the human and financial resources required to ensure the effective implementation of governmental policies and programmes for gender equality. It also encourages the State party to mainstream a gender perspective within all the ministries, and to establish mechanisms for assessing its impact.

192.The Committee expresses concern at the continuing existence of stereotypes relating to the role of women in the family and society, and at deep-rooted attitudes and conduct based on the assumed superiority of men in the public and private spheres. It is a matter of concern to the Committee that the State party attaches little importance to this problem and thus encourages the persistence of such stereotypes, which are an obstacle to the implementation of the Convention.

193. The Committee urges the State party to adopt measures to eliminate social stereotypes in Uruguay. It urges the State party to concentrate on increasing women’s participation in all areas, particularly decision-making, and on prevailing on men to share family responsibilities. It urges the State party to strengthen its awareness-raising programmes, and to take action to change stereotyped attitudes and perceptions as to men’s and women’s roles and responsibilities.

194.The Committee expresses concern that, despite the efforts made, a comprehensive approach is not being taken towards the prevention and elimination of violence against women, particularly as regards domestic violence, crimes of honour and the punishment of offenders. The Committee notes that despite the legislative action taken under the Citizen Security Act, violence against women, particularly domestic violence, remains a serious problem in Uruguay.

195. Recalling its general recommendation 19 on violence against women the Committee urges the State party to assess the impact of the current legal, policy and programmatic measures to deal with the various forms of violence against women, as well as to adopt a specific domestic violence act, incorporating measures for prevention, punishment of offenders and protection of victims. Bearing in mind that account must be taken of the underlying causes of violence against women, and domestic violence should be investigated with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of legislation, policies and programmes to combat it, the Committee also recommends that the State party continue the training and awareness-raising programmes for judicial personnel, law enforcement officials and members of the legal and health professions, as well as awareness-raising measures to ensure that society will not tolerate any form of violence against women. The Committee encourages the State party to strengthen its collaboration with civil society and non-governmental organizations with respect to violence against women. It also recommends the allocation of funding commensurate with the high priority that efforts to combating such violence should have.

196.The Committee expresses concern that the Penal Code still contains several provisions that discriminate against women. The Committee is concerned at article 116 which provides for mitigation of sentence where a rapist marries his victim. It is also concerned at article 328, which provides that “protecting the honour of the perpetrator, the spouse and a close relative” may be a factor mitigating sentence in cases of induced abortion.

197. The Committee calls on the State party to give priority to the repeal of these articles of the Penal Code so as to bring the Code into line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its general recommendations, in particular 19 on violence against women, and 24 on article 12 — women and health.

198.The Committee notes that although Uruguayan women are highly educated and have a high rate of labour-market participation, this is not reflected in their employment status and conditions, particularly with respect to private-sector pay. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned at the high proportion of women in the service sector, especially personal services, an area in which pay is traditionally low.

199. The Committee recommends that both in the public and in the private sector the State party endeavour to ensure strict compliance with labour legislation, and take action to eliminate discrimination in employment and with respect to pensions and private-sector pay, as well as promoting participation by women in sectors traditionally regarded as male.

200.The Committee is concerned at the low participation of women in politics and government administration, particularly as regards decision-making.

201. The Committee urges the State party to take appropriate action and implement broad strategies, including temporary special measures under article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, with a view to promoting greater participation by women in public life, particularly decision-making and promoting changes in attitudes and perceptions, held by both women and men, as regards their respective roles in the household, the family, at work and in society as a whole. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party take account of general recommendations 21 concerning equality in marriage and family relations, and 23 concerning women in public life, that it should strengthen and step up action to promote awareness of the importance of the role, activities and many contributions of women in the community and in the family, and that it should in general promote equality of men and women with respect to rights and opportunities.

202.The Committee notes with concern the high pregnancy rates among adolescents, and that young adolescents make up a high proportion of this group. It also notes the high rate of deaths related to abortion among adolescents.

203. The Committee recommends that the State party examine the situation of adolescents as a matter of priority, and urges it to take action to ensure that effective reproductive and sexual health services are provided and that due attention is paid to the information requirements of adolescents, including through programmes and policies to provide information on the different kinds of contraceptives available and how they are to be obtained, on the basis of the principle that family planning is the responsibility of both the man and the woman. The Committee requests the State party to include information on the impact of programmes to reduce and prevent pregnancy among adolescents in its next periodic report.

204.The Committee expresses concern that the Civil Code still contains provisions, including those with respect to early marriage, that discriminate against women.

205. The Committee urges the State party to actively promote the elimination of discriminatory legal provisions that still exist, particularly in the Civil Code in matters relating to the family, and to bring Uruguayan legislation into line with the Convention, including article 16.2 relating to minimum age for marriage.

206.The Committee is concerned that there is limited awareness, including among legal and law enforcement personnel, of the provisions of the Convention and the procedures available under its Optional Protocol.

207. The Committee recommends that educational programmes on the Convention, the Optional Protocol and women’s rights be introduced, in particular for the judiciary, law enforcement officials and lawyers. The Committee also recommends that steps be taken to increase the number of women occupying high positions in the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.

208.The Committee is concerned that the report does not contain information on the situation of minorities in the State party, and in particular, that of black women.

209. The Committee requests the State party to include information on the situation of minority women in its next periodic report.

210.The Committee is concerned that the report did not contain information on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the State party.

211. The Committee recommends that, where appropriate, the State party implement the commitments of the Platform for Action. In particular, it recommends the immediate adoption of an equal opportunity plan which can place the National Programme for Women on a solid legal basis. It also encourages the State party to mainstream a gender perspective within all ministries and to establish procedures for assessing the impact of such mainstreaming.

212. The Committee asks the State party to respond in its next periodic report to the concerns set out in the present concluding comments, under article 18 of the Convention. It also urges the State party to draft future reports in accordance with its guidelines, providing not only a description of the legal framework, but sufficient information supported by statistical data to clarify not only the legal situation of women but also the situation in practice, including obstacles encountered.

213. The Committee urges the State party to accept as soon as possible the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the length of the Committee’s sessions.

214. The Committee requests the State party to disseminate these concluding comments widely in Uruguay and to promote public discussion of them, so as to bring to the attention of politicians, government administrators, non-governmental women’s organizations and the general public the action that must be taken to achieve de jure and de facto equality of men and women. It also requests the State party to continue to ensure wide dissemination, particularly among human rights and women’s organizations, of the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the results 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 third and fourth periodic reports

Iceland

215.The Committee considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Iceland (CEDAW/C/ICE/3-4) at its 532nd and 533rd meetings, on 17 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.532 and 533).

(a)Introduction by the State party

216.In her introduction, the representative of Iceland updated the information contained in the report which covered implementation up to December 1997, indicating that the new information would be contained in Iceland’s fifth periodic report. She also informed the Committee that the Government had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention in March 2001 and was preparing its acceptance of the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention, relating to the Committee’s meeting time.

217.The representative indicated that, in May 2000, a new act on the equal status and equal rights of women and men (the Gender Equality Act), which replaced the former Gender Equality Act of 1991, had been passed. The Act had created a new special institution, the Centre for Gender Equality, administrated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and entrusted with monitoring of the Act’s implementation. The Act provided that institutions and enterprises with more than 25 employees should have a gender equality policy or create special provisions regarding gender equality in their employment policies. The Act prohibited both direct and indirect discrimination and entitled individuals and non-governmental organizations to seek redress from the Complaints Committee on Equal Status. Although the decisions of the Complaints Committee were not binding, the Centre for Gender Equality or the individual concerned could initiate legal proceedings based on the Committee’s opinions.

218.Each Ministry was required to appoint an equality coordinator who was tasked with the mainstreaming of gender equality within the work of the Ministry and its dependent institutions. Since 1991, Iceland had introduced three four-year action programmes on measures to realize gender equality, the latest in 1998. The Centre for Gender Equality had begun preparations for a new Action Plan, for the years 2002-2006, which places greater emphasis on gender mainstreaming and the methods to achieve it. In this respect, the representative stressed the need to increase the involvement of men in equality initiatives.

219.In 2000, a Maternity/Paternity Leave and Parental Leave Act, which would enter fully into force on 1 January 2003, had been passed. The Act constituted a fundamental reform in that it promoted sharing of parental responsibilities and gender equality on the labour market. The representative indicated that implementation of the Act was expected to create greater equality between women and men generally, and in particular reduce the pay gap between women and men, and address women’s low representation in comparison with men’s at the top levels of business management, situations that had resulted in part from the heavy responsibilities that women bore in connection with family and children.

220.The representative noted that trafficking in women and prostitution, potentially associated with the strip clubs that started to open in 1990, were becoming growing concerns for the Icelandic authorities. In cooperation with labour unions, local and national authorities were scrutinizing the activities of strip clubs in order to find ways to curtail the activities of those businesses. The relevant authorities were also preparing measures to address the issue of prostitution.

221.In September 1998, the Minister of Social Affairs had appointed a Committee for a five-year period, to seek to increase women’s participation in politics, inter alia, through education and information campaigns. The initial task of the Committee was to increase the number of women participating in the 1999 parliamentary elections. Thirty-five per cent of members elected to Parliament in 1999 had been women, in comparison with 25 per cent in 1995. The Committee was currently seeking to increase the number of women in local government, which at present stood at 28.5 per cent. Similarly, in the period 1998-1999, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had recruited women to 50 per cent of all new positions requiring a university degree.

222.At the University of Iceland, women constituted 60.9 per cent of all new students and women represented over 50 per cent of students in disciplines except engineering, economics and computer science. In April 2000, a two-year agreement had been signed in order to strengthen the position of women in the labour market, increase female leadership in economic life and encourage women to choose male-dominated fields of study in higher education.

223.The representative highlighted the fact that in 2000, women’s participation in the labour market had been 79 per cent for age group 16-74 in comparison with 88 per cent for men. In age group 55-74 women’s labour-force participation had decreased. Unemployment among women was 1.9 per cent in 2001, and 1 per cent for men. There was a wage differential of 10-16 per cent between women and men, and this differential was the subject of active debate.

224.The representative pointed out that, in 1998, the Office of Gender Equality and the Administration on Occupational Safety and Health had published a study on sexual harassment which confirmed that this was a problem in the workplace. In response, the Gender Equality Act had defined and prohibited sexual harassment.

225.The representative indicated that measures to address violence against women, including sexual violence, as well as violence against children, particularly girls, had been introduced. They included in camera trials for such offences, special procedures to protect victims and witnesses required to provide evidence, as well as restraining orders. Penalties for rape had been increased, and the State Prosecutor usually called for significant penalties in cases of sexual violence.

226.In concluding, the representative noted that, although great progress had been made in implementation of the Convention, much more needed to be done. Efforts towards further implementation included examination of whether and how gender equality was being taken into account in national and local planning and policy-making. A working group, which was currently focusing on bills prepared by the Ministries of Finance, Industry, Commerce and Social Affairs, had also been established to ensure that gender was taken into account in the preparation of legislation.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

227.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party on its combined third and fourth periodic report, which complies with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. The Committee also appreciates the additional information given in response to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and during the oral presentation.

228.The Committee commends the State party for the constructive and frank dialogue with the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

229.The Committee commends the State party for the progress towards gender equality and for its efforts to incorporate gender mainstreaming in its policy framework and at all stages of policy-making processes.

230.The Committee commends the passage of the Gender Equality Act (2000) and the large number of studies, pilot projects and research initiatives conducted in order to advance the equality between women and men.

231.The Committee commends the State party for its recognition of the common responsibility of women and men in the promotion of equality and for having taken a number of measures to involve the participation of men in strategies to increase equality between women and men, inter alia, in the area of paternal leave.

232.The Committee commends the fact that the State party has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention and takes note that it is preparing for acceptance of the amendment to article 20.1 on the Committee’s meeting time.

233.The Committee also welcomes the fact that a number of recommendations in its concluding comments adopted when Iceland last reported have been implemented.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

234.The Committee notes that there are no significant factors or difficulties that prevent the effective implementation of the Convention in Iceland.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

235.The Committee notes with concern that the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic legislation. In particular it regrets that article 1 of the Convention, which defines “discrimination against women”, is not part of Icelandic legislation.

236. The Committee recommends that the State party give further consideration to the incorporation of the Convention into domestic legislation. The Committee points particularly to the importance of the incorporation of article 1 of the Convention. The Committee requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report, including information on whether the Convention has been invoked before domestic courts.

237.The Committee is concerned that the decisions of the Complaints Committee on Equal Status are not binding, inter alia, in cases where government agencies violate the law.

238. The Committee recommends that the State party consider strengthening the enforcement mechanisms of the Complaints Committee, and, in particular, provide that its decisions have binding force.

239.The Committee notes with concern the apparent contradiction between the high level of education of women and the lack of women’s equality in the labour market, particularly the persistent wage gap of 10-16 per cent in the public sector to the detriment of women.

240. The Committee encourages the State party to continue its efforts to address the wage gap for women in the public sector, initiate job evaluations and reduce the gap. The Committee also requests that the State party provide more information on the situation of women in the private sector with regard to the wage gap in its next report to the Committee.

241.The Committee is also concerned that the long-standing high rate of part-time employment of women suggests that, despite the State party’s efforts to facilitate the reconciliation of family life and work, women still bear a larger share of family responsibilities.

242. The Committee encourages the State party to continue its efforts to take measures to assist women and men in striking a balance between family and employment responsibilities, inter alia, through further awareness-raising and education initiatives for both women and men, including with respect to sharing tasks within the family and ensuring that part-time employment is not taken up exclusively by women.

243.The Committee notes that, although progress was made with regard to women’s political representation, women are still underrepresented in elected office, senior positions and the diplomatic service. The Committee is also concerned that despite their high educational achievement, very few women are university professors.

244. The Committee encourages the State party to take further temporary special measures in accordance with article 4.1 of the Convention to increase the representation of women in decision-making positions in all sectors, inter alia, on all public committees. It also recommends that the State party take measures to increase the number of women in senior positions at universities.

245.While noting that the State party has taken a positive legal and welfare approach towards preventing violence against women, including domestic violence, the Committee expresses concern at the light penalties for crimes of sexual violence, including rape.

246. The Committee urges the State party to continue its efforts to implement and strengthen current laws, policies and programmes aimed at combating violence against women, and to increase its awareness-raising activities and work with male perpetrators. It also urges the State party to reconsider the current penal provisions which impose light sentences on perpetrators of sexual violence, including rape. It also encourages the State party to consider the issue of violence against women under the provisions of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 19 on violence against women. The Committee requests the State party to provide more information in the next report on efforts to combat violence against women, including measures taken to provide training of the police and the judiciary.

247.The Committee notes with concern that Iceland may have become a country of destination for trafficking in women.

248. The Committee encourages the State party to continue taking action to combat trafficking in women and, with this aim, to increase international cooperation in this regard.

249.The Committee expresses concern about the change of the pension system, which has negatively impacted on women more than men.

250. The Committee recommends that the State party study the impact of the pension system on women and take appropriate measures to avoid poverty among older women.

251.The Committee expresses concern at the high level of alcohol consumption among women, and the level of alcohol and drug consumption among young people, including girls.

252. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to address alcohol and drug abuse, especially among women and girls.

253. The Committee encourages the State party to continue its preparations for acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

254. The Committee requests the State party to respond in its next report to the outstanding issues raised in constructive dialogue, as well as to the specific issues raised in the present concluding comments. It further requests the State party to provide in its next report an assessment of the impact of measures taken to implement the Convention, in particular with regard to gender mainstreaming.

255. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Iceland of the current concluding comments in order to make the people in Iceland, in particular government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women as well as of further steps that are required in this regard. It also 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 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

Sri Lanka

256.The Committee considered the third and fourth periodic reports of Sri Lanka (CEDAW/C/LKA/3-4) at its 545th and 546th meetings on 28 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.545 and 546).

(a)Introduction by the State party

257.In her introduction, the representative of Sri Lanka informed the Committee that Sri Lanka was sincerely committed to honouring its obligations under the Convention and that efforts to improve the status of women had been made not only in accordance with the country’s obligations as a State party to the Convention, but also pursuant to the principle of equality enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

258.Sri Lanka was a developing country, currently experiencing severe economic constraints resulting primarily from a long period of civil unrest which, besides draining the country’s human and capital resources, also militated against its human development efforts. The representative indicated that approximately one third of the total population of Sri Lanka lived below the poverty line, with government welfare support, and that, despite this, Sri Lanka had sustained positive social indicators, particularly with regard to education and health. According to the 2001 Human Development Report, the human development index for Sri Lanka had risen to 81, while the country’s gender development index was 70.

259.The representative informed the Committee that targeted State interventions had impacted favourably on women. The literacy rate of women had improved, thereby narrowing the literacy gap between women and men, as had women’s educational achievements. Progress was also seen in relation to the increase in women’s participation in the labour force. Women had penetrated into a variety of new fields hitherto dominated by men. Women’s contributions to the country’s foreign exchange earnings through employment overseas — in the export processing zones and the plantation sector — had received recognition, and rural women had been mobilized into economic activity through special savings, credit and skills development programmes.

260.With regard to health issues, the representative informed the Committee that the improvement of delivery systems had resulted in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality rates. She also indicated that the life expectancy of women had surpassed that of men and that women’s visibility in the field of sports had increased.

261.The representative indicated that Sri Lankans’ willingness to recognize gender equality at the highest level had been demonstrated in 1994, when a woman was elected executive President of the country. Sri Lanka continued to focus on: improving the law and order situation to address violence against women; eliminating gender stereotyping; introducing special care programmes for ageing women; introducing programmes for the improvement of the nutritional status of mothers; implementing educational programmes to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among women; encouraging women to take up non-traditional vocations; and empowering women migrant workers and those employed in the export promotion zones. In addition, Sri Lanka continued to focus on providing humanitarian assistance to the families affected by the conflict, creating an enabling environment to motivate women to assume political leadership, engendering legislation and stepping up efforts in gender mainstreaming.

262.The Government had taken several measures to establish administrative mechanisms with proactive mandates in order to prevent abuse and harassment of persons affected by armed conflict, particularly women and children. The representative indicated that the Government was adopting a multi-pronged approach when protecting those internally displaced as a result of the conflict. Plans had been formulated and programmes implemented with respect to humanitarian assistance and compensation, for building temporary shelters and for dealing with resettlement and relocation. The representative informed the Committee that infrastructure facilities for displaced children had been provided and that a scholarship scheme had been introduced. Efforts were now being made by the Government to improve the health conditions of the internally displaced.

263.The representative informed the Committee that upholding human rights during the civil strife was a challenge, but that the Sri Lankan Government had introduced measures to that end. Violence against women and human rights violations committed by security personnel or police were not condoned. Sri Lanka submitted regular reports to the human rights machinery of the United Nations and was preparing to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

264.The representative also stated that, over the preceding four years, the country’s national machinery had been vested with various powers and functions. The new Government, established in December 2001, had directed that every programme contain a gender component and that the gender impact of every programme be assessed. That commitment was expected to provide the leverage for new initiatives for gender mainstreaming throughout the government machinery, facilitating the implementation of the components of the National Plan of Action for Women. The 2002 National Plan of Action for Women highlighted all priority areas of intervention, including the need to address the inadequate participation of women in power-sharing and decision-making processes. The representative stated that the political climate of the recent past was perceived as having created an environment that was detrimental to women’s political participation and that, with a change in the political culture, it was hoped that women would be empowered to become partners in implementing values of good governance. The representative also stated that the Government expected the national legislation giving statutory recognition to the National Commission on Women to be enacted shortly.

265.The representative informed the Committee that the Law Commission of Sri Lanka had been requested to address inequities in national legislation. Reforms to personal laws in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society had to be attempted with due regard and sensitivity to deeply rooted pluralistic and ethnic beliefs.

266.In concluding her presentation, the representative noted that, in order to implement the Convention fully, the Government was working in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and with the support of the donor community. However, in its efforts to honour its obligations under the Convention, the Government was faced with difficulties stemming from both the internal conflict and the external pressures arising from global uncertainties. Sri Lanka hoped the current initiatives towards securing a resolution to its internal conflict would be successful in order that the ensuing peace would bring benefits to Sri Lankan women.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

267.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for submitting its third and fourth periodic reports, which are in accordance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for the written replies to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and for its oral presentation, which provided additional information on the current situation of the implementation of the Convention in Sri Lanka.

268.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation, headed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and including officials from various branches of Government, which enabled a frank and constructive dialogue with the members of the Committee. The Committee notes that governmental action, in particular the National Plan of Action for Women, is placed within the context of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Positive aspects

269.The Committee commends the efforts to implement the Convention despite the difficult socio-political situation. It welcomes efforts to strengthen the national machinery on women, the introduction of gender mainstreaming and the adoption of a range of policies and programmes to eliminate discrimination against women, including the Women’s Charter, the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the National Committee on Women and the formulation of a National Plan of Action for Women.

270.The Committee commends the introduction of legal reforms that have been adopted since 1995, in particular the amendments to the Penal Code, which introduced new offences and more severe punishments with regard to violence against women, as well as the revision of the marriage laws, which increased the age of marriage, except in the case of Muslims, to 18 for both women and men.

271.The Committee commends the educational achievements and improved literacy rate of women, as well as the curriculum reforms and teacher training programmes to eliminate gender role stereotypes. The Committee also commends the easy access to family planning for women and men and the well-developed maternal and child health care system, which has contributed to a decline in maternal mortality.

272.The Committee welcomes the very active and lively participation of women’s organizations in monitoring and implementing the Convention.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

273.The Committee recognizes that armed conflict in the north and east of the country and economic globalization place constraints on the situation of women and pose a serious challenge to the full implementation of the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

274.The Committee expresses concern at the contradiction between the constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights and the existence of laws that discriminate against women. It is also concerned that constitutional provisions on fundamental rights do not create accountability for the actions of non-State actors and the private sector, and the fact that there is no opportunity for judicial review of legislation pre-dating the Constitution. The Committee is also concerned at the existence of discriminatory legislation, such as the Land Development Ordinance, and the provisions allowing for Muslim personal law, which, inter alia, does not provide a minimum age of marriage, as well as the nationality law which precludes Sri Lankan women from passing nationality to their children on an equal footing with men.

275. The Committee urges the State party to review all existing laws and amend discriminatory provisions so that they are compatible with the Convention and the Constitution. It urges the State party to ensure that constitutional rights are applicable to the activities of non-State actors and the private sector. The Committee further recommends that, in its efforts to eliminate discriminatory legislation, the State party take into account, where appropriate, suggestions and recommendations from bodies such as the Muslim personal law reforms committee set up by the Ministry of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs. The Committee also encourages the State party to obtain information on comparative jurisprudence, including that which interprets Islamic law in line with the Convention.

276.While welcoming the efforts of the State party to strengthen the national machinery for women and to introduce gender mainstreaming, the Committee notes with concern that the legal framework, institutional structures and human and financial resources remain insufficient to implement the Convention.

277. The Committee encourages the State party to expedite the establishment of the National Commission on Women, strengthen the gender focal points in government ministries, ensure sufficient human and financial resources for the implementation of the National Plan of Action, and strengthen the implementation of the Women’s Charter, including through giving legal force to its provisions where appropriate to give effect to the principles of the Convention.

278.Despite the fact that women have occupied the position of head of Government of Sri Lanka, the Committee is concerned that, on the whole there is a very low level of representation of women in politics and public life.

279. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to increase the representation of women in politics and public life at the local, provincial and national levels, including through the implementation of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

280.Despite the progress in education for women and girls, the Committee is concerned about the underrepresentation of women in engineering and technology-related courses in tertiary education.

281. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to increase the representation of women in engineering and technology-related courses in tertiary education.

282.The Committee is concerned that women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest have to endure significant physical and mental torture.

283. The Committee encourages the State party to reintroduce legislation to permit termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest and congenital abnormality of the foetus.

284.The Committee expresses its concern about the high incidence of violence against women, including domestic violence. The Committee is concerned that no specific legislation has been enacted to combat domestic violence and that there is a lack of systematic data collection on violence against women, in particular domestic violence. The Committee, while appreciating the many amendments to the Penal Code, notes with concern that marital rape is recognized only in the case of judicial separation. The Committee is also concerned that the police fail to respond to complaints of violence against women with gender sensitivity and effectively.

285. The Committee urges the State party to ensure the full implementation of all legal and other measures relating to violence against women, to monitor the impact of those measures and to provide women victims of violence with accessible and effective means of redress and protection. In the light of its general recommendation 19, the Committee requests the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence as soon as possible. The Committee recommends that the State party devise a structure for systematic data collection on violence against women, including domestic violence, disaggregated by sex and ethnic group. The Committee urges the State party to consider recognizing marital rape in all circumstances as a crime. The Committee recommends that the State party provide comprehensive training to the judiciary, police, medical personnel and other relevant groups on all forms of violence against women.

286.The Committee is alarmed by the high and severe incidences of rape and other forms of violence targeted against Tamil women by the police and security forces in the conflict areas. While recognizing the prohibition of torture in the Constitution and the establishment of the inter-ministerial working group to counter these acts of violence, the Committee is concerned that victims in remote areas might be unaware of their rights and of the manner in which to seek redress.

287. The Committee urges the State party to monitor strictly the behaviour of the police and the security forces, to ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice and to take all necessary measures to prevent acts of violence against all women.

288.The Committee, while noting with appreciation the efforts of the State party to eliminate gender role stereotyping in formal education, expresses concern at the perpetuation of traditional stereotyped gender roles among the general public and in the media.

289. The Committee calls upon the State party to strengthen measures to eliminate stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including awareness-raising and educational campaigns directed at both women and men of the general public and at the media. It also calls upon the State party to undertake an assessment of the impact of its measures in order to identify shortcomings and to adjust and improve these measures accordingly.

290.The Committee is concerned about the low level of women’s economic participation, the high unemployment rate of women, the inadequate protection for women working in the informal sector, such as domestic service and the weak enforcement of laws to protect women workers in the export processing zones. The Committee is also concerned that no data is available on the wage gap between women and men.

291. The Committee urges the State party to take all the necessary measures to increase the economic participation of women and ensure that women have equal access to the labour market and equal opportunities to, and at, work. The Committee calls on the State party to provide adequate protection and ensure the enforcement of labour laws for the benefit of all women workers in all areas. The Committee recommends that sex-disaggregated data on income distribution and wages be collected and included in the next report and that the State party take measures to ensure that a gender perspective is incorporated into all labour policies.

292.The Committee is concerned about the increasing number of women who migrate from Sri Lanka in search of work and find themselves in situations where they are vulnerable. Despite the protective measures taken by the State party, including mandatory registration and insurance coverage, these women are often subjected to abuse and sometimes death.

293. The Committee urges the State party to ensure the full and effective enforcement of the measures taken to protect women migrant workers, including preventing the activities of illegal employment agencies and ensuring that insurance covers the disabled and jobless after they return to Sri Lanka.

294.Noting that the majority of women live in rural areas, the Committee is concerned that economic policies do not incorporate a gender perspective and do not take into account rural women’s role as producers.

295. The Committee urges the State party to recognize rural women’s contributions to the economy by collecting sex-disaggregated data on rural production and to ensure the incorporation of a gender perspective in all development programmes, with special attention to minority rural women.

296.The Committee is concerned about the high percentage of households headed by women, many of whom are elderly, many illiterate and with meagre means of living.

297. The Committee urges the State party to develop policies and programmes to improve the situation of women-headed households and elderly women, including recognizing women-headed households as equal recipients and beneficiaries of development programmes.

298.The Committee expresses its concern about the continued situation of armed conflict in the north and east of Sri Lanka and the increase of internally displaced persons, the majority of whom are women and children.

299. The Committee urges the State party to allocate more resources to meet the needs of internally displaced women and children and to ensure their privacy, access to health facilities, security and protection from violence. The Committee calls on the State party to ensure full and equal participation of women in the process of conflict resolution and peace-building.

300. The Committee urges the State party to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to deposit, as soon as possible, its instrument of acceptance of the amendment of article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention on the meeting time of the Committee.

301. 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, in particular, requests the State party to provide information on the assessment and impact of all laws, policies, plans, programmes and other measures taken to implement the Convention.

302. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Sri Lanka of the current concluding comments in order to make the people in Sri Lanka, in particular government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women as well as of further steps that are required in this regard. It also 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 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

5.Fourth and fifth periodic reports

Portugal

303.The Committee considered the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Portugal (CEDAW/C/PRT/4 and CEDAW/C/PRT/5) at its 534th and 535th meetings, on 18 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.534 and 535).

(a)Introduction by the State party

304.In introducing the fourth and fifth periodic reports, the representative of Portugal emphasized her country’s commitment to the attainment of equality between women and men as an integral part of its respect for democracy. De jure equality was a reality in Portugal, but work had to be done to achieve de facto equality. Measures to achieve equality had been placed under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister in 1995 and, in 1996, the post of High Commissioner for Equality and Family had been created. In 1999, the post of Minister for Equality had been established and its functions absorbed by the Minister of the Presidency. In July 2001, the post of Secretary of State only for Gender Equality had been created and placed in the portfolio of the Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister.

305.As a measure of Portugal’s commitment to strengthening the implementation of the Convention and other international instruments, ratification of the Optional Protocol had been approved by Parliament, and the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention had been accepted.

306.The representative stressed that the issue of de facto equality was a concern for the Government, and it was imperative to strengthen women’s and men’s balanced participation in society, particularly in the areas of labour, decision-making, family and social protection, and education and to eliminate prevailing gender stereotypes. Obstacles linked to traditional stereotyping had hampered efforts to achieve full equality between women and men and the implementation of the Convention. Two draft laws to achieve equality in political participation at all levels, and to provide compulsory paid parental leave had been introduced in 2001, but because of the political changes in Portugal, they would not be adopted during the current parliamentary period.

307.Many legislative and policy changes, as well as plans and programmes to achieve equality between women and men, had been introduced. In May 2001, legislation providing the Commission for Equality in Work and Employment (CITE) and the General Labour Inspection with additional powers, in particular with regard to investigation of sex-based discrimination in the workplace, employment and in vocational training programmes had been enacted. A second law requiring that the Government provide Parliament with an annual report on the status of equality in employment, the workplace and vocational training programmes had also been enacted. The collection of gender-sensitive information and data had improved and publications, awareness-raising campaigns and seminars and training on gender equality had contributed to better understanding by the public of gender equality issues.

308.The representative noted that her country had almost completed the elaboration of the Second National Plan for Equality between women and men following the objectives established in the Law on General Principles for 2002. The Law and Plan envisaged restructuring the Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights (CEWR) and the CITE. The Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister had indicated that the next budgets would be gender-based.

309.The representative emphasized the positive impact in Portugal of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women, in particular with regard to the policies of the Governments elected in 1995 and 1999. She highlighted the constitutional amendments adopted in 1997, which included the promotion of equality between women and men as a basic State responsibility, noting that that provided the necessary legal basis for affirmative actions. Other amendments related to the inclusion in the chapter of rights, liberties and guarantees, legal protection against all forms of discrimination; recognition of the right to reconcile professional and family life for all workers; and consideration that direct and active participation in political life by men and women was a condition of the democratic system and that the law should ensure the promotion of equality in the exercise of civil and political rights and access to public office free of sex-based discrimination.

310.The representative described a series of plans and programmes based on the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action, which included: the 1997 Global Plan for Equal Opportunities, which created the Observatory for Equality in Collective Bargaining, which was a very important tool in the reduction of salary discrimination; and the 1999 National Plan against Domestic Violence. In 1999, the law on maternity and paternity protection had been amended to provide, inter alia, fathers with five days of paid leave during the first month of a child’s life and 15 days of paid leave to be taken after maternity or paternity leave. The amended Law also provided for two hours of breastfeeding breaks daily and an entitlement for either the mother or the father to take two hours a day from work to feed a child during its first year. Legislation had extended paid maternity leave to 120 days and increased the penalties for employers who discriminated on the basis of sex or violated the maternity/paternity protective measures.

311.The representative noted that Portugal had benefited from its membership in the European Union and had introduced a series of initiatives while it had held the European Union presidency, namely promoting all aspects of equal opportunities, facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life and aiming, in particular, at increasing the number of women in employment to 60 per cent by 2010, and various conferences on measures to eliminate domestic violence and reconcile professional and family life. Special attention had also been given to the coordination of the European Union’s contribution to the Beijing+5 process and the review of the International Labour Organization Convention concerning Maternity Protection.

312.The representative noted that non-governmental organizations had greatly contributed to the advancement of women, both as individual associations and collectively as members of the Consultative Council within the Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of non-governmental organizations had increased from 24 to 49, and government subsidies for non-governmental organizations had increased fivefold.

313.Pursuant to the Beijing Platform for Action, Portugal had addressed violence against women through the adoption of various measures, such as the creation of a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week free help line, and the establishment of a network of reception centres for women victims of domestic violence. A formal complaint from the victim of domestic violence was no longer a precondition for prosecution, indemnities to women victims of domestic violence had been introduced, police training had been carried out and specific victim-friendly locations in police stations for victims of domestic violence had been set aside.

314.In concluding her presentation, the representative indicated that inequality between women and men continued to be felt in Portugal despite legal reform and the adoption of international obligations. However, she expressed the view that, since the identification of the causes of the inequality, which had caused such harm to women in public life and men in the private sphere, effective measures that eliminated structural inequalities between women and men could be introduced.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

315.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for submitting its fourth and fifth periodic reports. It commends the State party for the written replies to the issues raised by the pre-session working group, the supplementary information submitted to the Committee and the State party’s oral presentation, which provided additional information on the current situation of the implementation of the Convention in Portugal.

316.The Committee commends the State party on its delegation, headed by the Secretary of State for Equality, and including officials from various branches of the Government.

317.The Committee notes that governmental action, including the Global Plan for Equal Opportunities, is placed within the context of the provisions of the Convention and the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Positive aspects

318.The Committee commends the Government of Portugal on its commitment to achieving equality and equal opportunities for women, reflected in the progress it has made in implementing the Convention since the consideration of the third periodic report in 1991. The Committee notes with appreciation the range of laws, institutions, policies, plans and programmes put in place to address discrimination against women in Portugal.

319.The Committee welcomes the amendments to the Constitution adopted in 1997, which, inter alia, established the promotion of equality between women and men as a fundamental task of the State. The Committee also welcomes other legislative reforms, including those relating to maternity and paternity leave.

320.The Committee welcomes the 1998 revision of the Penal Code which made violence against women a public offence, rendered police investigation of such offences mandatory and criminalized sexual harassment in the workplace.

321.The Committee notes with satisfaction the high level of women’s educational achievement and the increasing diversification in the types of studies pursued by women. The Committee commends the State party on its efforts to recruit women into the police forces and on its system to disseminate information on violence against women.

322.The Committee commends the State party for recognizing stereotypical attitudes as a major source of women’s continuing disadvantage and welcomes the different means to address such attitudes, including awareness-raising campaigns and emphasis on shared responsibility in the family.

323.The Committee commends the State party for having accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and welcomes the steps taken towards ratification of the Optional Protocol.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

324.The Committee notes that there are no significant factors or difficulties that prevent the effective implementation of the Convention in Portugal.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

325.The Committee, while noting the wealth of information concerning laws, policies, plans and programmes designed to ensure compliance with the Convention, is nonetheless concerned at the general absence of assessment and impact of those measures on women.

326. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, information on the assessment and impact of all laws, policies, plans, programmes and other measures taken to eliminate discrimination against women in all areas of their lives. The Committee also requests the State party to set time frames within which it intends to achieve its goals.

327.While recognizing the efforts made by the State party to integrate a gender perspective into all policies, the Committee is concerned about the limited resources available for the machinery responsible for gender equality.

328. The Committee urges the State party to increase the financial and human resources available for the machinery and all policies and programmes to eliminate discrimination against women.

329.While recognizing the State party’s efforts to address the problem of stereotypes relating to the roles of women in the family and society, the Committee remains concerned at the persistence of these stereotypes and the continuing stereotypical portrayal of women in the media.

330. The Committee calls upon the State party to strengthen measures to change stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including awareness-raising and educational campaigns directed at both women and men, as well as the media, in order to achieve de facto equality between women and men. It further calls on the State party to encourage the media to contribute to the societal efforts at overcoming such attitudes, and to create opportunities for a positive, non-traditional portrayal of women.

331.While welcoming the measures taken to combat violence against women, including the revisions to the Penal Code providing for the crime of ill-treatment of a spouse or partner and for violence against women to be a public offence, the adoption in 1999 of the National Action Plan to Fight Domestic Violence, and the activities under the INOVAR (innovate) Project, the Committee is concerned about the continuing problem of violence against women, especially domestic violence, and the small number of prosecutions and convictions of offenders.

332. The Committee urges the State party to ensure the systematic implementation of the national action plan and all laws and other measures relating to violence against women, and to monitor their impact. The Committee calls on the State party to take measures aimed at creating zero tolerance for such violence, and to make it socially and morally unacceptable. The Committee further recommends that the State party strengthen measures to sensitize the judiciary and law enforcement personnel to all forms of violence against women that constitute infringements of the human rights of women under the Convention.

333.The Committee is concerned that incest is not defined explicitly as a crime under the Penal Code but is dealt with merely indirectly under a number of different penal provisions.

334. The Committee urges the State party to include incest as a specific crime in the Penal Code so as to make it easier for women and girls who are victims of incest to have access to effective means of redress and protection.

335.The Committee is concerned about the increase in the incidence of trafficking in women and girls.

336. The Committee urges the State party to increase efforts at cross-border and international cooperation, especially with countries of origin and transit as well as with neighbouring receiving countries, to collect data, reduce the incidence of trafficking, prosecute and punish traffickers, and ensure the protection of the human rights of trafficked women and girls. It calls on the State party to ensure that trafficked women and girls have the support that they need so that they can provide testimony against their traffickers. It also urges that training of border police and law enforcement officials provide them with the requisite skills to recognize and provide support for victims of trafficking.

337.The Committee is concerned about the low participation of women in elected and appointed bodies, including as members of parliament and local assemblies, government ministers and secretaries of state, mayors, and high-ranking judges and diplomats.

338. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to increase the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies through, inter alia, the implementation of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention in order to realize women’s right to participation in all areas of public life and, particularly, at high levels of decision-making.

339.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of the level of illiteracy, and that older women constitute a disproportionate number of illiterates.

340. The Committee encourages the State party to develop programmes specially designed to reduce female illiteracy.

341.The Committee is concerned at the evidence of women’s occupational segregation, that the gap between women’s and men’s wages in the private sector is worsening and at the high percentage of women among unpaid family workers. It is also concerned at the lack of sex-disaggregated data on these matters in respect of the public and private sectors.

342. The Committee urges the State party to collect sex-aggregated data on women’s vertical segregation in public and private employment. It also urges the State party to facilitate legal action by women and women’s non-governmental organizations on these matters.

343.The Committee is concerned at the apparent lack of legal actions or court decisions where the Convention and/or Constitution have been used to claim the right of equality and obtain redress for acts of discrimination.

344. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that adequate mechanisms and access to legal aid are available to enable women to seek and obtain redress from the courts on the basis of the Constitution and the Convention.

345.The Committee is concerned about the restrictive abortion laws in place in Portugal, in particular because illegal abortions have serious negative impacts on women’s health and well-being.

346. The Committee urges the State party to facilitate a national dialogue on women’s right to reproductive health, including on the restrictive abortion laws. It also urges the State party to further improve family planning services, ensuring their availability to all women and men, including teenagers and young adults. It requests the State party to include information in its next report on death and/or illness related to or due to illegal abortion.

347.The Committee expresses concern about the lack of information in the reports on rural women, who constitute a significant percentage of the labour force, and on older women.

348. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, information on the situation of rural and older women, especially as regards their health, employment and educational status.

349.The Committee is concerned about the feminization of poverty and, in particular, the situation of women heads of household.

350. Noting that part II of the National Action Plan for Integration, 2001-2003, sets out the objectives of the campaign against poverty, the Committee requests that the State party provide, in its next report, information on the impact on women and girls of measures taken to eradicate poverty.

351. The Committee encourages the State party to complete the formalities required in order to allow for early ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

352. 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.

353. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Portugal of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Portugal, in particular government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women and of the further steps that are required in this regard. It also 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 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

6.Fifth periodic report

Russian Federation

354.The Committee considered the fifth periodic report of the Russian Federation (CEDAW/USR/5) at its 543rd and 544th meetings, on 25 January 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.543 and 544).

(a)Introduction by the State party

355.Introducing the report of her country, the representative of the Russian Federation analysed the implementation of the Convention for the period from 1994 to 1998 and the situation of women within the framework of the current socio-economic climate and political situation in the Russian Federation. The country had experienced an unprecedented transition from a planned economy, a totalitarian regime and a one-party political system to a market economy, a democracy and a multiparty system. Such changes had had a profound impact on all aspects of life of the Russian population in general, and on women in particular, with the despair and fear of the early 1990s being replaced by a sense of optimism and hope.

356.The representative noted that the standard of living and personal incomes of the Russian population had started to rise, emphasizing that those positive developments in the economic sphere had allowed the Russian Government to begin to focus on social policy and programmes. For example, in the 2002 federal budget, more resources were reallocated to all social spheres. The priority was to increase investment in human capital, especially in terms of improving education and health care.

357.During the period covered by the report, the Government had introduced various legislative and administrative measures to improve the status of women, protect their rights and cushion the impact of the transitional period. Women had taken an active part in the reform process, resulting in the expansion of the women’s movement, especially over the past three years. Women’s non-governmental organizations had participated in all major national events and discussions on socio-economic and political issues. The national discussion on the theme “Initiatives of women citizens as a factor of sustainable development” had been organized within the Civil Forum which was held in November 2001. The representative noted that, with the increased dialogue between women’s non-governmental organizations and the Government, there was now a real chance of improving the status of women in the country.

358.Pursuant to the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, the Government had identified five main priorities for the advancement of women in the Russian Federation. They included women’s participation in decision-making, women and the economy, human rights of women, women and health, and the elimination of violence against women. The second National Plan of Action for the advancement of women had been adopted for the period from 2001 to 2005.

359.The representative indicated that, as a result of the efforts of the Government, women’s participation in political life, especially at the regional and municipal levels, had increased. She emphasized the importance of the adoption, in 2000, of a Law on Political Parties, which in its article 8 ensured equal rights for women and men to be elected to all political positions. Despite new measures and initiatives, the level of women’s participation in the legislative branch of power remained low, and out of 442 members of the State Duma (the lower chamber of Parliament) there were 35 women, while out of 175 members of the Federation Council (the upper chamber of Parliament) there were only four women. The level of women’s participation in the executive branch of power was also low. To address that issue, the “Concept of the State Civil Service”, currently under development, envisaged the introduction of gender-sensitive training to improve the participation of women at all levels of decision-making.

360.The representative informed the Committee of the adoption of the new Labour Code, which reflected the request of women’s non-governmental organizations to limit the number of occupations barred to women. In addition, the Government had developed federal employment programmes for the population that envisaged quotas for women and included social security provisions for the most vulnerable groups of women. She also described plans to conduct a gender analysis of labour legislation and to develop monitoring procedures on women’s participation in the labour market. She shared the Government’s concern regarding existing discriminatory practices in the recruitment and dismissal of women, especially pregnant women, and the persistence of occupational segregation. Another source of concern was the substantial deterioration in the situation of rural women.

361.In order to reduce poverty, the Government was planning to increase the minimum wage by a factor of 2.5, expand the system of compensation for housing, review tax legislation, increase subsidies and allowances for mothers and children, and proceed with pension reform. Beginning in 2002, maternity allowances would be increased threefold. The representative described efforts to bring the country out of its demographic crisis by implementing measures to stimulate the birth rate, provide assistance for families, improve the health of the population and reduce maternal and infant mortality.

362.The representative described the health situation in the country. In the period of transition, the quality of health of the population had generally deteriorated, but there had been improvement in the reproductive health of women. The efforts of the Government had resulted in a decrease in the number of abortions, with the absolute number of abortions being reduced by a factor of 1.3, with 1,961 abortions in 2000 as compared, for example, with 2,498 in 1997. However, only 23.6 per cent of women used effective methods of contraception. Among other achievements were the reduction of birth pathology, as well as maternal and infant mortality. Efforts were under way to improve access to health services for rural women. Concern existed with respect to the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug addiction among women, and measures aimed at combating those problems had been introduced.

363.The representative indicated that the issue of violence against women, including domestic violence, continued to be a serious problem for society. Surveys suggested that about 70 per cent of women experienced violence at some time in their lives, and women constituted 40 per cent of the victims of premeditated murders. The Government, together with non-governmental organizations, was designing and implementing a wide range of measures and initiatives aimed at eliminating violence against women. They included the establishment of crisis centres, the introduction of new legislation together with the revision of existing legislation, awareness-raising campaigns, the collection of information and statistical data, gender-sensitive training of law officials and other programmes. The Government had also started to pay very serious attention to the growing problem of sex exploitation and of trafficking in women and girls.

364.She reported on further steps undertaken by the Government to strengthen the national machinery for the advancement of women and mainstream a gender perspective into policy decision-making at the national and regional levels. The role and functions of the Women’s Commission, which was responsible for mainstreaming a gender perspective into State policies and programmes in all areas, within the Government had been strengthened and expanded.

365.The representative indicated that the Commission on the Status of Women had been established in the upper chamber of Parliament, and the Department of Women’s and Children’s Affairs had been established in the Office of Ombudsmen on Human Rights. Many regional governing structures had also created women’s commissions, departments or councils. The newly created inter-ministerial commission was responsible for the implementation of regional plans for the advancement of women, while the newly established “Round Table” within the Labour Ministry included representatives of non-governmental and non-commercial organizations and contributed to the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in governmental decisions. It also operated an ongoing negotiating forum between the authorities and women’s organizations.

366.In concluding her presentation, the representative noted that, despite some definite progress in the implementation of the Convention, the Government was aware that much more needed to be done to ensure the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality. She articulated her Government’s commitment to further efforts in that regard.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

367.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for the presentation of its fifth periodic report, which followed the Committee’s guidelines. It commends the State party on its informative responses to the list of issues and questions and the frank and comprehensive oral presentation, which updated the Committee on developments in the country since the submission of the report in 1999.

368.The Committee also commends the State party for sending a delegation headed by the First Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Development.

Positive aspects

369.The Committee welcomes the fact that international treaties, including the Convention, are considered to be a component part of the State’s legal system and can be directly invoked in domestic courts.

370.The Committee welcomes the enactment of the 1995 Family Code and the 2001 Federal Act on Political Parties. It welcomes the Government’s adoption of the 1996 Outline on the advancement of women’s socio-economic status and the National Action Plan to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions.

371.The Committee also welcomes the publicity given to the Convention in the Russian Federation and the steps taken to distribute the State party’s reports and the concluding comments of the Committee.

Factors impeding the implementation of the Convention

372.The Committee considers that the State party’s ongoing transformation has had a negative effect on women and has posed an impediment to the full implementation of the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

373.The Committee is concerned that the Constitution which recognizes women’s right to equality before the law does not contain a definition of discrimination or expressly prohibit discrimination on the ground of sex. The Committee notes that the Constitution has not become an effective instrument to prevent discrimination.

374. The Committee urges the State party to incorporate in the Constitution a specific right of non-discrimination on the ground of sex, and a definition of discrimination, in conformity with article 1 of the Convention. It calls on the State party to introduce effective enforcement procedures and take necessary measures, including public awareness-raising campaigns to ensure effect implementation of women’s right to equality.

375.The Committee notes that there is a lack of legislation in critical areas where there is discrimination against women. It is concerned that women are not invoking court procedures to combat sex discrimination because of gaps in the law, evidentiary barriers, a general lack of legal awareness and distrust of the legal system.

376. The Committee recommends that specific legislation and effective enforcement procedures be adopted to combat and eliminate discrimination and respond to violence against women. All such legislation and enforcement procedures should be accompanied by access to legal aid and a vigorous awareness-raising campaign to inform women of their rights.

377.The Committee is concerned that the national machinery for the advancement of women, including the Commission on Enhancement of the Status of Women, may be weakened through its lack of clear legal status and mandate, and insufficient financial and human resources.

378. The Committee urges the State party to confer a clear mandate on, and allocate sufficient financial and human resources to, the national machinery for the advancement of women to enable it to ensure the practical realization of equality for women.

379.The Committee notes with concern the persistence of stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes with respect to the role of women and men in the family and society.

380. While commending the introduction of human rights education in school curricula, the Committee urges the State party to emphasize women’s rights as human rights, to increase awareness-raising programmes, including those directed towards men, and to take measures to change stereotypical attitudes and perceptions about the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society.

381.The Committee is concerned that the representation of women in the political arena at all levels has been decreasing steadily.

382. While acknowledging the Federal Act on Political Parties of July 2001, the Committee recommends that the State party take further measures to give practical and concrete effect to the Act. It requests the State party to adopt additional temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1 of the Convention, in order to increase the number of women at all levels of political decision-making.

383.The Committee is deeply concerned at the deteriorating situation of women in employment and that women are the overwhelming majority of workers in lower level and low-paying jobs in the various parts of the public sector. It is concerned that women experience significant discrimination in the private sector, and have a low share of the high-paying jobs in that sector. It is also concerned that women constitute the majority of the long-term unemployed.

384. The Committee urges the enactment of an equal employment opportunity law, prohibiting discrimination in hiring, promotion, employment conditions and dismissal, requiring equal pay for work of equal value and providing for effective enforcement procedures and remedies. It recommends that such legislation include temporary special measures, with time-bound targets, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, to increase the number of women in higher-level jobs in the public and private sectors.

385.While noting the State party’s policy of protecting women against unsafe working conditions, the Committee is concerned that 12 per cent of women work in conditions which do not meet health and safety standards. It is also concerned about the exclusion of women of childbearing age from a list of 456 jobs, which may result in the effective exclusion of women from certain employment sectors. The Committee notes that the list is under reconsideration and also notes that employers may employ women in the prohibited jobs if the necessary standards are in place.

386. The Committee recommends that the State party require all employers to conform to the mandated standards, which would allow both women and men to work in proper conditions of health and safety. Bearing in mind article 11.3 of the Convention, it recommends continued review of the list of prohibited jobs, in consultation with women’s non-governmental organizations, with a view to reducing their number.

387.The Committee is concerned at the feminization of poverty and, in particular, that women constitute a large proportion of single-parent families and of the working poor, and at the disproportionate impact of the remaining debt in unpaid back-wages on women in public employment and the poverty of older women.

388. The Committee recommends that, in addition to the measures to reduce poverty in the Programme for Socio-Economic Development of July 2001, the State party collate accurate data on the extent of women’s poverty and its causes and, urgently, take special positive measures to alleviate women’s poverty as a distinct structural problem.

389.The Committee is deeply disturbed at the high level of domestic violence and of murder of women in this context. It is very concerned that law enforcement officials, in particular tend to view such violence as a private matter between spouses and family members and not as grave crimes. The Committee also regrets that the State party has not taken urgent necessary effective measures to combat domestic violence and that none of the numerous draft bills on domestic violence has been adopted.

390. The Committee urges the State party to place a high priority on measures to address violence against women in the family and society, and adopt laws, policies and programmes in accordance with its general recommendation 19 and the United Nations Declaration on Violence against Women. The Committee recommends that the State party increase its programmes on violence against women, in particular awareness-raising campaigns. It also urges the State party to provide training for law enforcement personnel at all levels, lawyers and judges, health-care professionals and social workers with respect to violence against women in the household and society.

391.The Committee is concerned about reports of ill-treatment of women in pre-detention centres and in prisons. The Committee is deeply concerned by the fact that, despite credible evidence that police officials have used violence against women in custody, the State party has not, as a rule, investigated, disciplined or prosecuted offenders. The Committee is also disturbed by the fact that, despite strong evidence that members of the Russian forces have committed acts of rape or other sexual violence against women in the context of the armed conflict in Chechnya, the State party has failed to conduct the necessary investigations or hold anyone accountable in the vast majority of cases.

392. The Committee urges the State party to take necessary measures to ensure that custodial violence by officials, including acts of sexual violence against women and girls in detention or under investigation, are prosecuted and punished as grave crimes. It also urges the State party to adopt preventive measures, including swift disciplinary inquiries and human rights education programmes for the armed forces and law enforcement personnel.

393.The Committee is concerned about reports regarding the great increase in prostitution and, in particular, at the number of girl street children who are exploited as prostitutes. It is concerned that the poverty of women and girls is the major causal factor.

394. Noting the State party’s programmes of action to provide street children with shelter, subsistence and education, the Committee urges the State party to continue and extend such programmes and to apply them, appropriately modified and strengthened, to women forced into prostitution by poverty. It also urges giving priority to the prosecution of those who exploit prostitutes and of adults involved in the exploitation of child prostitutes, with the introduction of special legislative provisions, if necessary.

395.The Committee is concerned at the extent of trafficking of Russian women to foreign countries for sexual exploitation. It notes that, in the period from 1994 to 1997, only four court cases were brought and seven persons were convicted for such offences. In addition, the Committee is concerned that the Russian Federation itself has become a country of destination for trafficked women.

396. The Committee recommends the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat the trafficking of women, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders, increased international regional and bilateral cooperation, in particular with countries of destination and transit, witness protection and the rehabilitation of women and girls who have been victims of trafficking. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, comprehensive information on the trafficking of women and girls.

397.Noting the measures taken by the State party to combat the effect of HIV/AIDS on pregnant women, the Committee is concerned that the State party regards HIV/AIDS as primarily resulting from the conduct of individuals in the context of drug abuse and alcoholism.

398. The Committee urges the State party to address the gender aspects of HIV/AIDS, including the power differential between women and men, which often prevents women from insisting on safe and responsible sex practices. It encourages the State party to strengthen its efforts to raise awareness and educate women and girls on ways to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The Committee urges the State party to ensure the equal rights and the access of women and girls to detection, health care and social services.

399.The Committee is concerned at the deterioration of the health-care system, which severely limits women’s access to health care. It is also concerned at the state of women’s health, in particular the increase in gynaecological problems and pregnancies among teenage girls. The Committee also notes with concern that, although there has been a decrease in the rate of abortions, abortion continues to be used as a method of birth control and the number of women using effective contraceptive measures is low.

400. The Committee recommends in accordance with general recommendation 24 on article 12 — women and health that the State party fully implement a life-cycle approach to women’s health and urges the State party to strengthen family planning programmes and provide affordable access to contraceptive measures for all women in all regions. It also urges the State party to include sex education in the school curriculum.

401.The Committee expresses concern with regard to the situation of rural women and, in particular, their degree of access to income-generating activities.

402. The Committee requests the State party to provide more information and data on the situation of rural women in its next periodic report. It recommends that the State party pay greater attention to the situation of rural women and develop special policies and programmes aimed at their economic empowerment, ensuring their access to capital and productive resources.

403. The Committee welcomes the State party’s commitment to ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention in 2003, and to deposit as soon as possible its instrument of acceptance to the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

404. The Committee urges the State party to respond in its next periodic report to the specific issues raised in the present concluding comments and to provide updated data and statistics disaggregated by sex and age.

405. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Russian Federation of the current concluding comments in order to inform the public in general, and government administrators and politicians in particular, of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women as well as of further steps that are required in this regard. It also 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 results 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

406.Article 12 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention provides that the Committee shall include in its annual report under article 21 of the Convention a summary of its activities under the Protocol.

407.The Committee adopted the draft model communication form which had been formulated by the Working Group on the Optional Protocol. The communication form, as finalized, was as follows:

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women entered into force on 22 December 2000. It entitles the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a body of 23 independent experts, to receive and consider communications (petitions) from, or on behalf of, individuals or a group of individuals who claim to be victims of violations of the rights protected by the Convention.

To be considered by the Committee, a communication:

•must be in writing;

•may not be anonymous;

•must refer to a State which is a party to both the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol;

•must be submitted by, or on behalf of, an individual or a group of individuals under the jurisdiction of a State which is a party to the Convention and the Optional Protocol. In cases where a communication is submitted on behalf of an individual or a group of individuals, their consent is necessary unless the person submitting the communication can justify acting on their behalf without such consent.

A communication will not normally be considered by the Committee:

•unless all available domestic remedies have been exhausted;

•where the same matter is being or has already been examined by the Committee or another international procedure;

•if it concerns an alleged violation occurring before the entry into force of the Optional Protocol for the State.

In order for a communication to be considered the victim or victims must agree to disclose her/their identity to the State against which the violation is alleged. The communication, if admissible, will be brought confidentially to the attention of the State party concerned.

* * *

If you wish to submit a communication, please follow the guidelines below as closely as possible. Also, please submit any relevant information which becomes available after you have submitted this form.

Further information on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, as well as the rules of procedure of the Committee can be found at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/index.html

Guidelines for submission

The following questionnaire provides a guideline for those who wish to submit a communication for consideration by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Please provide as much information as available in response to the items listed below.

Send your communication to:

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

c/o Division for the Advancement of Women,Department of Economic and Social AffairsUnited Nations Secretariat2 United Nations PlazaDC-2/12th FloorNew York, NY 10017United States of America

Fax: 1-212-963-3463

1.Information concerning the author(s) of the communication

•Family name•First name•Date and place of birth•Nationality/citizenship•Passport/identity card number (if available)•Sex•Marital status/children•Profession•Ethnic background, religious affiliation, social group (if relevant)•Present address•Mailing address for confidential correspondence (if other than presentaddress)•Fax/telephone/e-mail

•Indicate whether you are submitting the communication as:

–Alleged victim(s). If there is a group of individuals alleged to be victims, provide basic information about each individual.

–On behalf of the alleged victim(s). Provide evidence showing the consent of the victim(s), or reasons that justify submitting the communication without such consent.

2.Information concerning the alleged victim(s) (if other than the author)

•Family name•First name•Date and place of birth•Nationality/citizenship•Passport/identity card number (if available)•Sex•Marital status/children•Profession•Ethnic background, religious affiliation, social group (if relevant)•Present address•Mailing address for confidential correspondence (if other than present address)•Fax/telephone/e-mail

3.Information on the State party concerned

•Name of the State party (country)

4.Nature of the alleged violation(s)

Provide detailed information to substantiate your claim, including:

•Description of alleged violation(s) and alleged perpetrator(s)•Date(s)•Place(s)•Provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms ofDiscrimination against Women that were allegedly violated.If the communication refers to more than one provision, describe each issue separately.

5.Steps taken to exhaust domestic remedies

Describe the action taken to exhaust domestic remedies; for example, attempts to obtain legal, administrative, legislative, policy or programme remedies, including:

•Type(s) of remedy sought•Date(s)•Place(s)•Who initiated the action•Which authority or body was addressed•Name of court hearing the case (if any)•If domestic remedies have not been exhausted, explain why.

Please note: Enclose copies of all relevant documentation.

6.Other international procedures

Has the same matter already been examined or is it being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement? If yes, explain:

•Type of procedure(s)•Date(s)•Place(s)•Results (if any)

Please note: Enclose copies of all relevant documentation.

7.Date and signature

Date/place: _____________________

Signature of author(s) and/or victim(s):

_______________________________

8.List of documents attached (do not send originals, only copies)

Chapter VI

Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee

408.The Committee considered agenda item 7, on ways and means of expediting its work, at its 529th and 549th meetings, on 14 January and 1 February 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.529 and 549).

409.In introducing the item, the Chief of the Women’s Rights Unit of the Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, drew attention to the report of the Secretariat (CEDAW/C/2002/I/4). She also drew attention to the two informal documents containing the compilation of the concluding comments of the Committee, prepared in response to the request of the Committee at its twenty-fourth session, and the compilation of the decisions and suggestions on working methods adopted by the Committee since its first session in 1982, also prepared in response to the request of the Committee at its twenty-fourth session.

Action taken by the Committee under agenda item 7

1.Members of the pre-sessional working group for the twenty-seventh session

410.The Committee decided that the members of the pre-sessional working group for the twenty-seventh session and their alternates should be:

Members:Charlotte Abaka (Africa)Rosario Manalo (Asia)Ivanka Corti (Europe)Yolanda Ferrer Gómez (Latin America and the Caribbean)

Alternates:Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (Africa)Heisoo Shin (Asia)Göran Melander (Europe)Rosalyn Hazelle (Latin America and the Caribbean)

2.Dates of the twenty-seventh session of the Committee and its pre-sessional working group

411.In conformity with the approved calendar of conferences and meetings for 2002, the twenty-seventh session of the Committee will be held from 3 to 21 June 2002. It was agreed that the pre-sessional working group for the twenty-eighth session would meet from 24 to 28 June 2002.

3.Reports to be considered at future sessions

412.The Committee decided to consider the following reports at its twenty-seventh, exceptional, twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth sessions:

(a)Twenty-seventh session:

(i)Initial reports:

Congo;

Costa Rica;

St. Kitts and Nevis;

(ii)Combined third and fourth periodic reports:

Belgium;

Tunisia;

Zambia;

(iii)Combined fourth and fifth periodic report:

Ukraine;

(iv)Fourth and fifth periodic reports:

Denmark.

In the event that one of the above-mentioned States parties is unable to present its report, the Committee would consider the initial report of Suriname.

(b)Exceptional session authorized by the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session in its resolution 56/229:

(i)Second periodic reports:

Armenia;

Czech Republic;

(ii)Third periodic report:

Uganda;

(iii)Combined third and fourth periodic report and fifth periodic report:

Guatemala;

(iv)Fourth periodic report:

Barbados;

(v)Fourth and fifth periodic reports:

Argentina;

Yemen;

(vi)Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports:

Greece;

Hungary;

(vii)Fifth periodic reports:

Mexico;

Peru;

(c)Twenty-eighth session:

(i)Initial report:

Suriname;

(ii)Second periodic reports:

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya;

Morocco;

Slovenia;

(iii)Third periodic reports:

El Salvador;

Israel;

Kenya;

(iv)Fifth and sixth periodic reports:

Norway;

(d)Twenty-ninth session:

(i)Initial report:

None;

(ii)Combined third and fourth periodic report:

France;

(iii)Fourth periodic report:

Japan.

4.United Nations meetings to be attended by the Chairperson or members of the Committee in 2002

413.The Committee recommended that the Chairperson or an alternate attend the following meetings in 2002:

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

(b)The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on Human Rights;

(c)The day of general discussion of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the Equal Right of Men and Women to the Enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights, to be held on 13 May 2002;

(d)The fourteenth meeting of persons chairing the human rights treaty bodies;

(e)The fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly (Third Committee).

Chapter VII

Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

414.The Committee considered agenda item 6, on the implementation of article 21 of the Convention, at its 529th and 549th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.529 and 549).

415.The item was introduced by the Chief of the Women’s Rights Unit of the Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, who drew attention to a note by the Secretary-General on the reports of specialized agencies (CEDAW/C/2002/I/3) and the reports of specialized agencies on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of their activity (CEDAW/C/2002/I/3/Add.1-4).

Action taken by the Committee under agenda item 6

1.General recommendation on article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention

416.In accordance with its three-stage process for the preparation of general recommendations, the Committee agreed to hold an open discussion with representatives of United Nations system bodies and non-governmental organizations on article 4.1 of the Convention at its twenty-seventh session, in June 2002. It also designated one of its members to prepare a draft general recommendation on article 4.1 of the Convention to be circulated to the Committee prior to its twenty-eighth session, to be held in January 2003.

2.Statement of solidarity with Afghan women

417.On the occasion of its twenty-sixth session, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women fully expresses its solidarity with, and support for, the women of Afghanistan.

418.Afghan women have suffered for a considerable time every privation known to humankind, losing all their fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life, education, health and work.

419.The participation of Afghan women as full and equal partners with men is essential for the reconstruction and development of their country.

420.The Committee welcomes the resolve of the international community to assist in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and calls upon all parties concerned to respect internationally recognized principles, norms and standards of human rights, particularly the human rights of women, which are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights, in all their actions and activities. The Committee considers this essential in order to achieve peace and stability in the country.

421.The Committee expresses the hope that the human rights of women, as provided for in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, signed by Afghanistan in 1980, will guide all actions in both the public and private spheres.

3.Gender and sustainable development

422.The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women welcomes the decision to convene the World Summit on Sustainable Development with a view to launching new concrete action programmes to implement a clear global agenda for sustainable development. It notes that that agenda is based on Agenda 21, chapter 24 of which emphasizes women’s contribution to development, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and related initiatives, and conventions related to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

423.The Committee wishes to emphasize that peaceful conflict management and resolution at the national and international levels, with participation of women in negotiations, is essential for the achievement of sustainable development.

424.The Committee’s work has highlighted the urgent need to ensure that globalization, policies and plans of action that facilitate international trade and the transition to market economic policies are gender-sensitive and improve the quality of life of women, who constitute more than 50 per cent of the population in almost all countries. It urges that the concept of sustainable development be perceived as gender-sensitive, people-centred human development, based on equality and equity, participation of government and civil society, transparency and accountability in governance. The Committee wishes to emphasize that sustainable development in that sense can only be achieved by the full realization of human rights, including the human rights of women and the inter-generational rights of all communities.

425.The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is one of the first international human rights instruments to combine civil and political rights and socio-economic rights. The Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Political Declaration and outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly must therefore be recognized as important legal, policy and programmatic instruments that also provide a clear agenda that must be integrated into sustainable human development.

426.The Committee therefore calls upon the Summit to integrate gender equality into the new action plan for sustainable development since development efforts that are not engendered are endangered and cannot be sustained, particularly in an increasingly interdependent world economy. If sustainable development is to realize economic, social and environmental goals, women’s needs and concerns must be given equal priority with those of men. Furthermore, women’s contribution must be recognized, enhanced and given full visibility in working towards sustainable development.

427.The reports submitted to the Committee by States parties demonstrate that women all over the world continue to suffer discrimination because of their sex. They are excluded to varying extents from full participation, on equal terms with men, in the political, social and economic life of their societies.

428.Women are also disproportionately affected by the negative impact of external debt, the implementation of structural adjustment programmes, the decrease in the price of local produce, the decline in levels of development assistance and growing disparities in the distribution of wealth. They are often disadvantaged in terms of the benefits of economic and social development, in particular education and employment, and suffer disproportionately from poverty, malnutrition and inadequacy of health care. All those phenomena are particularly severe in rural areas, where about three quarters of the world’s poor live and work.

429.Convinced that sustainable development cannot be achieved without addressing the above problems or a commitment to the full realization of the human rights of women or without ensuring women’s full participation in implementing the agenda for sustainable development, the Committee recommends that:

(a)Women be considered as stakeholders with an important contribution to make to sustainable development. The empowerment of women, at all levels, in leadership and decision-making roles in government and as responsible members of civil society must be considered central to sustainable development;

(b)Poverty reduction programmes consider and address the problem of the feminization of poverty and the need to create sustainable livelihoods for rural and urban women;

(c)Providing women with access to adequate health care, including reproductive health care, and providing women and men with the knowledge and means to avoid the spread of HIV/AIDS be considered a critical aspect of sustainable development;

(d)Since investment in the education and capacity-building of women and girls is a catalyst for improved social indicators and human development in all countries, greater emphasis be given to the education of women and girls, particularly as regards access to scientific education and modern information and communication technology;

(e)Controls, laws and policies be adopted and implemented to prevent the negative and harmful impact of tourism, which, although it is an important growth sector, often results in sexual exploitation, trafficking and violence against women and children;

(f)Resources be allocated to preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women since the prevalence of such violence constitutes a serious impediment to sustainable development, peace and stability in all societies;

(g)While recognizing that industry contributes to economic growth and employment creation, codes of ethics and action programmes be formulated and implemented for multinational corporations, especially those that operate in investment and export promotion zones. The Committee also considers that there is an urgent need to develop and promote the concept of corporate responsibility to women workers so that they are offered equitable employment conditions, with adequate safeguards for occupational health;

(h)Sustainable forest management systems be developed to address the concerns of rural women, recognizing in particular women’s land entitlement;

(i)Increased access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities be provided;

(j)Priority be given in developing action plans and measures to address climate change, pollution and their adverse effects, in particular on the health of women and children;

(k)Further policies and measures be developed to mitigate the adverse effects of natural disasters on women and children;

(l)Action plans be developed to make general credit facilities accessible to women at all levels and to expand microfinancing for low-income women’s entrepreneurial activities;

(m)Particular attention be given to reducing poverty among older women, who constitute the majority of the over-60 population in many countries;

(n)Intergovernmental processes in the United Nations system promote holistic approaches to development through gender-sensitive policy formulation, decision-making and financing, in partnership with national Governments, relevant regional organizations and civil society. The Committee considers that programming and decision-making in that participatory manner is critical for sustainable development.

4.Ending discrimination against older women through the Convention

430.The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women welcomes the convening of the second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, and urges that special attention be focused on the special needs of older women. The situation of older women is of concern to the Committee, which is the United Nations treaty body in charge of monitoring the implementation of the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Convention, often described as the international bill of rights for women, defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

431.The Convention is an important tool for addressing the specific issue of the human rights of older women. Discrimination against women in all areas of their lives throughout their lifespan has a severe and compounded impact on women in old age. The Committee has increasingly used the Convention to point out the discrimination faced by older women in all countries of the world and, in its concluding comments, has suggested ways to improve the quality of life of these women. In particular, the Committee has recommended action, inter alia, to address the situation of older women living in poverty, particularly in rural areas; to address the physical, financial and emotional needs of older women; and to improve older women’s access to health care.

432.The Committee therefore urges States parties to include and integrate women’s perspectives into all aspects of the proposed international strategies for action on ageing.

433.The Committee places strong emphasis on the need for Governments to collect and analyse statistical data disaggregated by sex and age as a way to better assess living conditions, including the incidence of poverty and violence against women of all ages, and stresses the importance of formulating and implementing programmes with a life-cycle approach to older women’s economic and social well-being and empowerment.

434.Furthermore, the Committee recommends that special attention be paid to improving the further education of older women. The Committee recommends that measures be taken to increase the literacy levels of older women and to reduce the literacy gap between older women in urban and rural areas. It also recommends the design and implementation of gender-sensitive policies and programmes that address the specific needs of older women, including those relating to their physical, mental, social and economic well-being.

435.Older women, for a variety of reasons, including their work as unpaid family members in the informal sector, part-time work, interrupted career patterns and concentration in low-paying jobs, are often insufficiently covered by health insurance and pension schemes. Migration and the breakdown of supportive family structures often leave older women dependent on State assistance the providers of which have not been trained to recognize or meet their specific educational, financial and health needs. The Committee recommends that the issue of the care required for older women be addressed through public policy measures in order to establish societal responsibility for their well-being. Care given to them by family members should be socially and financially recognized and encouraged.

436.Special recognition should be provided to the contribution of women to their families, the national economy and civil society throughout their life span: stereotypes and taboos that restrict or limit older women from continuing to contribute should be eliminated.

Chapter VIII

Provisional agenda for the twenty-seventh session

437.The Committee considered the draft provisional agenda for its twenty-seventh session at its 549th meeting (see CEDAW/C/SR.549). The Committee decided to approve 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 twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh 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.Provisional agenda for the exceptional and twenty-eighth sessions.

8.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its twenty-seventh session.

Chapter IX

Adoption of the report

438.The Committee considered the draft report on its twenty-sixth session (CEDAW/C/2002/I/L.1 and CEDAW/C/2002/I/CRP.3 and Add.1-7) at its 549th meeting (see CEDAW/C/SR.549), and adopted it, as orally revised during the discussion.

Part two

Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its twenty-seventh session

Letter of transmittal

His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan

Secretary-General of the United Nations

New York

15 September 2002

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 twenty-seventh session at United Nations Headquarters from 3 to 21 June 2002. It adopted its report on the session at the 567th meeting, on 21 June 2002. The report of the Committee is herewith submitted to you for transmission to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

(Signed) Charlotte AbakaChairpersonCommittee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Chapter I

Matters brought to the attention of States parties

Decisions

Decision 27/IReporting guidelines of the Committee

The Committee decided to adopt revised guidelines for the reports of States parties (see annex).

Decision 27/II

The Committee decided to convene a meeting with States that are not party to the Convention during its twenty-eighth session, in January 2003.

Chapter II

Organizational and other matters

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

1.As at 21 June 2002, the closing date of the twenty-seventh session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, there were 170 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.

B.Opening of the session

2.The Committee held its twenty-seventh session at United Nations Headquarters from 3 to 21 June 2002. The Committee held 18 plenary meetings (550th to 567th) and held 19 meetings to discuss agenda items 5 and 6.

3.The session was opened by the Chairperson of the Committee, Charlotte Abaka (Ghana), who had been elected at the twenty-fourth session of the Committee, in January 2001.

4.In addressing the twenty-seventh session of the Committee, the representative of the Secretary-General, Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, welcomed all members of the Committee to United Nations Headquarters. She noted the seminar held from 22 to 24 April at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden, which had been attended by most members, to consider the working methods of the Committee. A number of decisions adopted at the seminar were contained in the report of the Secretariat on ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee (CEDAW/C/2002/II/4).

5.Ms. Hannan reported on several events that had taken place since the twenty-sixth session of the Committee and on activities carried out by the Division and the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. The forty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women had been held from 4 to 15 March and on 25 March 2002.

6.Several resolutions and decisions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights had made specific reference to the work of the Committee and the work of all the human rights treaty bodies. In particular in resolution 2002/30 on human rights and extreme poverty, the Commission had called upon the Committee to take into account extreme poverty and human rights when considering the reports of the States parties; in resolution 2002/49 on women’s equal ownership, access to and control over land and the equal rights to own property and to adequate housing, it had encouraged the Committee to integrate the content of this resolution into its work; and in resolution 2002/52 on the elimination of violence against women, the Commission had reminded Governments that their obligation under the Convention must be implemented fully with regard to violence against women, taking into account the Committee’s general recommendation 19. The representative also highlighted resolution 2002/31 on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, in which the Commission established a special rapporteur on the right to health and called upon him or her to take account of the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on article 12.

7.The representative of the Secretary-General also stated that, during the recent session of the Commission on Human Rights, she had had the opportunity to participate, along with the Committee’s Chairperson, in a panel discussion organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Non-Governmental Organization Committee on the Status of Women on combating racism and promoting women’s rights.

8.Ms. Hannan indicated that the World Assembly on Ageing had taken place in Madrid from 8 to 12 April 2002, and had been attended on behalf of the Committee by Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling, who presented the contribution of the Committee in her address to the Main Committee of the Assembly. The outcome documents adopted by the Assembly drew attention to particular needs of older women, which result, inter alia, from the fact that their life patterns are different from those of men.

9.The special session of the General Assembly on Children took place from 8 to 10 May 2002, and Regina Tavares da Silva participated in the special session on the Committee’s behalf, presenting its contribution to the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole. Ms. Tavares da Silva participated in a panel discussion entitled “Women and children: from international law to national realities”, organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Office of Legal Affairs and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

10.Ms. Hannan indicated that the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women and the Division for the Advancement of Women continued to take every opportunity to encourage ratification of the Convention and the Optional Protocol, as well as acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, on the Committee’s meeting time. Both offices also seek to encourage regular reporting and implementation of the substantive article of the Convention in States parties. She indicated that she had participated with the Committee’s Chairperson and the Chief of the Women’s Rights Section, Jane Connors, in a seminar held in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm on follow-up of the Committee’s concluding comments on the report of Sweden. The Chief of the Women’s Rights Section had provided training for government officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Convention and one staff member from the Women’s Rights Unit had participated in a meeting organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kuala Lumpur on the formulation of the next phase of the UNDP programme on promoting gender equality in the Asia-Pacific region. Sjiamsiah Achmad, a member of the Committee, had also participated in the meeting.

C.Attendance

11.Twenty-three members of the Committee attended the twenty-seventh session. Emna Aouij attended from 12 to 21 June, Naela Gabr from 17 to 21 June and Savitri Goonesekere from 10 to 21 June. Yolanda Ferrer Gomez attended from 17 to 21 June because of the late issuance of her entry visa.

D.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

12.The Committee considered the provisional agenda and organization of work (CEDAW/C/2002/II/1) at its 550th meeting. The agenda, as adopted, was 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 twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh 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.Provisional agenda for the exceptional session and for the twenty-eighth session.

8.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its twenty-seventh session.

E.Report of the pre-session working group

13.A pre-session working group was convened from 4 to 8 February 2002 to prepare lists of issues and questions relating to the periodic reports that would be considered by the Committee at its twenty-seventh session.

14.The pre-session working group met together with the pre-session working group for the exceptional session which had been authorized by the General Assembly in its resolution 56/229 of 24 December 2001. The following 10 members of the Committee participated: Charlotte Abaka (Africa), Ivanka Corti (Europe), Yolanda Ferrer Gomez (Latin America and the Caribbean), Rosalyn Hazelle (Latin America and the Caribbean), Rosario Manalo (Asia), Göran Melander (Europe), Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (Africa), Frances Livingstone Raday (Europe), Zelmira Regazzoli (Latin America and the Caribbean) and Heisoo Shin (Asia).

15.The working group prepared lists of issues and questions relating to the reports of five States parties, namely, Belgium, Denmark, Tunisia, Ukraine and Zambia.

16.At its 550th meeting, on 3 June, the Chairperson of the pre-session working group, Mr. Melander, introduced the report of the group.

Chapter III

Report of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh sessions of the Committee

17.Ms. Abaka, the Chairperson of the Committee, reported on her attendance at the forty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, where she made a statement and participated in panel discussions. She also participated in a meeting organized by the Organization of African Unity with representatives of States parties from Africa, during which she discussed the Convention, its Optional Protocol and the reporting obligations of States parties. She also drew attention to the availability of technical assistance from the Division for the Advancement of Women at the request of States parties. The Chairperson also participated in the International Women’s Day celebration on 8 March, which was dedicated to Afghan women, during which the Committee’s message of solidarity with the women of Afghanistan, adopted at its twenty-sixth session, was read.

18.Ms. Abaka informed the Committee of her participation in the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on Human Rights and side events to that session. She informed the Committee that efforts should be made to make the work of the Committee better known among the Geneva-based human rights mechanisms and non-governmental organizations, through, inter alia, Internet technology.

19.The Chairperson informed the Committee of her activities following the seminar at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, which had been attended by most members. Immediately following that seminar, she had travelled with the Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Chief of the Women’s Rights Section of the Division to Stockholm in order to participate in a half-day seminar for non-governmental organizations on the implementation of the concluding comments of the Committee on the report of Sweden in that State party. She indicated that the seminar had been well attended and that there was significant interest in the Convention, its Optional Protocol and the work of the Committee in Sweden. The Chairperson also had the opportunity to meet with the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, and several government Ministers who were extremely interested in the Committee’s work. Ms. Abaka noted that her activities in Sweden made it clear that the Committee should consider developing a mechanism for following up its concluding comments on reports of States parties. She indicated that that would be a topic for discussion at the first Inter-Committee meeting, which would be held at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights immediately following the twenty-seventh session of the Committee; she and Ms. Corti and Ms. Gonzalez would attend on the Committee’s behalf.

Chapter IV

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

A.Introduction

20.At its twenty-seventh session, the Committee considered the reports of seven States parties under article 18 of the Convention: the combined initial and second report of one State party; combined initial, second, third and fourth reports of one State party; the combined third and fourth periodic reports of three States parties; the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of one State party; and the fourth and fifth periodic reports of one State party.

21.The Committee prepared concluding comments on each of the States parties 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 provided below.

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

1.Combined initial and second periodic report

Suriname

22.The Committee considered the combined initial and second periodic report of Suriname (CEDAW/C/SUR/1-2) at its 557th, 558th, and 566th meetings on 7 and 13 June 2002 (CEDAW/C/SR.557, 558 and 566).

Introduction by the State party

23.In introducing the report, the representative of Suriname stated that the Government took gender development and gender policy very seriously. In 1983, an official governmental Women’s Bureau had been established, and in 1998 a National Gender Bureau had been incorporated in the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Government had participated in international women’s conferences, the recommendations of which provided valuable inputs for its gender policy. A special passage regarding gender had been included in its Declaration 2000-2005 and, taking into consideration the Beijing Platform for Action and the Caribbean Community Post-Beijing Plan of Action, an Integral Gender Action Plan had been prepared for the period 2000-2005. A gender management system had been set up in order to manage and coordinate gender actions from within different ministries and to ensure gender mainstreaming. In 2001, the Ministry of Home Affairs had established the Commission on Gender Legislation with the task of advising and elaborating legislation in conformity with the Convention and with the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.

24.In order to contextualize the current gender policy, the representative highlighted the socio-economic and political situation of the country. She noted, in particular, the serious negative impact of the current economic crisis on all layers of the community and on the lives of women.

25.The principle of equality of women and men was embodied in the Constitution, which prohibited discrimination, including on the basis of sex. If a woman was discriminated against on the basis of sex, she could resort to the common court.

26.In Suriname, women and men had equal access to education as guaranteed by the Constitution. Education at all levels was almost completely State-funded and was in principle free of charge for everyone, although that was likely to change in view of the current economic crisis. The representative pointed out that there were no available data on dropouts, but girls tended to drop out of school as a result of pregnancy. In order to encourage teenage mothers to complete their schooling, in 1989 the Government had initiated a student-mothers’ project which, in 1992, had passed into the hands of a non-governmental organization. The representative informed the Committee that Suriname had always had a reasonably well developed public health system. However, since the early 1990s, owing to increasing poverty, there had been a reduction in access to medical facilities. Up to 2002 about 6,000 people had been infected with the HIV/AIDS virus, and more women than men were infected among the younger age groups. In order to fight the disease, the Government had undertaken several activities in the field of policy, research and education.

27.The representative pointed out that the Constitution guaranteed women the right to vote and stand for election and that in the Surinamese electoral system, women had the possibility of participating in the determination and execution of government policy. The participation of women in politics at national level had increased from 10 per cent in 1991 to 19.6 per cent in 2000. The participation of women in the current Government was 18 per cent and 3 ambassadors out of 15 were women. The low participation of women in decision-making positions was ascribed to psychological as well as cultural factors. There was a need for qualitative studies on the conditions underlying the limited participation of women in political life. In order to improve the situation, the Government had undertaken various activities, including the production of booklets to foster positive images of women.

28.The representative informed the Committee that 93 per cent of police reports in 1993 concerned mistreatment, particularly of women abused by their husband or partner. The Ministries of Justice and Police, Home Affairs and Social Affairs and Housing had played a significant role in combating violence against women. For example, the Ministry of Justice had participated in all commissions directed at legislative change, while the Ministry of Home Affairs, through its National Gender Bureau, played a facilitating role in activities aimed at care, counselling and training within the framework of the elimination of violence against women. The representative also informed the Committee about the training received by members of Parliament in 2000 as a background to the elaboration of legislation regarding violence against women and women’s rights. Several non-governmental organizations were also active in community programmes to reduce the incidence of violence against women.

29.In concluding, the representative noted that the national gender policy covered all areas included in the Convention. She also highlighted the fruitful collaboration between the Government and civil society in the preparation of the report. Non-governmental organizations had played an important role in the achievement of gender equality in the country and had been very active in the formulation and implementation of the current national gender policy.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

30.The Committee commends the State party for ratifying the Convention without reservations in 1993 and for its combined initial and second report, which, although delayed, complied with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of initial reports. The Committee noted the limited amount of updated data in several areas.

31.The Committee commends the State party on its high-level delegation, headed by the Minister of Home Affairs, and expresses appreciation for the oral presentation, which provided additional information on the current situation of implementation of the Convention in Suriname and the responses to some of the oral questions posed by the Committee. The Committee welcomes the Minister’s announcement that Suriname’s next periodic report would be submitted to the Committee in February 2003, and the fact that the State party would include the outstanding answers to the oral questions in that report.

32.The Committee welcomes the fact that the State party has the intention to undertake action to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Positive aspects

33.The Committee commends the State party for drafting its report in collaboration with civil society, particularly non-governmental organizations. It notes with satisfaction that the State party recognizes the important role of the non-governmental organizations working on women’s rights and gender equality.

34.The Committee notes with appreciation the implementation of the Gender Management System to coordinate the application of the Integral Gender Action Plan and the gender initiatives within various ministries. It also welcomes the adoption and development in Suriname of the Integral Gender Action Plan (2000-2005), which takes into account the Beijing Platform for Action, the Caribbean Community Post-Beijing Plan of Action and Suriname’s national priorities.

35.The Committee commends the State party on the appointment in 2001 of a Commission on Gender Legislation tasked with producing gender-sensitive legislation and reviewing draft laws related to the international conventions on gender equality and to present recommendations on new legislation.

36.The Committee commends the State party for its support of a human-rights-based approach to development in which human rights education is key. It commends the State party on the creation of the Human Rights Education Project aimed at raising awareness about the importance of human rights instruments and the necessity of implementing them. The Committee hopes that the dissemination of information about the Convention is part of this project and wishes to be informed of the impact of the project in the next periodic report.

37.The Committee commends the State party for its sponsorship and promotion of the issue of older women at the international level.

38.The Committee commends the State party on the action taken and measures introduced to combat, punish and eradicate violence against women, in particular domestic violence, and looks forward to a further strengthening of activities in this area.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

39.The Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic legislation and that no domestic remedies have been introduced into domestic legislation to enforce the Constitutional provision against discrimination based on sex.

40. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to incorporate the Convention into domestic law and introduce procedures that will allow women to effectively enforce the prohibition of discrimination based on sex. The Committee also recommends that the State party introduce programmes to create awareness about the Convention, the Constitution and such remedies. The Committee requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report, including information on whether the Convention and the Constitution have been invoked by women before domestic courts.

41.The Committee notes with concern that a number of provisions exist in domestic law, including the Personnel Act, the Identity Act, the Nationality and Residence Act and the Elections Act, which allow for discrimination against women. The Committee is also concerned at the slowness of legal reform with respect to discrimination against women. In particular, it notes that an amendment to the Penal Code criminalizing gender-based discrimination, presented to the State Council in 1993, is still pending.

42. The Committee recommends that the State party review existing laws and amend discriminatory provisions to bring them into line with the Convention and the Constitution and to ensure compatibility between all national legislation and international conventions.

43.The Committee is concerned that the apparent lack of coordination among different mechanisms related to gender and a failure to allocate clear areas of responsibility may create obstacles to the effective implementation of the Convention.

44. The Committee recommends that the State party clearly define the mandates and the responsibilities of the different mechanisms related to gender and the interaction among them.

45.The Committee is concerned that the National Gender Bureau in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is responsible for the formulation and execution of government policy on gender, does not have adequate human, financial and material resources for its work. The Committee is also concerned that the National Institute for the Promotion and Protection of Fundamental Human Rights has not functioned since 1995 and this may negatively affect the promotion and protection of women’s human rights.

46.The Committee recommends that the State party provide the National Gender Bureau with adequate human, financial and material resources to give it visibility and effectiveness and to ensure effective implementation of governmental policies and programmes related to gender equality. It also encourages gender mainstreaming in all ministries. The Committee also recommends that the State party take measures to revive the National Institute for the Promotion and Protection of Fundamental Human Rights and ensure that this institute incorporates a gender perspective in its work.

47.The Committee is concerned about the deep-rooted stereotypical attitudes that undermine the rights of women and girls and the State party’s apparent acceptance of the limited participation of women in public and political life as a result of these attitudes.

48. The Committee calls upon the State party to take urgent measures aimed at changing stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including through awareness-raising and educational campaigns directed at both women and men and at the media. The Committee emphasizes that a policy of gender equality in compliance with the Convention will require the recognition that women can have various roles in society, not only the important role of mother and wife, exclusively responsible for children and the family, but also as an individual person and actor in her community and in the society in general.

49.The Committee is concerned about the low penalty for those who exploit prostitutes and that those who exploit prostitutes are not prosecuted. The Committee notes with regret that trafficking in women and girls has not been legally defined and has not been given the attention it deserves. The Committee is particularly concerned that the problem is viewed as a crime against public decency, rather than as a human rights issue, and that it is not being addressed owing to the lack of data. The Committee expresses concern that the maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment for trafficking in human beings may be too lenient given the gravity of the human rights violations involved.

50. The Committee recommends the development of programmes of action for women forced into prostitution by poverty and the introduction of policies to ensure the prosecution of, and stronger penalties for, those who exploit prostitutes and of adults involved in the exploitation of child prostitutes. The Committee also recommends the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat the trafficking of women, which should include the prosecution and appropriate punishment of offenders, witness protection and the rehabilitation of women and girls who have been victims of trafficking. The Committee recommends that the State party consider increasing the penalty for trafficking in women. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next report comprehensive information on prostitution and on the trafficking of women and girls to allow the Committee to better understand the extent of the problems in Suriname.

51.Despite the active efforts of various government ministries to combat violence and protect women and children from all forms of mental and physical abuse and the work of non-governmental organizations and community groups on the issue, the Committee expresses concern that violence against women is a serious reality in Suriname. The Committee is encouraged, however, by the heightened awareness among women indicated by the high percentage of women who reported incidents to the police. The Committee notes with concern that, according to a 1998 study, 50 per cent of women indicated that there was sexual harassment in the workplace and one third of the women experienced sexual harassment at work.

52. The Committee urges the State party to place a high priority on measures to address violence against women in the family and in society in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 19 and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. 1 The Committee hopes that information on the report of the Government Commission on Public Decency Legislation enacted by Decree No. 8212 of 9 December 1996 will be included in the third periodic report. The Committee also requests the State party to provide information in its next periodic report on whether as indicated in the report, it has established a national commission to make an inventory of legislation on violence against women and to examine the compatibility of such legislation with treaties and report on any progress in this regard.

53.The Committee is concerned that marital rape is not an offence and that there are inadequate data on this form of domestic violence.

54. The Committee urges the State party to criminalize marital rape, prosecute offenders and provide data on this form of domestic violence in its next periodic report.

55.Noting the importance of ensuring the broadest possible participation of women to achieve adequate representation at all levels in Suriname, the Committee is concerned about women’s underrepresentation in decision-making bodies in political and economic structures. The Committee notes that, although there are numerous women participating in training programmes, with respect to diplomatic careers the participation of women at the higher levels of the diplomatic service is low.

56. The Committee recommends the adoption of strategies to increase the number of women in decision-making bodies at all levels and in all areas. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention to increase the number of women in decision-making levels in government, governmental bodies, public administration and diplomatic missions. It also recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to organize special training programmes for women and to conduct, on a regular basis, awareness-raising campaigns in this regard.

57.The Committee is concerned that, in some educational institutions, teenage mothers are not always readmitted to junior secondary schools because of the perception that “the young mothers would have a negative influence on other girls”, while teenage fathers are not prevented from attending schools.

58. The Committee requests the State party to include age-appropriate sex education in school curricula and to conduct awareness campaigns so as to prevent teenage pregnancies. The Committee requests the State party to include information on the impact of programmes to prevent teenage pregnancy in its next periodic report. The Committee also urges the State party to adopt the necessary legal or administrative measures to prohibit schools from barring young mothers and pregnant teenagers.

59.The Committee expresses concern at discriminatory practices and certain legal labour provisions that could lead to discrimination against women workers with regard to reproductive health and maternity and notes that, in the civil service, women are discriminated against when entering into marriage or becoming pregnant. It notes that regulations on flexible working hours are lacking and that the employer has the right to decrease the number of vacation days during the year in which maternity leave is enjoyed.

60. The Committee recommends that the State party remove discriminatory labour legislation in accordance with article 11 of the Convention and ensure that women workers have working conditions and social security benefits equal to those enjoyed by men, as well as protection for maternity without discrimination under article 4, paragraph 2 of the Convention.

61.The Committee notes with concern that rates of HIV/AIDS infection have increased and the majority of those who are HIV-positive are young people between the ages of 15 and 29, with girls tending to become infected at a younger age than boys.

62. The Committee urges the State party to address the gender aspects of HIV/AIDS, including the power differential between women and men, which often prevents women from insisting on safe and responsible sex practices. It encourages the State party to strengthen its efforts to raise awareness and educate women and girls on ways of self-protection. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that women and girls have equal rights and access to health care and social services.

63.The Committee notes with concern that there are provisions in the penal code regarding family planning, including prohibiting the display and offering of contraceptives for the prevention of pregnancy, although these provisions are not enforced. Noting that male condom use is very low, the Committee is concerned that only women are targeted with regard to contraception. The Committee also notes that information and statistics are missing as to other important areas of health to women, including on menopause, ovarian cancer and substance abuse, including tobacco, and the mental and psychological health of women.

64. The Committee recommends that the laws restricting family planning activities be repealed. It urges the State party to provide women and men with information on family planning and to introduce programmes to encourage men to take part in family planning responsibilities. The Committee underlines the importance of article 12 of the Convention and urges the State party to implement policies and programmes in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 24. The Committee requests the State party to provide detailed information on other areas of health that are of importance to women in its next periodic report.

65.The Committee is concerned about the situation of rural women, in particular the indigenous Amerindians and the Maroons, in the coastal plain and in the interior of Suriname, who are disadvantaged by poor infrastructure, limited markets, obstacles in availability and accessibility of agricultural land and agricultural credit, low literacy rates, ignorance of existing regulations, lack of services and environmental pollution. It notes with concern the serious absence of specific policies in all these areas, including on family planning and preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The Committee is also concerned that women’s work in rural areas is not considered productive labour and that they are hardly represented at all in local government bodies. The Committee is also concerned about the absence of detailed information on the situation of older women in rural areas.

66. The Committee urges the State party to give full attention to the needs of rural women, including older women, particularly Amerindian and Maroon women, to ensure that they benefit from policies and programmes in all areas, in particular access to health, education, social services and decision-making. The Committee requests the State party to provide detailed information in this regard in its next periodic report.

67.The Committee is concerned at the scarcity of details as to the legal capacity of women, in particular unmarried women, under articles 15 and 16 of the Convention in the report of the State party. It is also concerned at the very low age of marriage for some communities.

68. The Committee urges the State party to review the law on marriage in line with articles 15 and 16 of the Convention and include in its next report more information and data, including judicial decisions, on cases involving residence, domicile and travel of women, and also with regard to their children. The Committee further requests the State party to include in its next periodic report information on the progress with regard to reform of the laws on marriage.

69. The Committee encourages the State party to consider 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.

70. 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

71. The Committee urges the State party to respond in its next periodic report to the outstanding issues raised in the constructive dialogue and the specific issues raised in the present conclusions. It also urges the State party to improve the collection and analysis of statistical data, disaggregated by gender and age, and to submit such data to the Committee in its next report.

72. The Committee requests that the text of the present conclusions be widely disseminated in Suriname so as to inform the public, in particular administrators, officials and politicians, of the measures taken to guarantee de jure and de facto equality between men and women and of the supplementary measures to be adopted in that area. The Committee also urges the State party to continue to give broad publicity to the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the general recommendations of the Committee, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace in the Twenty-First Century”, which was held in June 2000, particularly among women’s associations and human rights organizations.

2.Combined initial, second, third and fourth report

Saint Kitts and Nevis

73.The Committee considered the combined initial, second, third and fourth report of Saint Kitts and Nevis (CEDAW/C/KNA/1-4) at its 553rd, 554th and 556th meetings, on 5 and 13 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.553, 554 and 556).

Introduction by the State party

74.In introducing the report, the representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis acknowledged the efforts and contributions of non-governmental organizations, women’s groups and international agencies in advancing the cause of women in the country and expressed regret for the late submission of the combined initial, second, third and fourth periodic reports of Saint Kitts and Nevis to the Committee.

75.The representative informed the Committee about the institutional structure that existed in the State party to address women’s issues. The national women’s machinery included a Ministry of Gender Affairs, which had initially been established as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 1984, an inter-Ministerial Committee, a National Advisory Committee and gender focal points. The national women’s machinery had been strengthened through an increase in budgetary allocations and human resources. In 2000, the name of the department had been changed from Women’s Affairs to Gender Affairs as it was felt that that name would more accurately represent the goals of gender and development with women and men as decision makers.

76.The representative indicated that the National Plan on Gender and Development for 1996-2000, developed and approved by the Government in 1996, included five of the twelve critical areas of concern highlighted in the Beijing Platform for Action, namely: violence against women and children; poverty; institutional mechanisms; health and leadership. He also mentioned that gender mainstreaming had been embraced by the Government as the most practical means to ensure women’s equal participation in national development.

77.The representative stressed that, although Saint Kitts and Nevis had made tremendous progress in the area of women’s participation, there was still not a critical mass of women in decision-making or political representation. Only three women had been elected to political office in the nation’s history, and no women had ever been appointed ambassador.

78.The representative informed the Committee that Saint Kitts and Nevis had achieved greater success in the area of violence against women than in any other area. In that context, he described some relevant initiatives launched during the period under review, such as awareness courses on gender-based violence for police officers, public health nurses, social workers, counsellors and career guidance workers, a Domestic Violence Act tabled and passed in 2000, various dissemination activities in the media and awareness-raising campaigns, including Zero Tolerance in 1997 and a Life Free of Violence Campaign in 1997-1998.

79.The representative pointed out that numerical gender equality in education was outstanding. In fact, enrolment statistics for 2001 indicated that, at all levels with the exception of the primary school level, the enrolment rate was higher for women than for men, and a new policy had been announced affirming the right of pregnant adolescents and teenage mothers to return to school. In that regard, in November 2001, “Project Viola” had been launched, with the main objective to create an enabling environment in which teenage mothers could complete their education.

80.The representative also underlined a number of achievements attained with regard to health, in particular, the efforts made by the Ministry of Health in bringing the maternal death rate as close to zero as possible and to implement an ante/post-natal health programme that would ensure optimum health for women. He further indicated that family planning was provided at health centres and by the family planning association. Breast examinations and cervical cancer screening had been instituted free of charge.

81.The representative informed the Committee that, although women were outperforming men at various educational levels, that achievement had not been translated into economic returns for women. Hence, women continued to be concentrated in the jobs that paid the least. In addition, many women were solely responsible for the care of children and that created a financial burden for them. The representative added that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs/Gender Affairs had always implemented programmes that sought to encourage women to improve their caring capabilities. Skills training programmes with an entrepreneurial component had been organized in every rural community and many women had become self-employed or had used the skills gained to augment their income.

82.Finally, the representative stated that the Counselling Department of the Ministry of Social Development, Community and Gender Affairs piloted a parenting programme for fathers which had been very successful as fathers were able to interact in a non-threatening environment with facilitators. It also benefited women and children, since the sensitivity of men to their role as nurturers of children facilitated the mainstreaming of gender in the domestic sphere. As a result, a National Fathers’ Association had been created.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

83.The Committee commends the State party for its ratification of the Convention without reservations in 1985 and for preparing and submitting its combined initial, second, third and fourth report. It expresses appreciation for the State party’s efforts to follow the Committee’s guidelines when preparing the report.

84.The Committee also thanks the State party for sending a high-level delegation headed by the Minister for Social Development, Community and Gender Affairs. It also commends the State party for the frankness of the report and the sincerity of its presentation, which enabled the Committee to enter into a constructive dialogue.

85.The Committee notes that the measures taken by the State party, particularly the National Plan on Gender and Development, are relevant to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Positive aspects

86.The Committee welcomes the high level of commitment and political will demonstrated by the State party in the implementation of the principles of gender equality laid down in the Convention and the important leadership role played in the region.

87.The Committee commends the State party on the innovative national mechanisms established with a view to ensuring that women and men enjoy equal rights and on the progress achieved in the advancement of women over the past five years.

88.The Committee commends the State party on the achievements made in its health policy, particularly the reduction of the maternal mortality rate and programmes for post-partum care.

89.The Committee commends the State party on the progress achieved in the educational sphere, with a larger number of females enrolled, except in the primary schools.

90.The Committee is pleased to note that the State party has achieved great success in promoting gender equality in the information media through close collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Affairs. In this respect, the Committee particularly appreciates the prohibition laid down in the Law Reform Act on reporting or broadcasting matters which might lead to the identification of the defendants in sex offence cases.

91.The Committee commends the State party on the establishment of a Code of Ethics and Standards within the Labour Code to regulate the activities of foreign companies which wish to operate in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention

92.The Committee notes that one of the main obstacles to the full implementation of the Convention in Saint Kitts and Nevis has been the hurricanes which frequently devastate the country, and which in 1998 destroyed 85 per cent of the housing stock.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

93.The Committee is concerned that the provisions of the Convention cannot be invoked in the courts.

94. The Committee encourages the State party to accord the Convention the legal status it deserves as the most important and binding international legal instrument in the sphere of the advancement of women and the elimination of discrimination against them.

95.The Committee expresses concern about the underrepresentation of women in decision-making posts and in political bodies, particularly Parliament.

96. The Committee urges the State party to introduce a range of legal, political and administrative options, in line with, temporary special measures, in accordance with the provisions of article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, in order to improve the access of women to decision-making. The Committee recommends the adoption of programmes to change the tenor of the political discourse in campaigns in order to achieve greater female participation in them.

97.The Committee expresses concern at the low number of women in the diplomatic service, particularly in higher posts.

98. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures, including in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1 of the Convention, to encourage women to enter into diplomatic careers.

99.The Committee is particularly concerned that, although women have a higher level of education than men, this has not been translated into promotion of women to senior posts in the public and private sectors and/or increased economic returns for women, who continue to be concentrated mainly in the informal sector and in the jobs that pay the least.

100. The Committee recommends the adoption of legislation that guarantees equal pay for work of equal value. It also recommends that measures should be taken to deal with the situation of unemployed women, and the large number of women who work in the informal sector, with a view to their inclusion in the formal sector, and access to social benefits.

101.The Committee expresses concern about the high rate of teenage pregnancy.

102. The Committee urges the State party to intensify awareness raising and sexual education aimed at responsible sexual behaviour in the schools and society at large in order to prevent pregnancies. In addition, the Committee recommends that men be involved in the design and implementation of all family planning strategies, policies and programmes.

103.The Committee expresses concern about the persistence of cultural practices and strong stereotyped attitudes towards the roles and responsibilities of women and men, which affect all spheres of life and impede the full implementation of the Convention.

104. The Committee urges the State party to increase its efforts to create awareness in the society about the need to change stereotyped and discriminatory attitudes concerning the role of women and girls, including through specific programmes directed towards boys and men. In particular, the Committee recommends the extension to all communities of the Ministry of Social Development’s pilot parenting programme for fathers, in order to promote the idea of shared parental responsibility.

105.Although it welcomes the legislation that has been adopted, in particular, the Law Reform Act and the 2000 Domestic Violence Act, and the programmes to prevent violence against women which are being implemented, the Committee expresses concern about the persistent high level of violence, particularly domestic violence, in the State party. The Committee is concerned about the high incidence of sexual abuse of girls particularly by older men. It is also concerned about the unwillingness of women to initiate complaints of domestic violence against husbands and to testify against them because of the unwritten code of family loyalty, which regards such violence as a private matter.

106. The Committee urges the State party to enhance its efforts to combat violence against women and girls, in accordance with general recommendation No. 19. It also encourages the State party come up with creative solutions for shelters for victims of violence, adopt a zero tolerance approach to the sexual abuse of girls, and establish telephone help lines, rehabilitation programmes for offenders, and educational programmes targeted at men and boys on the prevention of violence and the reform of traditional negative attitudes towards women. The Committee also urges the State party to prosecute the perpetrators of abuse against girls. The Committee further urges the State party to pursue prosecution of offenders in cases of domestic violence even in the absence of testimony of the victim in the Court.

107.Noting that marijuana is used in the country, the Committee is concerned about the lack of sex-disaggregated data on drug use.

108. The Committee encourages the State party to collect data on the use of drugs and alcohol and its possible correlation with violence against women. It also encourages the State party to implement measures in order to prevent addiction to all types of drugs by young people.

109.The Committee expresses concern about the lack of legal aid for women and the lengthy process which makes it difficult for women to take men to court in order to obtain child support. The Committee is also concerned that such a lengthy process allows men to serve a prison sentence instead of paying maintenance.

110. The Committee urges the State party to take adequate legislative measures to make it easier for women to obtain child support and access to legal aid.

111.The Committee is concerned about the lack of information about the phenomenon of prostitution in Saint Kitts and Nevis. The Committee is particularly concerned about the lack of adequate measures to prosecute pimps.

112. The Committee encourages the State party to study the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, especially in view of the recent increase of tourism in the country. The Committee also urges the State party to formulate a broad strategy against trafficking and prostitution, which should include the prosecution and punishment of traffickers and pimps.

113.The Committee notes the lack of statistical data disaggregated by sex in the economic sector, in particular as to the informal employment sector and part-time work. It also notes the lack of data on sexual harassment at the workplace.

114. The Committee recommends broad collection of data disaggregated by sex, in particular with regard to the economic sector and urges the State party to include these in its next report.

115. The Committee urges the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention, and to deposit its instrument of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1 of the Convention, on the Committee’s sessions, as soon as possible.

116. The Committee urges the State party to respond in its next periodic report to the outstanding issues raised in the constructive dialogue and the specific issues raised in the present concluding comments.

117. Taking account of the gender dimension 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

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

3.Combined third and fourth periodic reports

Belgium

119.The Committee considered the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Belgium (CEDAW/C/BEL/3-4) at its 559th and 560th meetings, on 10 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.559 and 560).

Introduction by the State party

120.In introducing the combined third and fourth periodic reports, the representative of Belgium noted that, for a federal State, responsibilities and competencies existed at both the federal and federated levels (consisting of the communities and regions). No hierarchy existed between federal and federated entities, but federated entities enjoyed maximum autonomy in policy-making based on the specific needs of their regions or communities. He pointed out that the report had resulted from collaboration between the various levels of power within the State party.

121.Since 1989 Belgium had made progress towards achieving equality between women and men, and each ministry had designed policies to ensure the advancement of women. Specific measures had been taken recently to ensure gender mainstreaming in policies at both the federal and federated levels.

122.In November 1998 Belgium had removed its reservation to article 7 of the Convention, and the procedure to remove the reservation to article 15 of the Convention had been initiated. Belgium had also begun its ratification process for the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which required ratification of the Protocol by the federal State and the communities and regions. Belgium had also taken steps to support the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, pertaining to the Committee’s meeting time.

123.Equality between women and men was implicitly recognized by the Constitution; however, in February 2002, an explicit guarantee of equality had been incorporated into the Constitution in order to provide for redress in cases of discrimination and to guarantee both women and men their rights and freedoms, particularly in respect of equal access to elected and public office.

124.Belgium had made the struggle against all forms of discrimination one of its priorities. Draft legislation currently under consideration in the Federal Parliament would forbid all discrimination based on sex, race, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, age, religion, state of health (either present or future), handicap or physical characteristic. The creation of a national women’s rights institution, which would conduct research and coordinate federal policies on relevant issues, was also under consideration.

125.New measures to coordinate equal-opportunity measures had recently been introduced in Belgium’s French-speaking community. To ensure consistency and coordination of action by federal and federated authorities, a conference on equal opportunities had been held among the country’s various governing entities, addressing violence against women; equal access of women and men to new information technologies; participation of women in the decision-making process, particularly gender-balanced representation on advisory bodies; and the relationship between public and private life, specifically in relation to childcare.

126.Confronting domestic violence and trafficking in women and sexual exploitation had been deemed of the highest priority. On 10 November 2001, an extensive awareness-raising campaign had been launched with regard to domestic violence. New local policies on physical and sexual violence had been initiated, including measures to gather statistical data and provide assistance to victims. The responsible ministries at all levels of government were reviewing a national plan to combat violence against women. Legislation on trafficking in persons, particularly women and children, for the purpose of sexual exploitation had been introduced on 13 April 1995; it accorded greater weight to statements of victims and provided increased protection. There had been more than 200 arrests and judgements in 1999 and 2000, and some 230 victims had been treated at specialized centres.

127.Belgium had developed a coordinated employment policy aimed at integrating equality between sexes. The 2002 National Plan for Employment identified and focused attention on challenges facing three groups in finding employment: seniors, women and the underskilled. Among the Government’s actions to increase women’s access to employment and give them better opportunities was the introduction of a bonus to long-term unemployed single parents who took jobs; compensatory time; promotion of training; and development of services.

128.In order to take advantage of new information and communication technologies, federal and federated authorities had concluded a cooperative agreement on women and new technologies in November 2001. The representative noted that it was also important to make what had been perceived as male spheres of employment open to women, particularly in the new technology sectors or in sectors that utilized modern means of production based on these technologies. In order to ensure full and complete participation by women in the marketplace, steps were also being taken to promote equal pay for work of equal value, with a particular focus on the development of gender-neutral and non-discriminatory systems of valuation and classification. Negotiations were under way to increase the participation of civil society in those efforts.

129.As the first European State to introduce the principle of gender-based quotas on electoral ballots (in 1994), Belgium had continued to develop proactive policies to encourage female participation in public life. By 1999 the quota system had increased women’s participation as electoral candidates well above the minimum figure required by law, and the number of women actually elected to legislative, communal and regional bodies had risen to one quarter of the total. However, women did not yet enjoy equal representation with men within decision-making bodies, and Belgium was determined to achieve true parity between the sexes in positions of power. To this end, efforts were being made to fight stereotypes and change the political culture of the country. Encouraging women to be politically active was also a priority in the Flemish community, which had developed a strategic plan aimed at supporting women who had been elected and recruiting more women as candidates.

130.The French community had been paying great attention to encouraging the participation of women in sports as a means of integration and development, particularly in underprivileged urban settings or rural areas. Women’s health had also been of great concern, with the federal and federated authorities having recently launched a massive breast cancer detection campaign. All women between the ages of 50 and 69 were entitled to free testing every two years. Awareness-raising campaigns had been organized at the communities level, in which each woman was personally invited for a cancer screening test.

131.In concluding, the representative assured the Committee that progress on implementation of undertakings made by Belgium and enshrined in the Beijing Platform for Action was the subject of annual reports by the federal and Flemish governments to their respective Parliaments. Future challenges for Belgium included the need to combat indirect discrimination, the need for more coordinated gathering of gender-sensitive statistical data and indicators, and the systematic collection of a relevant body of jurisprudence. It was important to discourage the notion that all barriers to gender equality had already been removed and to take positive actions to sensitize the population to gender-equality issues in order to address stereotypes.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

132.The Committee commends the State party for its combined third and fourth periodic reports, although it regrets that it is not in accordance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. The Committee welcomes the written replies to the questions of the Committee’s pre-session working group. The Committee also welcomes the written responses to a number of additional questions posed during the constructive dialogue, which were provided in the final week of the session.

133.The Committee welcomes the large delegation but regrets that no high-level representatives with political responsibilities constituted part of the delegation, as this would have enhanced the dialogue that took place between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

134.The Committee welcomes the fact that Belgium removed its reservation to article 7 of the Convention, that it is considering lifting its reservation to article 15 of the Convention and that it has started the ratification process of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

135.The Committee expresses satisfaction that the State party has made significant efforts to implement the Beijing Platform for Action.

Positive aspects

136.The Committee commends the State party on its employment policy, which integrates equality between women and men. It notes with satisfaction the affirmative action measures provided for by Belgian legislation since the late 1980s, in order to bring about de facto equality between women and men in the public and private sectors. In particular, it expresses satisfaction at the actions taken to create a better distribution of working and household tasks between women and men.

137.The Committee commends the State party for its measures to eliminate traditional and stereotypical attitudes regarding the role of men and women in the family, in employment and in society.

138.The Committee commends the State party for introducing the rape law of 4 July 1989, the royal ordinances for the protection of workers against sexual harassment of 19 September 1992 and 9 March 1995, the law on human trafficking of 13 April 1995 and the law to combat violence between partners of 24 November 1997. It also commends the State party for the development by the Ethics Commission, pursuant to the law of March 1995, of a code of ethics for telecommunications information services in an effort to protect minors, in particular the girl child, by monitoring the presence of violence and sex in media programmes.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

139.The Committee, while recognizing the adoption of a wide range of gender-equality policies, is concerned that a certain number of those policies have yet to be implemented or evaluated.

140. The Committee urges the State party to implement all policies that have been formulated and to make an assessment of the measures already implemented with a view to future improvements.

141.While noting that the State party’s gender policy appears to be formulated primarily in the framework of the Beijing Platform for Action and European Union provisions, the Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been given central importance as a binding human rights instrument and basis for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the advancement of women.

142. The Committee urges the State party to place emphasis on the Convention as a binding human rights instrument, and to view the Platform for Action as a complementary policy document to the Convention in its efforts to achieve the goals of equality. It furthermore urges the State party to take proactive measures to raise awareness about the Convention.

143.While recognizing that the existence of numerous federal and local structures on the advancement of women ensures that adequate attention is given to women’s issues in the country and provides enhanced conditions for gender mainstreaming, the Committee notes that these various structures, based on different levels of autonomy and authority, might create difficulties as regards implementation of the Convention, as well as regarding coordination, accountability, responsibility and uniformity of results in the implementation of the Convention.

144. The Committee recommends to the State party that it ensure, through effective coordination of all efforts at all levels in all areas, that uniformity of results in the implementation of the Convention is achieved.

145.The Committee expresses concern that, in defining a broad concept of equality, the Constitution of Belgium does not specifically address discrimination on the basis of sex. While noting that the report addresses discrimination against men, the Committee emphasizes that the obligations in the Convention are directed at the elimination of discrimination against women.

146. The Committee calls on the State party to make the necessary legislative changes to deal with discrimination on the basis of sex. It urges the State party to frame its gender policy in both the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality, which are two different but equally important goals in the quest for women’s empowerment. The Committee recommends that, when addressing discrimination against men, the State party should retain its focus on the Convention, and the need to achieve gender equality by eliminating discrimination against women.

147.While recognizing the impressive gains achieved in the participation of women in public life resulting from the implementation of the 1994 law to promote balanced representation of men and women in electoral candidate lists, the Committee is concerned that, in some cases, the quotas have not necessarily led to the expected results.

148. The Committee urges the State party to analyse the challenges that it has encountered in achieving the goals set in the 1994 law and to evaluate achievements on the basis of final results. It calls on the State party to ensure that women and men are able to participate on an equal footing in the political sphere.

149.The Committee is concerned about the significant decline, in recent years, in women’s participation in the entrance examinations for the diplomatic service.

150. The Committee urges the State party to accelerate its efforts to increase the female presence in the diplomatic service.

151.The Committee is concerned about the high incidence of violence, including domestic violence, against women and children in the State party. In particular, the Committee is concerned that the mediation procedure established to facilitate reconciliation between the offender and the victim might condone violence by facilitating disadvantageous compromise. The Committee also expresses concern about the fact that Belgium’s law does not define sexual crime as a human rights violation and classifies sexual abuse as a crime of morality rather than as a violent crime.

152. The Committee calls on the State party to intensify its efforts to address the issue of violence against women, including domestic violence, as an infringement of human rights. In particular, the Committee urges the State Party to formulate appropriate measures and laws in conformity with its general recommendation 19 to prevent violence, punish and rehabilitate offenders and provide services for victims.

153.The Committee is concerned that sanctions under the 1995 law on human trafficking may not be adequate to deter trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that deletion of the crime of procuring to avoid sanctions for cohabitation may facilitate the exploitation of prostitutes.

154. The Committee recommends the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking in women and girls, including within the territory of the State party, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders, and increased international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls. It encourages the State party to increase its efforts to combat the root causes of trafficking and assist its victims through efforts of counselling and reintegration. It calls on the State party to ensure that trafficked women and girls have the support that they need so that they can provide testimony against their traffickers. It also calls on the State party to review the change in the Law on procurement to ensure that the exploitation of prostitutes is not facilitated.

155.The Committee is concerned that the report provides insufficient information about the situation of migrant and refugee women.

156. The Committee calls on the State party to provide comprehensive information on these groups of women in its next periodic report.

157.While recognizing the achievements in ensuring women’s health, in particular the State party’s comprehensive policy to combat HIV/AIDS, the Committee is concerned about the disparities with regard to the health of women throughout the country. It is furthermore concerned about the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy and voluntary termination of pregnancy among women as young as 14.

158. The Committee urges the State party to effect better coordination of its health policy in conformity with the Convention and general recommendation 24 on women and health in all regions of the country. It further calls on the State party to formulate policies, strategies and programmes to prevent early pregnancies, including education campaigns addressed to young men as well as young women.

159.While noting that the State party provided comprehensive annexes to the report, the Committee expresses concern about the insufficient sex-disaggregated statistical data in the report.

160. The Committee recommends a comprehensive compilation and analysis of sex-disaggregated data as relevant under federal and regional authorities. It urges the State party to include such statistics and data in the text of its next report rather than as annexes to the report.

161.The Committee is concerned about the continuing high level of unemployment among women, the high number of women in part-time and temporary jobs and the wage discrimination faced by women.

162. The Committee calls upon the State party to intensify its measures to increase women’s employment, to make sure that women have access to full-time and permanent jobs if they wish, and to promote equal pay for work of equal value.

163.The Committee is concerned about the discrimination women face concerning issues of social security and taxation.

164. The Committee urges the State party to analyse the various forms of discrimination on issues of social security and taxation faced by women, to remedy such discrimination and to provide information in its next report on these areas.

165.The Committee is concerned about the discriminatory nature of Belgian law on family names, which does not allow a child to be given the name of his/her mother at his/her birth when his/her parents are married or cohabiting.

166. The Committee calls on the State party to modify the legislation on family names to permit choices in transmitting family names to children.

167. The Committee urges the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to deposit, as soon as possible, its instrument of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, on the Committee’s meeting time.

168. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in these concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention.

169. 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next report.

170. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Belgium of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Belgium, and particularly government administrators and politicians, 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 results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century”.

Tunisia

171.The Committee considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Tunisia (CEDAW/C/TUN/3-4) at its 567th and 568th meetings, on 14 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.567 and 568).

Introduction by the State party

172.In introducing the report, the representative of Tunisia informed the Committee that, in the early days of the twentieth century, a reform movement advocating freedom for women had existed in Tunisia. Since the Personal Status Code of 1956 had eliminated polygamy, regulated divorce and defined a minimum legal age for marriage; and since the Tunisian Constitution of 1959 had enshrined the principle of equal rights between men and women in all fields, there had been a number of accomplishments in the country, including the Change of November 1987, which had consolidated women’s status within the family and society and had enhanced women’s role in the development process. Such gains were further reinforced following the major decisions announced on 13 August 1992 introducing new concepts, such as cooperation, complementarity, partnership and mutual respect.

173.The Government’s policy was grounded on the principle of effective equality between men and women within the family and society and women’s rights were an integral part of the overall system of human rights, which had become one of the priorities of political action in Tunisia since the Change. She also noted that, in response to the Committee’s recommendations following the discussion of Tunisia’s two reports in 1995, and in response to the recommendations contained in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, Tunisia had made various decisions in terms of institutional mechanisms and activity design and planning. Among the institutional mechanisms which had been established were: a committee on equal opportunity to monitor compliance with legislation; a committee on the image of women in the media within the National Council for Women and the Family; and a national committee for the promotion of rural women. Since 1995, Tunisia had also developed its legislative system, including the Personal Status Code, the Nationality Code, the Electoral Code and the Labour Code, in line with development needs.

174.The representative reviewed a number of indicators which indicated an accelerating pace of progress in Tunisia in giving concrete substance to equal opportunity between men and women and in integrating the principle of equal opportunity in all fields — education, vocational training, effective involvement in development activities and access to decision-making positions.

175.No section of society was excluded from Tunisia’s comprehensive development project, with appropriate attention being given to ensuring the integration of rural women within the economic and social cycle through a national strategy for the promotion of rural women, which was formulated in full partnership with civil society organizations devoted to development issues. The representative underscored the fact that such organizations were now playing a major role in formulating programmes and strategies and had thus become partners in the dynamics of development.

176.The representative stated that Tunisia’s determination to translate the values of equality between men and women into reality was dependent upon the dissemination of a whole body of culture aimed at changing mindsets and behaviours by promoting the values of solidarity and tolerance, civic behaviour, respect for others and dialogue within the family, thus contributing to the eradication of stereotypes. Great importance was attached by the Government to all factors that could impede the incorporation of such values, and priority was given to the issue of violence, both verbal and physical, with legislative and institutional steps being introduced in this context.

177.In order for progress in the promotion of women’s rights to continue in Tunisia, there was a need to develop a comprehensive network of mechanisms to monitor the evolution of the status of women in the country. They would include a national programme aimed at enhancing the national statistical system, the adoption of gender classification in all sectors, and the establishment of an observatory within the Centre for Research, Documentation and Information on Women to collect comparative data on the status of men and women in all fields.

178.In concluding, the representative affirmed that the promotion of women’s rights in the country had been included in the President’s Programme for the Future. She stated that, thanks to its political determination and the mobilization of modern technologies, Tunisia was resolved to make considerable headway in striking an equitable and comprehensive balance among the various components of society.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

179.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for submitting its combined third and fourth periodic report, which is in accordance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for the extensive written replies to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and the State party’s oral presentation, which provided additional information on the implementation of the Convention in Tunisia.

180.The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, headed by the Minister for Women and Family Affairs. The Committee appreciates the frank and constructive dialogue that took place between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

181.The Committee notes that governmental action, in particular the Ninth National Development Plan, is placed within the context of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

182.The Committee notes that reservations have been made by the State party to articles 9, paragraph 2; 15, paragraph 4; and 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d), (f), (g) and (h).

Positive aspects

183.The Committee commends the State party for its political will and commitment to implementing the Convention and to achieving equality between women and men, as reflected in a range of laws, institutions, policies, plans and programmes to address discrimination against women in Tunisia.

184.The Committee commends the State party on the early reforms of its Personal Status Code, which abolished polygamy and granted the right to divorce to both spouses, and its reform of the inheritance law. The Committee welcomes the continuing legislative reforms by the State party. It welcomes the amendments to the Personal Status Code, which provide women with the capacity to institute legal proceedings in their own name, affirm the principle of equality and partnership between spouses, provide that both parties should cooperate in managing family affairs, prevent manipulation of divorce proceedings by the husband, allow spouses to agree to a joint property regime and grant women the right to give their family name to a child born of an unknown father and the opportunity for gene-testing to prove parenthood. The Committee also welcomes the reform of the Penal Code, which imposes heavy penalties for the killing of a woman for adultery.

185.The Committee commends the reforms to the nationality law introduced by the State party in working towards harmonizing the law with article 9 of the Convention.

186.The Committee commends the State party for its progressive development of the national machinery and the reconstitution of the Ministry for Women and Family Affairs as a full Ministry in 1999. The Committee notes with appreciation that the Ministry’s budget has doubled since 1994. The Committee further commends the efforts of the State party to consolidate the status of Tunisian women through the establishment of the commission for monitoring the image of women in the media and a national commission for the promotion of rural women.

187.The Committee notes with appreciation the progress made in increasing the enrolment and retention of girls in schools at all levels, including in higher education, the diversification in their areas of study, and reduction of female illiteracy. The Committee commends the measures taken to improve women’s health, including through the provision of reproductive health services and reduction of maternal and child mortality rates. The Committee also notes that rural women are enjoying an overall improvement in the quality of rural life due to a combination of regional development and overall sectoral policies, and that these women are benefiting from technical and financial support through the efforts of the economic and financial authorities in Tunisia.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

188.While appreciating the progress made towards creating an environment for withdrawal of the reservations to articles 9, paragraph 2; 15, paragraph 4; and 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d), (f), (g) and (h), through legal reforms, the Committee expresses its concern that these reservations continue to be retained.

189. The Committee urges the State party to expedite the steps necessary for the withdrawal of its reservations.

190.While welcoming the legislative reforms introduced by the State party aimed at eliminating discrimination against women, the Committee is concerned about the remaining discriminatory provisions, especially in the nationality law and the Personal Status Code.

191. The Committee urges the State party to continue the process of legislative reform and review relevant existing laws in consultation with women’s groups.

192.The Committee expresses concern that, although the Constitution provides for the equality of all citizens and the 1997 amendment to the Constitution introduced the concept of non-discrimination with regard to political parties, the Constitution does not contain a specific definition prohibiting discrimination against women and there is no definition of such discrimination in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, which prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination. The Committee is concerned at the lack of legal remedies to ensure that the Constitutional provision on equality is enforced or court decisions in which women have obtained redress for acts of discrimination.

193. The Committee urges the State party to include the definition of discrimination against women in accordance with article 1 of the Convention in its national law and to ensure adequate mechanisms to enable women to seek and obtain redress from the courts for violation of the rights protected by the Convention and the Constitution, with appropriate remedies. The Committee recommends the intensification of education and training programmes on the Convention to enhance the knowledge of judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel. The Committee invites the State party to provide, in its next report, information about complaints filed in courts based on the Convention, as well as any court decisions that refer to the Convention.

194.The Committee is concerned that there is a lack of systematic data collection on violence against women, including domestic violence, violence against women in detention centres and prisons, and sexual harassment in the workplace and in other institutions. The Committee is concerned that no specific legislation has been enacted to combat domestic violence and sexual harassment. The Committee is concerned that article 218 of the Penal Code provides that the withdrawal of a case by a victim terminates any proceeding.

195. The Committee recommends that the State party devise a structure for systematic data collection on all such forms of violence against women. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that all violence against women is prosecuted and punished and that women victims of violence have immediate means of protection and redress. In the light of its general recommendation 19, the Committee requests the State party to enact specific legislation on domestic violence, including marital rape and sexual harassment. It recommends that the number of shelters for women victims of violence be increased and that full sensitization of public officials, especially law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health-care providers and social workers, to all forms of violence against women is ensured. The Committee calls upon the State party to create public awareness of violence against women as an infringement of human rights that has grave social costs for the whole community.

196.The Committee is concerned at the limited information on trafficking in women and girls and exploitation of prostitution. The Committee notes with concern that, although prostitution is legally prohibited, there are authorized places for it.

197. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next report information and data on, and the measures taken to prevent and combat, trafficking in women and girls and exploitation of prostitution, as well as the measures taken to protect, rehabilitate and reintegrate women and girls who have been victims.

198.While noting the measures taken to increase women’s political participation, the Committee is concerned about the low representation of women in high-level decision-making positions, including as members of the Chamber of Deputies, in government positions, in the central council and executive committee of the Tunisian Union for Agriculture and Fisheries, as high-ranking diplomats and as full professors in the universities.

199. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to increase the representation of women in high-level decision-making positions through, inter alia, the implementation of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention in order to realize women’s right to participate in all areas of public life and, particularly, at high levels of decision-making.

200.The Committee is concerned at the low level of women’s labour force participation and at the lack of information regarding its causes. The Committee welcomes Act No. 83-112, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex with regard to public entities, but is concerned that such legislation does not extend to the private sector. The Committee notes the absence of statistical data on wages disaggregated by sex and on pensions and social rights.

201. The Committee urges the State party to adopt appropriate measures to ensure women’s equal access to paid employment. The Committee also urges the State party to adopt and enforce appropriate legislation to ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the public and private sectors of the labour market, and to prevent direct and indirect discrimination in employment. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next report sex-disaggregated data on wages, pensions and social rights.

202.While noting the reduction in the general illiteracy rate of women, the Committee is concerned that the rate is still high among certain groups of women, particularly rural women and older women.

203. The Committee encourages the State party to further implement programmes specifically designed to reduce female illiteracy, particularly among rural and older women.

204.The Committee is concerned about the situation of single women with children born out of wedlock and the limited information thereon.

205. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next report information on the situation of single women with children born out of wedlock, including the measures taken to ensure that their rights are protected.

206. The Committee urges the State party to accept the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

207. The Committee also urges the State party to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

208. 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

209. 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. It also requests that the report address the general recommendations of the Committee and provide information on the impact of legislation, policies and programmes to implement the Convention.

210. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Tunisia of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Tunisia, and particularly government administrators and politicians, 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 results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century”.

Zambia

211.The Committee considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Zambia (CEDAW/C/ZAM/3-4) at its 551st and 552nd meetings, on 4 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.551 and 552).

Introduction by the State party

212.In introducing the report, the representative of Zambia stated that her Government had demonstrated its political will and commitment to eradicating discrimination against women, had acceded to or ratified international treaties that guaranteed human rights without distinction based on sex or other grounds and had joined the international community in endorsing several plans of action for the full, equal and beneficial integration of women in all development activities.

213.Like most Commonwealth countries, Zambia had a legal regime wherein international instruments were not self-executing and required enabling domestic legislation to be directly enforceable. Although the Convention had not been fully incorporated through such legislation, there were certain provisions in Zambian law that reflected the Convention’s standards. A priority for Zambia was the incorporation of the international human rights instruments to which it was a party.

214.Acts that caused physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women and children were condemned in the Zambian Constitution, Part III, which bestows upon all persons in Zambia regardless of race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed, sex or marital status, the rights and freedom enshrined therein.

215.Fifty point seven per cent of Zambia’s population of 10.3 million were women, and according to the Zambia demographic health survey (1996), fertility rates, although declining, were still high at 6.1 children per woman, with the majority of women becoming mothers or pregnant by 19 years of age. As of 1995, life expectancy was 43 years for women and 41 years for men. The Zambian population is young with 45 per cent being 15 years or younger.

216.Certain centuries-old discriminatory customary laws and practices were still prevalent in Zambia, and the arbitrary administration of customary law had been identified as a major hindrance to the elimination of discrimination against women. The disparity between women and men was a consequence of historical and cultural factors that contributed to a division of labour where men were encouraged to participate in production, and women to work in the traditional sector. The Government, civil society and non-governmental organizations were cooperating to sensitize women, men, girls and boys about their rights and the course of action to be taken in discrimination cases. A Technical Committee to Review Laws, Enforcement Mechanisms and Support Systems relating to gender-based violence had recommended that customary law that was not contrary to natural justice should be codified, and a law development commission was documenting the diverse customary laws and practices with a view to eliminating those that were repugnant to gender equality. Steps were also being taken to eliminate stereotyping in school textbooks, introduce gender training for curriculum development officers, and encourage girls to enrol in technical courses.

217.Women’s equal participation in public life had been one of Zambia’s priority areas, as women were underrepresented at all levels of decision-making in Government, parliament, political parties, the private sector, special public service committees and other institutions. Women constituted over 53 per cent of the electorate; yet, less than 12 per cent of elected officials were women, and women constituted less than 10 per cent of senior government officials. In 1997, the Government had signed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declaration on Gender and Development that committed Governments to ensure that there was at least 30 per cent participation of women in politics and decision-making by 2005. In the 2001 general elections, 19 out of 202 women candidates had been elected to parliament, with civil society playing a vital role in encouraging women to participate in the electoral process as voters and candidates. The Government had adopted a public service training policy which contained affirmative action measures to train women employed in the civil service so that they would qualify for higher positions.

218.Twenty-five per cent of government university scholarships were reserved for women who qualified for university entrance; and lower cut-off marks for girls at eighth and tenth grades had been introduced. All-boy technical schools had been transformed into co-educational schools; and a policy of readmitting girls to school following childbirth had been introduced.

219.Zambia had ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on equal pay for work of equal value and had repealed laws that banned women from certain types of work. However, women continued to encounter difficulties in gaining access to training and employment and the Government was currently giving those matters active and special attention.

220.Women’s reproductive health, particularly in the rural areas, remained an area of concern. The Zambia demographic and health survey had estimated the maternal mortality rate at 649 deaths per 100,000 live births and a 1995 study by the University Central Hospital indicated that 75 per cent of maternal deaths occurred among teenage mothers. Traditional birth attendants were being trained to supplement the efforts of medical personnel, especially in rural areas, and family life education to educate girls and boys about, inter alia, the dangers and prevention of HIV/AIDS, as well as youth-friendly areas in all health centres and provision of counselling and testing in maternal and child health and family planning clinics had been introduced.

221.Although rural women were involved in subsistence agriculture, unpaid domestic work and casual or seasonal labour, they were classified as housewives, unemployed or economically inactive. The unreliable or non-existent road infrastructure in most rural areas made it more difficult for subsistence farmers, particularly women, to market their produce. That was compounded by women’s lack of collateral, limited education, lack of access to credit and other means of production.

222.Family relations were governed by a dual legal system of statutory and customary laws, with customary law being largely biased against women. Customary laws were unwritten and administered in male-dominated local courts mainly presided over by untrained justices with patriarchal attitudes. The Government intended to ensure that women and men were treated equally in marriage and family matters and were given the right to decide freely whether or when to have a child.

223.Zambia’s Constitution and Citizenship Act had been amended in 1989 to remove the discriminatory provision that stipulated that a foreign spouse of a Zambian man could apply for citizenship after three years of residence in Zambia, while the foreign spouse of a Zambian woman required 10 years of residence. The requirement that women obtain the written consent of their husbands before their children were included in their passports had been abolished.

224.In concluding, the representative indicated that implementation of the Convention had been affected by embedded traditional beliefs, a lack of appreciation of gender issues and concerns, and limited financial and human resources. Limited collaboration between the Government and civil society had also had a negative impact. The Government of Zambia would seek to facilitate further change and considered collaboration with civil society as a key element in ensuring that women were not discriminated against in government endeavours to attain sustainable development.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

225.The Committee commends the State party on its combined third and fourth periodic report, which is in accordance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of reports. It also commends the State party for the comprehensive and frank written replies to the questions posed by the Committee’s pre-session working group and for the oral presentation of the delegation, which sought to clarify the current situation of the implementation of the Convention in Zambia.

226.The Committee commends the State party for its delegation and appreciates the delegation’s willingness to engage in frank and constructive dialogue with the Committee.

Positive aspects

227.The Committee welcomes efforts to strengthen the national machinery on women, the introduction of gender mainstreaming and the adoption of several policies and programmes to eliminate discrimination against women, including the National Gender Policy and the establishment of the Gender in Development Division, under the Office of the President.

228.The Committee commends the efforts made by the State party to review existing laws that discriminate against women. It also notes the enactment of the Marriage Act and the Intestate Succession Act, which provide protection for women in marriage and inheritance.

229.The Committee commends the introduction of the Programme for the Advancement of Girl Child Education, the reservation of 25 per cent of government scholarships exclusively for women who qualify for entry into universities and the lowering of cut-off points for girls to qualify for entry to grades 8 and 10 in schools in order to redress inequality in the education sector.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

230.The Committee expresses concern at the contradictory provisions contained in the Constitution whereby article 11 guarantees the equal status of women and article 23 (4) permits discriminatory laws to exist in the area of personal law, namely: revenue allocation, adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death, or other matters of personal law and customary law with respect to any matter.

231. The Committee urges the State party to repeal article 23 (4) of the Constitution, which permits discrimination in the area of law that most affects women.

232.The Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been directly incorporated into domestic law and its provisions cannot be invoked before the courts.

233. The Committee recommends that the State party incorporate the Convention into domestic law.

234.The Committee is concerned that the provisions in existing laws, including new laws such as the Marriage Act and the Employment Act, discriminate against women directly or indirectly.

235. The Committee calls upon the State party to review and reform its legislation to ensure that it is in harmony with the Convention.

236.The Committee is concerned that existing constitutional and other legal rights of women to redress discrimination are not being properly implemented or enforced.

237. The Committee calls upon the State party to strengthen law enforcement and to provide effective remedies through the courts for women who experience discrimination. The Committee requests the State party to develop training programmes on women’s human rights for judges and law enforcement officers and to disseminate information to the public, especially women.

238.The Committee expresses concern at the high level of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence and marital rape. It also expresses serious concern about the number of older women who have been murdered for superstitious reasons by family members or by others in Zambia in recent years.

239. The Committee urges the State party to assign the issue of violence against women high priority and to recognize that such violence constitutes a violation of the human rights of women under the Convention. In the light of its general recommendation 19, the Committee requests the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence as soon as possible and to ensure that violence against women and girls constitutes a criminal offence and that female victims of violence have immediate means of redress and protection. The Committee also recommends gender training for all public officials, in particular law enforcement officials and the judiciary, as well as health workers, to educate them about the consequences of all forms of violence against women and girls. It also recommends the establishment of counselling services for the victims and public awareness campaigns in order to adopt and implement a zero tolerance policy with regard to all forms of violence against women and girls. The Committee requests the State party to report fully in its fifth periodic report on the issue of violence against women and girls.

240.While welcoming the State party’s commitment to achieving 30 per cent participation by women in politics by 2005, the Committee notes with concern that the participation of women in political and public life is limited, and that women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making in Government, parliament, political parties, the private sector, special public service committees and other institutions in the community.

241. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to increase the number of women in decision-making positions at all levels and in all areas. It also recommends that the State party introduce temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, to strengthen its efforts to promote 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.

242.While noting that the State party has made progress in addressing the basic health needs of women in Zambia, the Committee expresses concern at the high level of maternal and infant mortality, low life expectancy, very high teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions and lack of adequate health-care facilities and family planning services, particularly in the rural areas.

243. The Committee recommends that the State party formulate polices and allocate adequate resources to improve the status of women’s health, in particular with regard to maternal and infant mortality. It urges the State party to increase women’s access to healthcare and family planning services. It also recommends that national reproductive health programmes be designed and implemented in order to prevent early pregnancy and induced abortions in the rural and urban areas.

244.The Committee expresses concern at the increasing rate of HIV/AIDS and the absence of measures for the care of women and girls infected with HIV/AIDS.

245.The Committee urges the State party to take holistic measures to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to take further practical preventive measures, including by providing access to condoms for women and men. It also urges the State party to ensure that women and girls infected with HIV/AIDS are not discriminated against and are given appropriate assistance. The Committee also emphasizes that the collection of reliable data on HIV/AIDS is critical to gaining an understanding of the pandemic.

246.Despite the State party’s effort in the area of education, the Committee is concerned at the low rate of female literacy, the low enrolment of girls in school in rural and urban areas and the high dropout rate of girls due to pregnancies. These negative factors are reinforced by stereotyping in textbooks. It notes that education is a key to the advancement of women and that the low level of education of women and girls remains one of the most serious impediments to their full enjoyment of human rights.

247. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen its efforts to improve the literacy level of girls and women in rural and urban areas, to ensure equal access of girls and young women to all levels of education and to prevent girls dropping out of school. It encourages the State party to introduce further special measures in the area of education, including incentives for parents to send girls to school and to encourage the recruitment of more qualified women teachers.

248.The Committee expresses concern at the high rate of unemployment among women. It also expresses concern at disparities between women’s and men’s wages, sexual harassment, and the lack of social security for women.

249. The Committee urges the State party to introduce temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention in creating employment opportunities for women. Efforts should be made to expand the community-based public workers programme into areas where the number of unemployed women is particularly high. The Committee calls on the State party to review its legislation and policy in the employment sector to facilitate full implementation of article 11 of the Convention.

250.The Committee expresses concern that marriage and family relations are governed by dual legal systems of statutory and customary law, and that many of these laws are not in harmony with the Convention. It also notes that customary law is mostly unwritten and often administered by male justices without a legal background, and that discrimination against women is not addressed in their decisions.

251. The Committee recommends that statutory law be reformed and customary law revised and codified to conform with article 16 of the Convention. It also recommends the introduction of programmes on legal education, gender sensitization and human rights for judges.

252.The Committee is concerned that polygamy is widely accepted and not effectively combated by the State party.

253. The Committee recommends that the State party take comprehensive and effective measures, including training for judicial and law enforcement officials and public awareness-raising campaigns, in order to eliminate the practice of polygamy.

254.The Committee is concerned that aspects of the law on nationality as described in the report continue to discriminate against female spouses.

255. The Committee recommends that these laws be amended in conformity with article 9 of the Convention, and that court decisions recognizing women’s equal rights be enforced.

256.While the Committee commends the State party’s efforts to host refugees from neighbouring countries, it is concerned at the State party’s capacity to protect and guarantee the rights of refugees.

257. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to give assistance to refugee women and girls, and carry out rehabilitative efforts directed at them. The Committee also recommends that the State party seek further support from, and continue to work in close cooperation with, appropriate international agencies in the field of refugee protection, in particular, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

258. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the unanswered questions raised during constructive dialogue with the Committee and to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention. It also urges the State party to improve the collection and analysis of statistical data, disaggregated by sex, and to submit such data to the Committee in its next report.

259. The Committee urges the State party to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention, and to deposit as soon as possible its instrument of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

260. 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

261. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Zambia of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Zambia, particularly members of non-governmental organizations, administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women and the further steps required in this regard. It 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, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century” and the Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

4.Combined fourth and fifth periodic report

Ukraine

262.The Committee considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Ukraine (CEDAW/C/UKR/4-5 and Corr.1) at its 555th and 556th meetings, on 6 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.555 and 556).

Introduction by the State party

263.In introducing the report, the representative of Ukraine informed the Committee that although Ukraine was a young State, formed only in 1991 when it seceded from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, during its first decade an important democratic structure had been developed, which constituted the basis for the promotion of gender equality. In 1996, Ukraine adopted a constitution that embodied the principle of the equal rights of men and women, based on the view that all people were equal in their dignity.

264.The representative informed the Committee that a Ministry of Family and Youth had been established in 1996 to implement the State policy on the family, women, young people and children. The Ministry had prepared legislation to comply with general human rights standards. In 1997, a National Plan of Action for the years 1997-2000 was launched by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, aimed at improving the situation of women and expanding their role in society. In 1999, the Verhova Rada (Parliament) adopted a declaration on general principles of State policy concerning the family and women, which provided for the enhancement of women’s role in the economic, political, social, cultural and spiritual life of the country. In 2001, a family code on the equal rights and duties of women and men vis-à-vis family matters was endorsed, and a new National Plan of Action for the years 2001-2005 was adopted.

265.The representative informed the Committee of the increase in the number and impact of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and women’s groups in Ukraine over the last five years. During this period, the number of national and international NGOs had increased threefold and, to strengthen the links between the Government and NGOs, the National Council of Women of Ukraine had been created. The women’s movement had become very active, particularly regarding activities related to education on gender issues to combat social and cultural stereotypes. The representative pointed out, however, that difficulties had been encountered in eliminating stereotypes and ensuring gender equality at a time when Ukraine was experiencing serious economic problems resulting from the transition from a State- controlled to a free market economy.

266.The representative informed the Committee of the situation of women in the fields of education, employment and health. She noted that women and men had equal access to education, as guaranteed by the Constitution. During 2000-2001, girls constituted 49 per cent of pupils in schools and over half of the students in higher education; in addition, 48 per cent of students seeking doctorates were women. However, despite women’s high qualifications, the job market continued to be segregated. Women were mainly employed in the education, health, culture and service sectors, where salaries were lower. Overall, women’s salaries were 73 per cent of those of men’s. The Government was trying to remedy the horizontal segregation of the labour market through its National Plan of Action, with mandatory social insurance for the unemployed. Measures had been taken to provide allowances to facilitate job creation, while jobs had been set aside to assist sectors of the population that needed special protection, including women with children below six years of age or single mothers with children below 14 years of age. The representative informed the Committee that the Constitution provided for free health assistance as well as for measures to assist pregnant women. She noted the remarkable improvement achieved in the rate of maternal mortality, which had dropped from 34 deaths per 100,000 women in 1996 to 25 deaths per 100,000 women in 2000. During the same period, the number of abortions had also declined by one third.

267.In the 2002 elections, the number of women in local government had risen by up to 50 per cent. However, the number of women in Parliament remained low, at 5.1 per cent, while in the central organ of the executive branch, women occupied only 6 per cent of high-level posts. Political life remained largely male-dominated. Women were excluded from the centres of power and did not participate in the decision-making processes of resource allocation and management. In order to guarantee equal opportunities for women and men in political life, in 1999, a bill on State guarantees of equal rights and opportunities was proposed, which was to be considered for adoption by the new Parliament.

268.The representative informed the Committee that the Government was paying serious attention to the issue of violence against women, including domestic violence, sexual exploitation and sexual harassment. In 2001, the Act on the Prevention of Domestic Violence had been adopted. In addition, crisis centres and shelters had been set up for the social rehabilitation of women and children victims of violence. In order to combat trafficking in women and children, the Government had acceded to various international conventions to prevent trafficking and, in May 2002, had adopted a comprehensive programme against trafficking for the years 2002-2005, focused on three areas: prevention of trade in persons; prosecution; and rehabilitation.

269.Measures had been taken by Ukraine to maintain peace among the 130 nationalities coexisting in the State. Ethnic groups were protected by legal and normative instruments, including the Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, ratified in 1997.

270.In concluding, the representative noted that Ukraine had made steady progress towards achieving gender equality and advancing the status of women, particularly since 1996 when the Committee considered Ukraine’s third periodic report and made valuable recommendations that had helped to create the conditions for women’s empowerment. In order to accelerate progress on promoting gender equality, however, Ukraine would need to mobilize national resources. The representative also acknowledged the importance of the support provided by international organizations, including the United Nations system, for the promotion of equality between women and men in Ukraine.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

271.The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for submitting its combined fourth and fifth periodic report, which generally follows the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for the written replies to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and the State party’s oral presentation, which provided additional information on the current situation of the implementation of the Convention in Ukraine. The Committee commends the State party on its delegation, headed by the Head of the State Committee for Family and Youth Affairs.

272.The Committee notes that governmental action, in particular the National Plan of Action to improve the situation of women, is placed within the context of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Positive aspects

273.The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Convention is incorporated into Ukrainian law and has precedence over conflicting national legislation.

274.The Committee welcomes the range of laws and programmes that have been introduced, including the law on the prevention of domestic violence, the criminal law that makes trafficking in persons a criminal offence and the new family code, as well as other efforts undertaken to improve the situation of women and promote gender equality, such as the elaboration of a draft law on equal opportunities.

275.The Committee expresses its satisfaction with the presence of an increasingly active civil society on women’s issues in Ukraine, including many women’s political parties. The Committee also commends the State party’s recognition of the important role of the large number of NGOs working on women’s issues.

276.The Committee notes with satisfaction the high level of women’s educational achievement and the increase in the number of women in local government in some regions.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

277.The Committee is concerned that there is still a lack of familiarity with the Convention and the opportunities for its application, including among the judiciary, law enforcement personnel and women themselves.

278. The Committee recommends the introduction of education and training programmes on the Convention, in particular for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel. It recommends that awareness-raising campaigns targeted at women be undertaken so that women can avail themselves of legal remedies for violations of their rights under the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to provide, in its next report, information about complaints filed in courts based on the Convention, as well as any court decisions that refer to the Convention.

279.The Committee is concerned at the apparent lack of understanding of discrimination against women as a multifaceted phenomenon that entails indirect and unintentional as well as direct and intentional discrimination. This understanding is a prerequisite for the effective elimination of both de jure and de facto discrimination against women.

280. The Committee recommends that policies and efforts be directed at countering both direct and indirect discrimination against women.

281.The Committee expresses concern that, although the Convention is incorporated in domestic law and the Constitution provides for the equality of all citizens, Ukrainian law does not contain a specific definition of discrimination against women and does not provide effective enforcement procedures or remedies. The Committee is concerned that it did not receive sufficient information regarding the content of the draft law on equal opportunities.

282. The Committee recommends that the State party include in its legislation a definition of discrimination, enforcement procedures and remedies for violations of women’s rights under the Convention. It also recommends the inclusion of a provision allowing the adoption of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

283.The Committee expresses its concern that the national machinery for the advancement of women does not have sufficient power and visibility or financial and human resources to effectively promote the advancement of women and gender equality.

284. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen the existing national machinery in order to make it more effective by providing it with adequate human and financial resources at all levels and enhancing coordination among the existing mechanisms for the advancement of women and the promotion of gender equality.

285.While recognizing that the number of women elected to office in local government has increased in some regions, the Committee is concerned about the low representation of women in high-level elected and appointed bodies, including as members of Parliament, of which only 5 per cent are women, as high-ranking officials within the executive branch, where women occupy only 6 per cent of posts, and within the state administrations and civil and diplomatic service.

286. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to increase the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies through, inter alia, the implementation of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, in order to realize women’s right to participation in all areas of public life and, particularly, at high levels of decision-making. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts in offering or supporting training programmes for current and future women leaders and carry out awareness-raising campaigns regarding the importance of women’s participation in political decision-making.

287.Recognizing the efforts made by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in women and girls, including the criminal law provision against trafficking in persons, the Committee notes with concern that the extent of this problem is not reflected in the information provided in the report. It notes with concern that there is still not enough information on the subject or a comprehensive policy to address the problem.

288. The Committee urges the State party to make the issue of trafficking in women and girls a high priority and to include in its next report comprehensive information and data on the issue and on progress made in this area. It recommends the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking in women and girls, including within the territory of the State party, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders and increased international, regional and bilateral cooperation with other countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls. It recommends the introduction of measures aimed at improving the economic situation of women so as to eliminate their vulnerability to traffickers, education initiatives for vulnerable groups, including teenage girls, as well as social support, rehabilitation and reintegration measures for women and girls who have been victims of trafficking. It calls on the State party to ensure that trafficked women and girls have the support they need so that they can provide testimony against their traffickers. It urges that training of border police and law enforcement officials provide them with the requisite skills to recognize and provide support to victims of trafficking.

289.The Committee expresses its concern about the status of women’s health, especially their reproductive health. The Committee is concerned about the high number of abortions and the fact that the maternal and child mortality rates remain high. It is also concerned about the undernutrition of women, as well as iodine deficiency and other diseases among women. The Committee is concerned about the insufficiency of attention to tobacco addiction and alcoholism among women.

290. The Committee draws attention to its general recommendation No. 24 on women and health and recommends comprehensive research into the specific health needs of women, including their reproductive health, the full implementation of a life-cycle approach to women’s health, the financial and organizational strengthening of family planning programmes and the provision of wide access to contraceptives for all women and men. The Committee urges the State party to reinforce programmes of sexual and reproductive education for both girls and boys in order to foster responsible sexual behaviour and further discourage abortion as a means of birth control. The Committee requests more information on the prevalence of, and measures taken against, alcoholism and tobacco consumption among women.

291.While welcoming the measures taken to combat violence against women, including the adoption of the law on the prevention of domestic violence, the inclusion of the issue under the National Plan of Action, and the fact that marital rape can be prosecuted under the Criminal Code of Ukraine, the Committee is concerned about the prevalence of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence.

292. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on comprehensive measures to address violence against women in the family and in society. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that such violence is prosecuted and punished with the required seriousness and speed, and that women victims of violence have immediate means of redress and protection. It recommends that measures be taken to provide shelters for women victims of violence and to 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. The Committee invites the State party to undertake awareness-raising measures, including a campaign of zero tolerance, to make such violence socially and morally unacceptable.

293.While noting with appreciation the high level of education among women, the Committee expresses its concern about the situation of women in the labour market, including the high rate of unemployment among women and the strong occupational segregation with a concomitant wage differential. The Committee is concerned that women are not able to receive adequate retraining to compete in the market. It is further concerned that the State party’s protective labour laws restricting women’s participation in night work and other areas, may create obstacles to women’s participation in the labour market.

294. The Committee urges the State party to ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market, including through the use of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the State party design and implement special training and retraining programmes for different groups of unemployed women. It also recommends that efforts be made to eliminate occupational segregation, including through education, training and retraining. There should be additional wage increases in female-dominated sectors of public employment to close the wage gap between these and male-dominated sectors. The Committee recommends that the State party conduct regular reviews of legislation in accordance with article 11, paragraph 3, of the Convention, with a view to reducing the number of barriers that women face in the labour market. It also recommends that effective measures allowing for the reconciliation between family and professional responsibilities be strengthened and that the sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men be promoted.

295.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of traditional stereotypes regarding the role of men and women in the family and in society at large.

296. The Committee urges the State party to design and implement comprehensive programmes in the educational system and to encourage the mass media to promote cultural changes with regard to the roles and tasks attributed to women and men, as required by article 5 of the Convention. It recommends that policies be developed and programmes implemented to ensure the eradication of traditional sex role stereotypes in the family, in employment, in politics and in society.

297. The Committee urges the State party to accept the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

298. The Committee also urges the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

299. 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

300. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report to be submitted under article 18 of the Convention. It also requests that the report address the general recommendations of the Committee and provide information on the impact of legislation, policies and programmes to implement the Convention.

301. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Ukraine of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Ukraine, in particular government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women and the further steps required in this regard. It also 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 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

5.Fourth and fifth periodic reports

Denmark

302.The Committee considered the fourth and the fifth periodic reports of Denmark (CEDAW/C/DEN/4 and CEDAW/C/DEN/5 and Add.1 and Corr.1) at its 561st and 562nd meetings, on 12 June 2002 (CEDAW/C/SR.561 and 562).

Introduction by the State party

303.In introducing the report, the representative of Denmark informed the Committee that non-governmental organizations had had the opportunity to comment on implementation of the Convention in Denmark. The Government had been implementing the actions identified in the Beijing Platform for Action, which had had a significant impact on Denmark’s gender equality policy. Increasing emphasis had been placed on violence against women, trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, unemployment among women and sex segregation in the labour market, since the consideration of Denmark’s last periodic report by the Committee.

304.A new law on gender equality had been introduced and there had been a change in the national machinery for the advancement of women since the submission, in 2000, of the fifth periodic report. The former Council for Gender Equality had been replaced by a new three-part structure comprising a Minister for Gender Equality, a Knowledge Centre for Gender Equality and a Gender Equality Board. The Knowledge Centre will be closed down in July 2002 as a State-funded organization. It will continue as a private foundation connected to the University of Roskilde. The Gender Equality Act May 2000 stated that the work to promote gender equality in Denmark consists of a two-pronged strategy, gender mainstreaming and affirmative actions/specific priorities. The Minister for Gender Equality presents an annual Report and an Action Plan to the Parliament on the concrete specific priorities. A Steering Committee has, on behalf of the Minister, prepared a five-year action plan on gender mainstreaming.

305.Gender mainstreaming and the integration of women’s rights were critical elements in Denmark’s development assistance strategy, in which special attention was paid to women living in poverty; women’s rights, including the right to own and inherit land; violence against women, including trafficking; the access of women and girls to health and education; and women’s access to financial services, business development assistance and trade opportunities.

306.The representative described the goal of Denmark’s gender equality policy as ensuring that women and men were equal partners and were given equal possibilities to choose how they want to live their lives. Women made up 44 per cent of the newly elected committees. The share of women in Parliament was 38 per cent. Labour market participation of women was high at 75 per cent, and women had, on average, 1.7 children, indicating that work could be combined with family life. Factors contributing to that were the existence of many public care facilities for the young, the elderly and other dependants and the fact that young men were increasingly taking on their share of family responsibilities. The Government had expanded parental leave schemes, increased parental grants for childcare in the home and guaranteed day care. Access to part-time work had also been expanded. Areas of concern included the pay gap between women and men and sex-segregation in the labour market. Only 41 per cent of women from ethnic minorities were active in the labour market, but the Government was making special efforts to address that issue.

307.The elimination of violence against women was a priority, and a three-year action plan with a special focus on women from ethnic minorities, women with disabilities and children had recently been presented by the Government. Efforts to eliminate trafficking in women and children had been intensified. To combat forced marriages, funds had been given to NGOs to ensure assistance to young people from ethnic minorities while the age for family reunification of spouses had, for all citizens, been raised from 18 to 24 years.

308.Another representative indicated that, in 2002, in Greenland, legislation focusing on equal treatment of women and men with respect to public services and employment had replaced older Danish and pre-Home Rule legislation. The Equal Status Council, which had been established in 1998, had provided input during the development of the new legislation and had commissioned a survey on gender equality in the household, workplace and other areas of public life. It had also appointed, as part of a pilot project, gender equality ambassadors to liaise between the Equal Status Council and the public in five municipalities. An action plan on gender and violence was also being produced under the auspices of the West Nordic Council, with the participation of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Greenland Home Rule Government was sensitive to the importance of ensuring that family and working life were balanced, and legislation had been passed on maternity leave and pay for mothers and fathers in order to give both parents an opportunity to spend time with their infant children. The representation of women in the Government and the municipalities was high at 67 per cent, and they dominated the health, education and social affairs sectors. Six of the 12 Deputy Ministers, and 19 per cent of members of Parliament were women. Education and capacity-building were regarded as crucial to ensuring equal opportunities in the labour market, and data showed that the majority of those commencing education or training programmes were women and that the dropout rate of women was lower than that of men.

309.Another representative indicated that there were very few legislative obstacles to women’s enjoyment of equal rights under Faroese Law. In 1994, the Faroese Parliament had enacted the Act of Equality between Men and Women, which sought to ensure gender equality in the labour market, education, all public committees, councils and boards. In 2002, the Act on Maternity Leave providing fully paid maternity leave for 28 weeks had been passed. The Government was seeking to increase the period of maternity leave to 52 weeks. In the Faroe Islands, the number of women in Parliament was low, as was the representation of women in decision-making positions in the private sector. Where gender-based violence was concerned, a domestic violence crisis centre had been established by a non-governmental organization.

310.Each representative expressed commitment to the implementation of the Convention in all parts of Denmark, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and assured the Committee that there would be a national follow-up and debate on its concluding comments.

Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

311.The Committee expresses appreciation to the State party for its fourth and fifth periodic reports, which comply with the guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for its interaction with non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the reports and is pleased that the comments of non-governmental organizations on the implementation of the Convention were again included as annexes to the report. The Committee also expresses its appreciation for the information given in response to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and during the oral presentation.

312.The Committee expresses appreciation for the inclusion of representatives from the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the delegation.

Positive aspects

313.The Committee commends the State party for its efforts to strengthen the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights in Denmark through a wide range of laws, policies and programmes within the context of the provisions of the Convention and the Beijing Platform for Action. It also commends the realization of de jure equality of women and men in many areas of the Convention, especially with regard to economic and social benefits and marriage and family life.

314.The Committee commends the State party for appointing a Minister for Gender Equality, thereby making gender equality policy a part of the Government’s politics and affording a greater potential to directly influence the political decision-making process, and for establishing the Gender Equality Board, comprising a judge and two lawyers with expertise in the areas of gender equality and labour market conditions, respectively, that handles complaints about gender-based discrimination in the labour market, the education, health, social and finance sectors, and in private enterprises.

315.The Committee commends the State party for its efforts to incorporate gender mainstreaming into its overall policy framework, including by formulating an action plan for 2002-2006 for the Danish inter-ministerial gender mainstreaming project with a steering committee comprised of representatives from all ministries, while at the same time implementing women-specific programmes to encourage gender equality.

316.The Committee welcomes the action plan to stop violence against women, which seeks to give victims the support they need, provide training for professionals and establish multidisciplinary cooperation, break the cycle of violence through corrective treatment of offenders and improve prevention through gathering data on the causes and scope of violence against women.

317.The Committee welcomes the State party’s cooperation with the other Nordic and Baltic countries in two working groups under the Nordic Council of Ministers with regard to trafficking in women. The Committee commends the State party for signing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and its Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. The Committee notes that the Parliament has given its consent to ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

318.The Committee also commends the State party for having accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention and for having ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Committee also welcomes the fact that a number of recommendations in its concluding comments, adopted when Denmark last reported, have been implemented.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

319.The Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic legislation. It notes that the Committee on Incorporation of Human Rights Conventions into Danish Legislation, appointed by the Minister of Justice in 1999 to examine the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating the general human rights treaties into Danish legislation, on completing its work in October 2001, recommended that the Convention, despite being considered central to the protection of human rights, should not be incorporated into Danish legislation. The Committee also notes that the Constitution does not contain a specific provision on discrimination against women.

320. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to incorporate the Convention into domestic law, when considering the recommendations of the Committee on incorporation of human rights conventions into Danish legislation. The Committee requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report, including whether the Convention has been invoked before domestic courts.

321.While noting that the State party’s gender policy appears to be formulated primarily in the framework of the Beijing Platform for Action and European Union provisions, the Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been given central importance as a binding human rights instrument and basis for elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the advancement of women.

322. The Committee urges the State party to place emphasis on the Convention as a binding human rights instrument, and to view the Platform for Action as a complementary policy document to the Convention in its efforts to achieve the goals of equality. It furthermore urges the State party to take proactive measures to raise awareness about the Convention.

323.The Committee is concerned at the closure of the Danish Board for Ethnic Equality, which had been established in June 1997, inter alia, to provide advice on the question of discrimination and ethnic equality for the Danish Parliament, the Government, the central and local administration and private organizations, and the Danish National Centre for Research and Information on Gender Equality, which had been established in May 2000 under the Act on Gender Equality. The Committee notes that some of the work of the former Centre will be done without State funding under different institutional arrangements.

324. The Committee recommends that the State party reconsider its decision to close these two institutions and continue, in all circumstances, to earmark funds for their activities if those will be undertaken under other institutional arrangements, to enable them to continue their independent contribution to the achievement of gender equality in the State party.

325.While noting the creation of an equal pay network for companies interested in exchanging experience on the reasons for the gender-based division of labour, the pay differential and methods of guaranteeing equal pay and that women’s participation in the labour market is at an impressive 75 per cent and their unemployment rate is low at 5.6 per cent, the Committee is concerned at the persistence of the wage gap between women and men.

326. The Committee urges the State party to develop policies and adopt proactive measures to accelerate the eradication of pay discrimination against women, including job evaluations, collection of data, further study of the underlying causes for the wage gap and provision of increased assistance for social partners in collective wage bargaining, in particular in determining wage structures in sectors dominated by women in order to address the gender segregation in the labour market. The Committee requests the State party to provide more information in the next periodic report on its efforts to eradicate the wage gap.

327.While commending the State party for having surpassed the critical 30 to 35 per cent threshold in terms of representation of women in decision-making in Parliament, the Committee expresses concern that women’s representation remains low in executive and decision-making positions in municipalities and counties as well as in the private economic sector.

328. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to increase the representation of women in decision-making positions in all sectors, including in the municipalities and counties as well as in the private economic sector. It recommends that the State party take steps to facilitate the options available to women in the private sector, inter alia, through the implementation of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, wherever possible. It also recommends that the State party improve the design of the temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and monitor their application.

329.Noting the high number of women in the lower ranks of the Foreign Service, the Committee nevertheless expresses concern about the low level of representation of women in the higher levels of the service, in particular in ambassadorial posts.

330. The Committee recommends that the State party introduce special temporary measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention to increase the representation of women at higher levels in the Foreign Service, particularly as ambassadors.

331.The Committee expresses concern that, despite the high achievement of women in tertiary education, there are distressingly few women professors in the universities. It also expresses concern at the apparent imbalance in the access of women academics, as compared with men academics, to research grants and other resources.

332. The Committee urges the State party to adopt policies to ensure that women professors are not discriminated against with regard to access to professorships and senior positions, resources and research grants so as to increase the number of women in senior positions in universities.

333.The Committee is concerned about persistence of stereotypical attitudes towards women, which threaten to undermine their rights and make them vulnerable to violence, including domestic violence.

334. The Committee calls upon the State party to take additional measures to eliminate stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including through awareness-raising and educational campaigns directed at both women and men and at the media. It also calls upon the State party to undertake an assessment of the impact of its measures in order to identify shortcomings and to adjust and improve these measures accordingly.

335.Noting that reliable statistical material will become available later in 2002, the Committee regrets the very limited available data and information with regard to the scope of violence against women, including domestic violence.

336. The Committee urges the State party to include in the statistical material, sex-disaggregated data and information on the nature and scope of violence against women, including within the family and any new forms of abuse, and to include this information in its next periodic report. The Committee also urges the State party to continue its efforts to implement and strengthen policies and programmes aimed at combating violence, with special attention given to migrant and minority women.

337.The Committee is concerned that Danish residents who arrange for female genital mutilation abroad are not liable to prosecution in Denmark unless female genital mutilation is a crime in the country in which it is performed.

338. The Committee urges the State party to penalize all Danish residents who arrange for female genital mutilation regardless of where it is performed in order to eliminate this harmful traditional practice.

339.While noting that the State party places priority on efforts to address the issue of trafficking in women through, inter alia, seminars, analysis and cooperation with the other Nordic and Baltic countries, the Committee expresses concern that despite these efforts trafficking in women and girls continues to exist.

340. The Committee requests that the State party report on any developments in this regard in its next periodic report, including whether there have been any prosecutions for trafficking in women and girls. The Committee also encourages action in Denmark and, through the State party, continued efforts within the European Union to combat trafficking in women, including measures to prevent trafficking, the collection of data, the provision of services for trafficked women and measures to penalize those who facilitate such trafficking.

341.The Committee is concerned that the Aliens Act, which although gender-neutral, indirectly discriminates against women.

342. The Committee recommends that the State party review the Aliens Act and revoke those provisions that are incompatible with the provisions of the Convention, particularly article 2, which prohibits direct and indirect discrimination.

343.The Committee expresses concern about the situation of migrant, refugee and minority women in Denmark, including discrimination in education and employment and at the gender-based discrimination and violence that they experience.

344. The Committee urges the State party to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination against migrant, refugee and minority women. It encourages the State party to be proactive in its measures to prevent discrimination against migrant, refugee and minority women, both within their communities and in society at large, to combat violence against them, and increase their awareness of the availability of social services and legal remedies.

345.The Committee regrets the introduction in new legislation of an increase in the age limit for spousal reunification from 18 years to 24 years of age in order to combat forced marriage.

346. The Committee urges the State party to consider revoking the increase in the age limit for family reunification with spouses, and to explore other ways of combating forced marriages.

347.The Committee is concerned that the situation of foreign married women with temporary residence permits who experience domestic violence will worsen when the amendment to the Aliens Act enters into force on 1 July 2002, which will increase the required number of years of residence from three to seven before a permanent residence permit may be obtained. The Committee is also concerned that these women’s fear of expulsion will be a deterrent to their seeking assistance or taking steps to seek separation or divorce.

348. The Committee recommends that revocation of temporary residence permits of foreign married women who experience domestic violence, and legislative changes on residency requirements should not be undertaken without a full assessment of the impact of such measures on these women.

349.The Committee is concerned that, under the amended Aliens Act, some women who do not have refugee status might be forcibly repatriated to where they had been subjected to rape and/or other atrocities and may face the threat of further persecution.

350. The Committee urges the State party to refrain from forcibly repatriating such women and to ensure that repatriation in these circumstances is voluntary.

351.While welcoming written material provided by the delegation during constructive dialogue, the Committee regrets that information in the report about the situation of women in the Faroe Islands and Greenland was very limited.

352. The Committee urges the State party to include detailed information on the implementation of all aspects of the Convention in the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the next periodic report.

353. 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. It also requests that future reports not make reference to previous reports but briefly summarize previously stated information.

354. Taking account of the gender dimension 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

355. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Denmark of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Denmark, in particular administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women and of the further steps that are required in this regard. It 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, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century”.

Chapter V

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

356.Article 12 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention provides that the Committee shall include in its annual report under article 21 of the Convention a summary of its activities under the Protocol.

357.The Working Group on the Optional Protocol established by the Committee at its twenty-fourth session met from 4 to 8 February 2002 and considered cooperation between the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with respect to communications; procedures established by the Division for the Advancement of Women relating to communications; and methods of work of the Working Group. The Working Group analysed decisions of other United Nations human rights treaty bodies on communications, as well as several cases decided by regional human rights courts. The Chairperson of the Working Group provided the Committee with the report of the Working Group (CEDAW/C/2002/II/CRP.4).

Action taken by the Committee on the report of the Working Group on the Optional Protocol

Cooperation between the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

358.The Committee recommended that any guidelines on the routing of correspondence between and among the various human rights procedures of the United Nations be developed in collaboration with the Division for the Advancement of Women. It recommended the development of systematic cooperation between the Division and the petitions team of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the nomination of a focal point for the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the Support Services Branch of OHCHR who would analyse summaries of communications prepared by the Branch from a gender perspective and whose views on such summaries would be entered into the communications database and brought to the attention of the relevant treaty body.

Processing of communications

359.The Committee recommended that the Division for the Advancement of Women provide the Working Group with a regular report on the nature and number of potential communications received, including manifestly ill-founded claims, and those which are not being pursued. The report should also contain information on the number of potential communications received directly by the Division or routed to it which are being summarized with a view to registration, and on the number of potential communications received by the Division but routed to other procedures, such as those serviced by OHCHR.

360.The Committee decided that, where sufficient prima facie information is received to establish a communication, the Division for the Advancement of Women should provide the Working Group with a summary. The Working Group would then decide whether the case should be registered.

Outreach and research

361.The Committee recommended that the Division for the Advancement of Women intensify its outreach activities with respect to the Convention and the Optional Protocol. It also recommended that the Division prepare background papers for the Committee on several provisions in the Optional Protocol: “same matter” and “under another procedure of international investigation or settlement” (Optional Protocol, article 4 (2) (a)); “the facts that are the subject of the communication occurred prior to the entry into force of the present Protocol (Optional Protocol, article 4 (2) (e)). The Committee also recommended the preparation of background papers on the accountability of States parties for the conduct of non-State actors; remedies recommended by human rights treaties and implementation of views by States parties (Optional Protocol, articles 7 (3), (4) and (5)).

Dates of the meeting of the Working Group on the Optional Protocol

362.The Committee decided that the Working Group on the Optional Protocol would meet from 5 to 9 February 2003. It also recommended that, whenever possible, the Working Group should meet in the week prior to the regular session of the Committee in order for the Working Group to provide the Committee with the results of its work in a timely manner and to preclude any delay in the consideration of communications.

Chapter VI

Ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee

363.The Committee considered agenda item 6, ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee at its 550th and 567th meetings, on 3 and 21 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.550 and SR.567).

364.In introducing the item, the Chief of the Women’s Rights Unit of the Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat drew attention to the report of the Secretariat (CEDAW/C/2002/II/4).

Action taken by the Committee under agenda item 6

Members of the pre-session working group for the twenty-ninth session

365.The Committee decided that the members of the pre-session working group for the twenty-ninth session and their alternates should be:

Members: Christine Kapalata (Africa)

Sjiamsiah Achmad (Asia)

Goran Melander (Europe)

Yolanda Ferrer Gomez (Latin America and the Caribbean)

Alternates:

Fatima Kwaku (Africa)

Heisoo Shin (Asia)

Regina Tavares da Silva (Europe)

Aida Gonzalez Martinez (Latin America and the Caribbean)

Dates of the twenty-eighth session and the pre-session working group for the twenty-ninth session

366.In conformity with the approved calendar of conferences and meetingsfor 2003, the twenty-eighth session of the Committee will be held from 13 to 31 January 2003. The pre-session working group for the twenty-ninth session will be held from 3 to 7 February 2003.

Reports to be considered at future sessions of the Committee

367.The Committee decided to consider the following reports at its twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth sessions:

(a) Twenty-eighth session

(i)Combined initial and second periodic report

Switzerland

(ii)Combined initial, second and third periodic report

Costa Rica

(iii)Combined initial, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report

Congo

(iv)Combined third and fourth periodic report

Kenya

(v)Fourth periodic report

Luxembourg

(vi)Combined third and fourth, and fifth periodic reports

El Salvador

(vii)Fifth periodic report

Canada

(viii)Fifth and sixth periodic reports

Norway

(b) Twenty-ninth session

(i)Combined initial and second periodic report

Albania

(ii)Second and third periodic reports

Morocco

Slovenia

(iii)Combined third and fourth periodic report

France

(iv)Fourth and fifth periodic reports

Japan

(v)Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports

Ecuador

Overdue reports

368.The Committee decided, as part of a strategy to encourage States parties to report in accordance with article 18 of the Convention, to request the secretariat to provide it with a profile of non-reporting States parties, including their reporting history with respect to all treaty bodies. The Committee would identify priority non-reporting States parties, for example, long-term non-reporting States parties, followed by short-term non-reporting States parties, and analyse the reasons for non-reporting, for example, lack of resources, capacity or political will.

369.The Committee recommended the following incremental measures to encourage reporting by States parties:

(a)Non-reporting States parties would receive reporting reminders on a systematic basis. Notes verbales drawing attention to the Committee’s decision 23/II (consolidation of reporting obligations) and the availability of technical assistance would be directed at States parties whose reports were five years or more overdue;

(b)High-level United Nations officials would be requested to encourage reporting;

(c)Non-reporting would be included as an item on the agenda of the meeting of chairpersons of human rights treaty bodies with a view to the adoption of a coordinated approach to the issue;

(d)Committee members, the bureau and Chairperson of the Committee would be encouraged to meet informally with non-reporting States parties, including on a regional basis;

(e)The Committee would convene a closed meeting with representatives of individual non-reporting States parties to discuss challenges to timely reporting;

(f)The Division for the Advancement of Women, other United Nations entities or bodies, including at the field level, other international organizations or non-governmental organizations would be encouraged to provide technical assistance for States parties at their request;

(g)All human rights treaty bodies would be encouraged to discuss fulfilment of reporting obligations under other human rights treaties in constructive dialogue for States parties;

(h)Fulfilment of reporting obligations under article 18 should be included in the agenda of the twelfth meeting of States parties to the Convention, to be held in August 2002.

Consideration of reports by the Committee and constructive dialogue with States parties

370.The Committee decided that, in cases where a member of the Committee is a national of a State party which is presenting its report, the Committee’s decision 18/III on the non-participation of that member in any part of the consideration of the State party’s report would be explained by the Chairperson at the beginning of the meeting at which that report would be considered and the contribution of that member to the work of the Committee acknowledged.

371.The Committee decided that, in the consideration of periodic reports, questions by experts would be clustered in accordance with the four substantive parts of the Convention. After experts had posed questions on each cluster, the State party would be given an opportunity to respond. Experts would seek to focus on issues identified by the pre-session working group, and would avoid intervening under each cluster.

372.The Committee decided that presentation of initial reports would be limited to a maximum of 45 minutes, presentation of periodic reports would be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes, and such periods would be reflected in the Committee’s programme of work and the Journal of the United Nations. The closed meeting of the Committee to discuss the contents of the concluding comments would be scheduled for a minimum period of 30 minutes, which would be reflected in the Committee’s programme of work in the Journal. The Committee decided that interventions by experts would be limited to five minutes. The time limit would be enforced flexibly but monitored by a speech timer.

Pre-session working group

373.The Committee decided that, as far as possible, country rapporteurs for States parties presenting periodic reports should be included in the pre-session working group convened to draw up the list of issues and questions with regard to those States parties. In cases where the country rapporteur is not included in the relevant pre-session working group, she or he would be encouraged to submit a list of issues and questions to the group.

Concluding comments of the Committee

374.The Committee decided that its concluding comments would include a section on “factors and difficulties” affecting the implementation of the Convention only in the most exceptional circumstances. The persistence of stereotypical attitudes relating to the roles of women and men would not be categorized as a “factor or difficulty”.

375.The Committee decided that a standard paragraph requesting information on the implementation of aspects of outcomes of United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions of review should be included in its concluding comments on reports of States parties, as follows:

“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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.”

Chapter VII

Implementation of article 21 of the Convention

376.The Committee considered agenda item 5, on the implementation of article 21 of the Convention, at its 550th and 567th meetings, on 3 and 21 June 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.550 and SR.567).

377.In introducing the item, the Chief of the Women’s Rights Unit drew attention to a note by the Secretary-General on reports provided by specialized agencies on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of their activities (CEDAW/C/2002/II/3 and Add.1-4).

Action taken by the Committee under agenda item 5

Future general recommendations of the Committee

378.The Committee agreed to formulate a general recommendation, based on its statement to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.2

379.The Committee agreed to formulate a general recommendation on the right of older women to non-discrimination under the Convention, drawing on reports of States parties, its statement to the Second World Assembly on Ageing (A/57/38(Part I), paras. 430-436), and the Madrid Plan of Action adopted by that Assembly.

380.The Committee requested the secretariat to provide a report on its current schedule for general recommendations for its twenty-eighth session in January 2003.

Statement of support for a Decade against Trafficking

381.The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women welcomes the integration of a gender perspective in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 8 September 2001. It welcomes the fact that the World Conference drew attention to the special impact of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on women and girls and to the existence of multiple discrimination against women and girls, in all areas of life, including as victims of trafficking.

382.The Committee welcomes and supports the recommendation of the Durban Programme of Action for the inauguration of a United Nations decade against trafficking in persons, especially women, youth and children.

383.The Committee wishes to draw attention to the wide and increasing dimensions of trafficking in women, which constitutes a major part of contemporary trade in persons and is a form of slavery and a violation of article 6 of the Convention.

384.The Committee is convinced that the deliberations, conferences, publications and other activities that would be undertaken by the United Nations and its agencies in the promotion of a decade against trafficking of persons, especially women, youth and children, would make a major contribution to the attempts to eradicate the human suffering caused by trafficking and would address the marginalization, discrimination and exploitation of so many women around the world, particularly from poor countries, who are victims of trafficking.

Chapter VIII

Provisional agenda for the exceptional session and the twenty-eighth session

385.The Committee considered the draft provisional agenda for its exceptional session and twenty-eighth session at its 567th meeting (see CEDAW/C/SR.567). The Committee decided to approve the following provisional agendas for the sessions:

Exceptional 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 twenty-seventh and exceptional 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 22 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

6.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its exceptional session.

Twenty-eighth session

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 exceptional and twenty-eighth sessions of the Committee.

6.Consideration of 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.Provisional agenda for the twenty-ninth session.

10.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its twenty-eighth session.

Chapter IX

Adoption of the report

386.The Committee considered the draft report on its twenty-seventh session (CEDAW/C/2002/I/L.1 and CEDAW/C/2002/II/CRP.3 and Add.1-6) at its 567th meeting (see CEDAW/C/SR.567) and adopted it, as orally revised during the discussion.

Notes

1See General Assembly resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993.

2Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 38 (A/56/38), Part I, paras. 373-385.

Annex

Revised reporting guidelines

A.Introduction

A.1.These guidelines replace all earlier reporting guidelines issued by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW/C/7/Rev.3), which may now be disregarded. The present guidelines do not affect the Committee’s procedure in relation to any exceptional reports which may be requested which are governed by the Rule 48.5 of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure and its Decision 21/I on exceptional reports.

A.2.These guidelines will be effective for all reports to be submitted after 31 December 2002.

A.3.The guidelines should be followed by States parties in the preparation of initial and all subsequent periodic reports.

A.4.Compliance with these guidelines will reduce the need for the Committee to request further information when it proceeds to consider a report; it will also help the Committee to consider the situation regarding human rights in every State party on an equal basis.

B.Framework of the Convention concerning reports

B.1.Every State party, upon ratifying or acceding to the Convention, undertakes, under article 18, to submit, within a year of the Convention’s entry into force for that State, an initial report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures it has adopted to give effect to the provisions of the Convention and progress made in this respect; and thereafter periodic reports at least every four years and further whenever the Committee so requests.

C.General guidance for contents of all reports

C.1.The articles and the Committee’s general recommendations. The terms of the articles in Parts I, II, III and IV of the Convention must, together with general recommendations adopted by the Committee on any such article, or on a theme addressed by the Convention, be taken into account in preparing the report.

C.2.Reservations and declarations. Any reservation to or declaration as to any article of the Convention by the State party should be explained and its continued maintenance justified. Taking account of the Committee’s statement on reservations adopted at its nineteenth session (see A/53/38/Rev.1, part two, chap. I, sect. A), the precise effect of any reservation or declaration in terms of national law and policy should be explained. States parties that have entered general reservations which do not refer to a specific article, or which are directed at articles 2 and/or 3 should report on the effect and the interpretation of those reservations. States parties should provide information on any reservations or declarations they may have lodged with regard to similar obligations in other human rights treaties.

C.3.Factors and difficulties. Article 18.2 of the Convention provides that factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations under the Convention may be indicated. A report should explain the nature and extent of, and reasons for every such factor and difficulty, if any such exist; and should give details of the steps being taken to overcome them.

C.4.Data and statistics. A report should include sufficient data and statistics disaggregated by sex relevant to each article and the general recommendations of the Committee to enable it to assess progress in the implementation of the Convention.

C.5.Core document. Where the State party has already prepared a core document, this will be available to the Committee. It should be updated as necessary in the report, particularly as regards “General legal framework” and “Information and publicity” (HRI/CORE/1, annex).

D.The initial report

D.1.General

D.1.1. This report is the State party’s first opportunity to present to the Committee the extent to which its laws and practices comply with the Convention which it has ratified. The report should:

(a)Establish the constitutional, legal and administrative framework for the implementation of the Convention;

(b)Explain the legal and practical measures adopted to give effect to the provisions of the Convention;

(c)Demonstrate the progress made in ensuring enjoyment of the provisions of the Convention by the people within the State party and subject to its jurisdiction.

D.2.Contents of the report

D.2.1. A State party should deal specifically with every article in Parts I, II, III and IV of the Convention; legal norms should be described, but that is not sufficient: the factual situation and the practical availability, effect and implementation of remedies for violation of provisions of the Convention should be explained and exemplified.

D.2.2. The report should explain:

(1)Whether the Convention is directly applicable in domestic law on ratification, or has been incorporated into the national Constitution or domestic law so as to be directly applicable;

(2)Whether the provisions of the Convention are guaranteed in a Constitution or other laws and to what extent; or if not, whether its provisions can be invoked before and given effect to by courts, tribunals and administrative authorities;

(3)How article 2 of the Convention is applied, setting out the principal legal measures which the State party has taken to give effect to Convention rights; and the range of remedies available to persons whose rights may have been violated.

D.2.3. Information should be given about the judicial, administrative and other competent authorities having jurisdiction with respect to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

D.2.4. The report should include information about any national or official institution or machinery which exercises responsibility in implementing the provisions of the Convention or in responding to complaints of violations of those provisions, and give examples of their activities in this respect.

D.2.5. The report should outline any restrictions or limitations, even of a temporary nature, imposed by law, practice or tradition, or in any other manner on the enjoyment of each provision of the Convention.

D.2.6. The report should describe the situation of non-governmental organizations and women’s associations and their participation in the implementation of the Convention and the preparation of the report.

D.3.Annexes to the report

D.3.1. The report should contain sufficient quotations from or summaries of the relevant principal constitutional, legislative and other texts which guarantee and provide remedies in relation to Convention rights.

D.3.2. The reports should be accompanied by these texts, which will not be translated or copied, but will be made available to the Committee.

E.Subsequent periodic reports

E.1.In general, the subsequent periodic reports of States parties should focus on the period between the consideration of their previous report and the presentation of the current reports. There should be two starting points for such reports:

(a)The concluding comments (particularly “Concerns” and “Recommendations”) on the previous report;

(b)An examination by the State party of the progress made towards and the current implementation of the Convention within its territory or jurisdiction and the enjoyment of its provisions by those within its territory or jurisdiction.

E.2.Periodic reports should be structured so as to follow the articles of the Convention. If there is nothing new to report under any article, it should be so stated. Periodic reports should also highlight any remaining obstacle to the participation of women on an equal basis with men in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the State party.

E.3.The State party should refer again to the guidance on initial reports and on annexes, insofar as these may also apply to periodic reports.

E.4.There may be circumstances where the following matters should be addressed:

(a)A fundamental change may have occurred in the State party’s political and legal approach affecting Convention implementation: in such a case a full article-by-article report may be required;

(b)New legal or administrative measures may have been introduced which require the annexure of texts, and judicial or other decisions.

F.Optional protocol

F.1.If the State party has ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol and the Committee has issued Views entailing provision of a remedy or expressing any other concern, relating to a communication received under that Protocol, a report should include information about the steps taken to provide a remedy, or meet such a concern, and to ensure that any circumstance giving rise to the communication does not recur.

F.2.If the State party has ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol and the Committee has conducted an inquiry under article 8 of the Optional Protocol, a report should include details of any measures taken in response to an inquiry, and to ensure that the violations giving rise to the inquiry do not recur.

G.Measures to implement outcomes of United Nations conferences, summits and reviews

G.1.In the light of paragraph 323 of the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, in September 1995, initial and subsequent reports of States parties should contain information on the implementation of the actions to be taken in regard to the 12 critical areas of concern identified in the Platform. Reports should also contain information on the implementation of the Further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action agreed by the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first session” in June 2000.

G.2.Taking into account the gender dimensions of declarations, platforms and programmes of action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions of the General Assembly (such as the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing), reports should include information on the implementation of specific aspects of these documents which relate to specific articles of the Convention in the light of the subjects with which they deal (for example, migrant women or older women).

H.The Committee’s consideration of reports

H.1.General

H.1.1. The Committee intends its consideration of a report to take the form of a constructive discussion with the delegation, the aim of which is to improve the situation pertaining to Convention rights in the State.

H.2.List of issues and questions with respect to periodic reports

H.2.1. On the basis of all information at its disposal, the Committee will supply in advance a list of issues or questions which will form the basic agenda for consideration of periodic reports. Written answers to the list of issues of questions will be required from the State party several months in advance of the session at which the report will be considered. The delegation should come prepared to address the list of issues and to respond to further questions from members, with such updated information as may be necessary; and to do so within the time allocated for consideration of the report.

H.3.The State party’s delegation

H.3.1. The Committee wishes to ensure that it is able effectively to perform its functions under article 18 and that the reporting State party should obtain the maximum benefit from the reporting requirement. The State party’s delegation should therefore include persons who, through their knowledge of and competence to explain the human rights situation in that State, are able to respond to the Committee’s written and oral questions and comments concerning the whole range of the Convention’s provisions.

H.4.Concluding comments

H.4.1. Shortly after the consideration of the report, the Committee will publish its concluding comments on the report and the constructive dialogue with the delegation. These concluding comments will be included in the Committee’s annual report to the General Assembly; the Committee expects the State party to disseminate these conclusions, in all appropriate languages, with a view to public information and discussion.

H.5.Extra information

H.5.1. In the course of its consideration of a report, the Committee may request, or the delegation may offer, further information; the secretariat will keep a note of such matters, which should be dealt with in the subsequent report.

I.Format of the report

I.1.Reports should be submitted in one of the six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish or Russian). They should be submitted in hard and electronic form.

I.2.Reports should be as concise as possible. Initial reports should be no more than 100 pages; periodic reports should be no more than 70 pages.

I.3.Paragraphs should be sequentially numbered.

I.4.The document should be on A4-sized paper; and presented in single-spaced format.

I.5.The document should be printed on one side of each sheet of paper so as to allow for reproduction by photo-offset.

Part threeReport of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its exceptional session

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

Letter of transmittal

15 September 2002

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 exceptional session at United Nations Headquarters from 5 to 23 August 2002. It adopted its report on the session at the 588th meeting, on 23 August 2002. The report of the Committee is herewith submitted to you for transmission to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session.

(Signed) Charlotte AbakaChairpersonCommittee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Chapter IIntroduction

1.In its decision 25/I, adopted at its twenty-fifth session, the Committee, taking into account the fact that a significant number of reports of States parties were awaiting consideration and that it was concerned that the information contained therein would become obsolete, requested the General Assembly to approve, on an exceptional basis, a session of three weeks’ duration in August 2002, consisting of 30 meetings of the Committee to be used entirely for the consideration of the reports of States parties in order to reduce the backlog of reports.

2.In its resolution 56/229 of 24 December 2001, the General Assembly acknowledged the number of reports awaiting consideration by the Committee and decided to authorize the Committee to hold, on an exceptional basis, an extraordinary session of three weeks’ duration in 2002 to be used entirely for the consideration of the reports of the States parties.

3.A total of 11 States parties presented reports at the Committee’s exceptional session, which was held from 5 to 23 August 2002.

Chapter IIOrganizational and other matters

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

4.On 23 August 2002, the closing date of the exceptional session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, there were 170 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 its article 27, the Convention entered into force on 3 September 1981.

5.A list of States parties to the Convention is contained in annex I to the present report. A list of States parties that have accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention is contained in annex II. A list of States parties that have signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention is contained in annex III.

B.Opening of the session

6.The Committee held is exceptional session at United Nations Headquarters from 5 to 23 August 2002. The Committee held 24 plenary meetings (568th to 588th) and met as a working group of the whole in 6 meetings.

7.The session was opened by the Chairperson of the Committee, Charlotte Abaka (Ghana), who had been elected at the twenty-fourth session of the Committee, in January 2001.

8.Addressing the Committee at its 568th meeting, on 5 August 2002, the Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela E. V. King, welcomed the members of the Committee to the exceptional session and informed them about several events which had taken place between the twenty-seventh and exceptional sessions.

9.The Special Adviser informed the Committee about the open debate of the Security Council on conflict, peacekeeping and gender, where she had presented some findings, including challenges and recommendations emanating from the Secretary-General’s study on women, peace and security. She stated that the study, which was nearly completed, was based on inputs from all United Nations entities that participated in the Inter-agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security, and provided the collective wisdom and experience of the United Nations system, both at Headquarters and in the field. The study considered the impact of armed conflict on women and girls at every stage of conflict, and revealed that violence against women and girls during armed conflict often continues as domestic violence when the conflict is over. The study concluded that sustainable peace and lasting security could not be achieved without the empowerment of women and made recommendations on protection issues, humanitarian law, girl child soldiers, disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and rebuilding.

10.The Special Adviser highlighted the multi-year programme of work of the Commission on the Status of Women for 2002-2006 and informed the Committee that the Commission would consider two thematic issues at its forty-seventh session, in 2003, in addition to the regular items on its agenda. Those themes were: “participation and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women” and “women’s human rights and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls as defined in the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly entitled ‘Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century’”. She indicated that expert group meetings on those topics would be held in November 2002.

11.The Special Adviser drew the Committee’s attention to the ratification of the Convention by Bahrain on 18 June 2002. She informed the Committee that that brought the total number of States parties to 170, and she assured the Committee that her Office and the Division for the Advancement of Women would continue to take every opportunity to encourage ratification of the Convention and the Optional Protocol, as well as the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1. The Special Adviser informed the Committee of the positive feedback which she had received from the States parties at the informal meeting of States parties that the Committee convened during its twenty-seventh session. The Special Adviser also stated that the Division was planning to hold a reporting workshop in November, at the headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), for East Asian States parties which have not yet submitted reports to the Committee.

12.In closing, the Special Adviser informed the Committee about the General Assembly’s target of 50 per cent women in all Professional and higher-level posts. She stated that that goal was still far from being met; as of 30 June 2002, in the entire United Nations system, including the Secretariat, only 34 per cent of women held posts at those levels. She called on the Committee to ask States parties to routinely provide information on how many women nationals work for international or regional organizations, which would assist the Secretary-General in meeting the goal of 50 per cent gender equality.

C.Attendance

13.Twenty-one members of the Committee attended the exceptional session. Naela Gabr attended from 9 to 23 August; Göran Melander from 19 to 23 August. Emna Aouij and Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini did not attend the session.

14.A list of the members of the Committee indicating the duration of their terms of office appears in annex IV of the present report.

D.Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

15.The Committee considered the provisional agenda and proposed organization of work (CEDAW/C/2002/EXC/1) at its 568th meeting, on 5 August 2002. The agenda as adopted was 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 twenty-seventh and the exceptional 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 22 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

6.Adoption of the report of the Committee on its exceptional session.

E.Report of the pre-session working group

16.A pre-session working group of the Committee was convened from 4 to 8 February 2002 to prepare lists of issues and questions relating to the periodic reports that would be considered by the Committee at the exceptional session. The pre-session working group for the exceptional session, as authorized by the General Assembly in its resolution 56/229, met together with the pre-session working group for the twenty-seventh session. The following 10 members of the Committee participated: Charlotte Abaka (Africa), Ivanka Corti (Europe), Yolanda Ferrer Gómez (Latin America and the Caribbean), Rosalyn Hazelle (Latin America and the Caribbean), Rosario Manalo (Asia), Göran Melander (Europe), Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (Africa), Frances Livingstone Raday (Europe), Zelmira Regazzoli (Latin America and the Caribbean) and Heisoo Shin (Asia).

17.The working group prepared lists of issues and questions relating to the reports of 11 States parties, namely, Argentina, Armenia, Barbados, Czech Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Mexico, Peru, Uganda and Yemen.

18.At its 568th meeting, on 5 August 2002, Ms. Ivanka Corti, on behalf of the Chairperson of the pre-sessional working group, Mr. Göran Melander, introduced the report of the group (CEDAW/PSWG/2002/EXC/CRP.1 and Add.1-10).

Chapter IIIReport of the Chairperson on the activities undertaken between the twenty-seventh and exceptional sessions of the Committee

19.At its 568th meeting, on 5 August 2002, the Chairperson of the Committee, Charlotte Abaka, briefed the Committee on her attendance at the 14th Meeting of Chairpersons of Treaty Bodies, where she was elected Chairperson/Rapporteur of the meeting. She stated that the meeting gave Chairpersons the opportunity to exchange views and engage in dialogue with others in the field, including the Commission on Human Rights and its special procedures, and the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

20.The Chairperson also briefed the Committee on the fourth joint meeting with special procedures mandate-holders, where the importance of interaction with the special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights was discussed and recommendations made that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights explore ways of encouraging further dialogue between them. The Chairperson stated that the next joint meeting would be dedicated to a discussion on globalization and its impact upon the various mandates of the special procedures and treaty bodies.

21.The Chairperson drew the Committee’s attention to the informal consultation between States parties and the Chairpersons, in which a number of issues were discussed, including the periodicity of reports, the burden that reports can entail, in particular for small States, and consideration of reports by States parties. She stated that, owing to the interest generated during the meeting, it had been agreed that an entire day would be dedicated to an informal consultation between States parties and the Chairpersons in 2003.

22.The Chairperson informed the Committee on the first Inter-Committee meeting, which focused on ways of strengthening cooperation and collaboration among the treaty bodies and ways of harmonizing their working methods. She stated that, owing to the success of the Inter-Committee meeting, it was recommended that a second meeting be convened in two years to discuss outstanding issues from the first Inter-Committee meeting. She noted in particular that all participants in the Inter-Committee meeting had agreed that human rights treaty bodies should work together in a complementary way in order to include the holistic nature of the human rights treaty framework.

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

A.Introduction

23.At its exceptional session, the Committee considered the reports of 11 States parties submitted under article 18 of the Convention: the second periodic reports of two States parties; the third periodic report of one State party; the combined third and fourth periodic report of one State party; the fourth periodic reports of three States parties; the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of two States parties; and the fifth periodic reports of five States parties.

24.The Committee prepared concluding comments on each of the 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 provided below.

B.Consideration of reports of States parties

1.Second periodic reports

Armenia

25.The Committee considered the second periodic report of Armenia (CEDAW/C/ARM/2) at its 571st and 572nd meetings on 7 August 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.571 and 572).

(a)Introduction by the State party

26.In introducing the report, the representative of Armenia informed the Committee that the Government had sought to implement the recommendations and suggestions in the Committee’s concluding comments on Armenia’s initial report, but despite its best efforts, 10 years had not been sufficient for Armenia to solve the problems it had faced as a result of transition, a devastating earthquake, a blockade and other extremely difficult circumstances.

27.In May 2002 a decree of the Prime Minister had created the position of Deputy Minister for Women’s Issues within the Ministry of Social Security. The Deputy Minister heads the Department of Women’s Affairs, coordinates all women-related activities of other ministries, ensures collaboration with women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and enforces compliance with the Convention. By the same decree, two commissions for women’s issues had been established, the first to develop the “National Programme and Plan of Action for the Improvement of Women’s Status and the Enhancement of their Role in the Society” and create mechanisms for its implementation, and the second to deal with trafficking of women.

28.The Government was aware of the crucial role of NGOs in the advancement of women. NGOs had traditionally worked in close collaboration with government entities, but four NGO representatives had been included in one of the commissions, thereby allowing for more direct cooperation, including in the design and implementation of government programmes. Women’s NGOs and the Ministry of Social Security had collaborated on the creation of the “Ororots” or “Cradle” Programme, which supported pregnant women and newborns. The Ministries of Health and Social Security and NGOs were also planning additional projects aimed at improving conditions in maternity wards in the light of the maternal mortality rate, which had increased from 32 per 100,000 from 1995 to 1997 to 42 per 100,000 between 1998 and 2000.

29.Although there was no legal impediment to women standing for election to the National Assembly, there were only four women in the 131-member National Assembly. A fair and transparent environment needed to be created with sufficient financial resources and the removal of social, cultural and psychological barriers to encourage a greater number of women to run for office; however, partly as a result of training and seminars by NGOs, data indicated that more women would run in the regional and municipal elections scheduled for 20 October 2002 than in previous years.

30.The representative indicated that the Ministry of Social Security planned to create new employment opportunities for women, implement special zero-interest microcredit programmes in urban and rural areas to support women entrepreneurs, promote the activities of women in small and medium-sized businesses and increase the financing given to state-operated day-care facilities. One of the most important goals of the Ministry of Social Security was the removal of discrimination against women through the reduction of poverty and a “Poverty Reduction Strategy” had been presented to the public for discussion.

31.The representative indicated that, since its independence, Armenia had signed and ratified over 40 international instruments on human rights, a number of which were directed at the protection of women’s rights. Armenia had signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary Protocols to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and it was envisaged that those instruments would be ratified during the fall session of the National Assembly. In addition, Armenia had become a full member of the Council of Europe on 25 January 2001 and signed the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols. Under the Decree by the President of Armenia, a special working group was set up, which would develop recommendations on legislative reforms and practical measures aimed at compliance with the requirements of the Convention. National legislation affirmed the notion of equality of rights for everyone in all spheres, equality of opportunity for women and men in health care, education, economic opportunities, employment and the administration of justice.

32.The Constitutional Court assessed whether the obligations in international instruments were in compliance with the Armenian Constitution prior to their ratification. On ratification, treaties became an integral part of the Armenian legal system, with Article 116 of the Constitution providing that laws and other legal acts of the Republic of Armenia should apply to the extent that they did not contradict the Constitution. Draft legislation was submitted to international experts in order to assess their compliance with Armenia’s international obligations, especially in the field of human rights.

33.Trafficking in women was a comparatively new phenomenon in Armenia and was not directly addressed in legislation. Some of the components of trafficking, such as illegal border crossing and the preparation of forged documents, were punishable under current laws, and a number of articles in the Criminal Code, including those on rape, sex with minors, bogus marriage, polygamy, pimping and kidnapping, were also relevant. A special inter-ministerial working group tasked with elaborating appropriate programmes of action, proposing necessary legislative reforms or amendments and designing concrete projects had recently been formed, and television programmes, articles and awareness-raising campaigns had also addressed the issue. The Government believed that the provision of qualified assistance and professional consultation on migration issues would reduce the risk of trafficking for potential migrants and, accordingly, in March 2002, the State Department for Migration and Refugees established a “Migrants Service Point” (MSP), which was also implementing trafficking prevention programmes.

34.The representative indicated that, although reported rates of crimes against women in the home were very low, it was generally acknowledged that they were underreported because of the desire to keep the family together for the sake of the children, financial dependence or fear of public opinion. Social and economic conditions also prevented reporting and prosecutions. Although the Criminal Code regulated acts of violence against women in general, there was no specific legislation on domestic violence, and large numbers considered that a man was justified in beating his wife in certain situations. The representative indicated that public attitudes towards the legal system were negative and consequently resort to courts was unusual. An anti-corruption strategy and action plan were developed and submitted for the approval of the Prime Minister by the Joint Working Group on Anti-Corruption.

35.The representative stated that the transition to a market economy had not been a gradual process, but had been fragmented and the impact on the State economy had been significant. Although 98 to 99 per cent of the population was literate, 55 per cent lived in poverty and about 66 per cent of the unemployed in Armenia were women. In general, women were employed in less mobile and consequently non-competitive situations in the labour market, which resulted, inter alia, in a decrease in their standard of living. Currently, social security and benefits were reduced to a minimum for categories such as single mothers, mothers with more than one child and those with disabilities. There had also been budget reductions in health, education and culture. Many mothers had chosen to place their children under State guardianship, and the Ministry of Social Security together with UNICEF were monitoring orphanages as well as families which had placed their children in those facilities. As a result, many children would be returned to their families and would receive some financial assistance.

36.In concluding, the representative emphasized the commitment of the Government of Armenia to improving the situation of women and securing de jure and de facto equality between women and men. The challenges facing women had become more clearly articulated in recent years, the number of women’s NGOs had significantly increased and society was becoming more conscious of gender issues. The public perception of gender roles had not changed significantly, but there was greater consciousness of the necessity of changing the existing situation.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

37.The Committee commends the State party on its second report, which was presented in a timely manner. It also commends the State party for the written replies to the questions of the Committee’s pre-session working group, and the frank oral presentation of the delegation that sought to clarify the current situation of women in Armenia, and provided additional information on the implementation of the Convention.

38.The Committee congratulates the State party for the high-level delegation headed by the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations and the Deputy Minister for Social Security. The Committee appreciates the open dialogue that took place between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

Positive aspects

39.The Committee welcomes the establishment of a national machinery for the advancement of women through the creation, in May 2002, of the position of Deputy Minister for Women’s Issues in the Ministry of Social Security to coordinate all the activities of other ministries with regard to women and to ensure collaboration with women’s NGOs.

40.The Committee expresses satisfaction at the continuing achievements of Armenian women in the field of education, particularly in the technical and scientific areas, including new technology.

41.The Committee welcomes the growing number of non-governmental organizations that play a prominent role in promoting women’s empowerment in Armenia and appreciates that the State party has included four NGO representatives in its Commission on Human Rights.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

42.The Committee is concerned that women are underrepresented in decision-making and political bodies, in particular in the National Assembly where they hold only 4 out of 131 seats. The Committee is concerned that women’s skills and potential are not sufficiently utilized in Armenia’s efforts to battle the serious economic and social challenges the State party is facing, including the refugee problem. The Committee is also concerned that, despite their participation in the NGO sector, women are not active in politics generally, and that their level of participation in political parties is less than 20 per cent.

43 . The Committee recommends the adoption and implementation of measures to increase women’s participation in the political sphere and to consider applying temporary special measures set forth in article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, such as quotas. The Committee recommends that the State party offer support training programmes for current and future women leaders and carry out awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of women’s participation in political decision-making.

44.The Committee notes that, despite the growing number of NGOs active in women’ empowerment, the cooperation between the State party and non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Convention and the preparation of the report has been limited.

45. The Committee encourages the State party to involve non-governmental organizations in all stages of the implementation of the Convention, including in policy-making.

46.The Committee expresses concern at the prevalence of violence against women and that the current legislation on violence does not include any specific provisions on domestic violence. It is concerned that the current penalties for rape are very light and can suggest to the community that this infringement of human rights is not a serious crime.

47. The Committee urges the State party to recognize that violence against women, including domestic violence, constitutes a violation of the human rights of women under the Convention and requests the State party to place a high priority on the introduction of comprehensive and holistic measures to address violence against women and girls in the family and society. It calls on the State party to ensure that such violence is prosecuted and heavily penalized. Drawing on its general recommendation 19, the Committee requests the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence, and to ensure that victims have immediate means of redress and protection. It recommends that measures be taken to provide shelters for women and girl victims of violence and to ensure that all public officials, in particular law enforcement officials and the judiciary, as well as health providers and social workers, are fully sensitized to all forms of violence against women and girls. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake awareness-raising measures, including zero-tolerance campaigns through the media and public education programmes, to ensure all forms of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, are regarded as morally and socially unacceptable.

48.While noting the establishment of the Migrants Service Point as part of an anti-trafficking strategy, the Committee is concerned at the absence of a comprehensive policy, including legislation, to combat trafficking in women and girls. The Committee is also concerned that current legislative provisions to address components of trafficking may exacerbate the situation of victims, rather than discourage perpetrators.

49. The Committee urges the State party to assign the issue of trafficking in women and girls high priority through the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat this crime, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders and increased international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women. It recommends the introduction of measures aimed at improving the economic situation of women so as to eliminate their vulnerability to traffickers, education initiatives for vulnerable groups, including teenage girls, as well as social support, rehabilitation and reintegration measures for women and girls who have been victims of trafficking. The Committee calls on the State party to ensure that trafficked women and girls have the support they need so that they can give testimony against perpetrators of trafficking and urges training of border police and law enforcement personnel so that they have the skills necessary to recognize and provide support for victims of trafficking.

50.The Committee expresses concern at the lack of information in the report and in the responses on prostitution and that the State party has not made sufficient efforts to address the issue of exploitation of prostitutes.

51. The Committee requests the State party to provide information on prostitution in its next periodic report and to formulate and implement a comprehensive programme to address this phenomenon, including through the enactment of legislation against exploitation of prostitutes.

52.The Committee expresses concern that budget cuts in the health-care system severely limit women’s access to health care. It is concerned about the status of women’s health, especially their reproductive health, and the increase in the rate of maternal mortality. The Committee is concerned at the widespread use of abortion as a commonly used means of birth control, particularly in rural areas.

53. The Committee urges the State party to maintain access to affordable and adequate health care. Drawing attention to its general recommendation 24 on women and health, the Committee calls on the State party to ensure the availability and accessibility of affordable contraceptive means to both women and men as part of a comprehensive health policy. The Committee encourages the State party to promote programmes of sex education for both girls and boys. The Committee calls on the State party to take all appropriate steps to foster responsible sexual behaviour and take all appropriate steps to stop the use of abortion as a means of birth control.

54.The Committee is particularly concerned that deeply rooted patriarchal attitudes in the family and society persist despite the high level of education that women have achieved.

55. The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent and wide-ranging measures, such as the revision of curricula and textbooks and the implementation of awareness-raising programmes, including specific programmes targeting men and boys, to change stereotypical and discriminatory attitudes and perceptions about the roles and responsibilities of women and girls and men and boys in the family and in society.

56.The Committee expresses concern at the higher level of women’s unemployment than men’s. The Committee is concerned at the lack of sex-disaggregated data relating to specific employment issues, in particular wages. It is concerned that there is no equal employment opportunities legislation, providing appropriate civil and criminal remedies for discrimination in hiring, promotion, dismissal and sexual harassment in the public and private sectors. The Committee is also concerned that some of the protective provisions for women in employment are formulated in a way that perpetuates disadvantageous stereotypes.

57. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt equal employment opportunities legislation. The Committee also recommends the setting up of training programmes aiming to facilitate women’s employment and urges the State party to collate sex-disaggregated data on all aspects of women’s employment, and especially wages, so as to address the employment situation in an informed way. In addition, the Committee recommends that the State party review its protective legislation in order to address any negative impact it may have on women’s employment.

58.The Committee expresses concern regarding the situation of rural women, including their access to health-care services and income-generating activities.

59. The Committee encourages the State party to develop special policies and programmes aimed at the economic empowerment of rural women and their access to health-care services.

60.The Committee is concerned that the situation of growing economic hardship and extreme poverty in the country, especially the feminization of poverty, negatively impacts on women’s enjoyment of their human rights.

61. The Committee urges the States party to develop poverty reduction programmes targeted to women, including for the predominantly female refugee population.

62.The Committee notes the insufficiency of sex-disaggregated statistical data in all fields. It is also concerned that the impact of policies and programmes aimed at the advancement of women has not been assessed.

63. The Committee recommends a comprehensive compilation of sex-disaggregated data and urges the State party to include relevant statistics and data in its next report. It also recommends the introduction of regular impact assessments of legislation, policies and programmes.

64.The Committee is concerned that the minimum legal age for marriage is 17 years for women and 18 years for men. It is also concerned that in exceptional circumstances girls may marry at 16.

65. The Committee recommends that the State party raise the age of marriage for women to 18 years.

66. The Committee urges the State party to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to deposit, as soon as possible, its instrument of acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1 of the Convention on the Committee’s meeting time.

67. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in these concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention.

68. Taking account of the gender dimension 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

69. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Armenia of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Armenia, and particularly government administrators and politicians, 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 results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century”.

Czech Republic

70.The Committee considered the second periodic report of the Czech Republic (CEDAW/C/CZE/2) at its 573rd and 574th meetings, on 8 August 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.573 and 574).

(a)Introduction by the State party

71.In introducing the second periodic report, the representative of the Czech Republic stated that his country was in a period of economic and social transformation, but that significant progress had been made during the last four years in areas covered by the Convention. Emphasis had been placed on the creation and enhancement of legal and institutional frameworks for the application of human rights and the achievement of equality between women and men.

72.The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had been made responsible for the coordination of government policy relating to women and had developed a National Action Plan for the Advancement of Equality between Men and Women in 1998. The Plan was based on the concluding comments adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the previous report submitted to it by the Czech Republic. The Plan formed the basis for government priorities and procedures in achieving equality between men and women and was reviewed and updated annually. All ministries were required to develop, by the end of 2001, similar departmental priorities and procedures and to set up gender focal points. In March 2002, the Government adopted a National Plan for Employment, which included policy measures on equal opportunity in employment.

73.In relation to the protection of women’s human rights, the Government had, in 1998, established an advisory Human Rights Council, with a working committee on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women with membership drawn from both government officials and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In 2000, the Office of the Public Human Rights Protector had been established, and in 2001 an advisory Government Council for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men had been created. The aim of the Council was the enhancement of institutional support for gender mainstreaming and gender equality. In 2002 and 2003, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs would be undertaking a project to evaluate and remodel existing institutional mechanisms for the advancement of gender equality.

74.The representative indicated that the general elections of June 2002 provided an opportunity for the advancement of women’s representation in political life, with women gaining 17 per cent of parliamentary seats — four more seats than in the preceding period — and two ministerial positions. While women headed a number of other national institutions, such as the Supreme Court, the National Prosecutor’s Office, the National Statistics Bureau, the National Nuclear Safety Bureau and the National Academy of Science, there was still insufficient representation of women at decision-making levels.

75.A number of improvements had been made in the national legal system with regard to women’s rights. In May 2001, the Optional Protocol to the Convention had entered into force for the Czech Republic. The principle of gender equality had been introduced into the legal system through the revision of acts including the Employment Act, the Labour Code and the Wages and Salaries Acts. The position of plaintiffs in court proceedings relating to gender-based discrimination had been improved with the revision of the Civil Court Proceedings Act, which shifted the burden of proof from plaintiff to defendant. In response to the Committee’s concern that Czech legislation did not include a definition of discrimination, identified in its concluding comments on the previous report, a general act on protection against discrimination had been drafted and would be submitted to the Government by the end of 2002.

76.The representative stated that one of the main challenges to fulfilling the obligations under the Convention was the low level of public awareness on gender equality issues and indicated that the Government recognized that education and awareness campaigns should be the first step in implementing gender-based policies and affirmative action. In April 2001, the Government had agreed to incorporate, where appropriate, positive (affirmative) measures in relevant draft legislation.

77.With regard to violence against women, the suppression of trafficking in women was of great importance to the Government since the Czech Republic had become a country of origin, transit and, more recently, of destination of victims. The efforts of women’s NGOs and a public awareness campaign launched in 2001 highlighted the issue of domestic violence. In April 2001, an inter-ministerial working group had been set up to create interdisciplinary teams allowing for health care, social, legal and police cooperation in detecting and prosecuting cases of violence against women. The Government was preparing a new Penal Code in which domestic violence would be specifically addressed.

78.The representative noted that, while the Czech Republic had a high rate of employment among women, the stereotyped view of gender roles which persisted in society resulted in a double burden being placed on women in terms of their working and family lives. Particular importance was therefore being given to promoting legislative measures and changes in public opinion towards more active involvement of men in family life. To that end, the Government planned to support various measures focused on reconciliation of family and employment responsibilities which would assist in the promotion of equality of women and men in employment, politics and society.

79.In concluding, the representative emphasized the key role of international cooperation in formulating and advancing national policy in the area of gender equality and acknowledged the assistance the Czech Republic derived from such cooperation in identifying and formulating its policies in that area.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

80.The Committee expresses appreciation to the State party for submitting its second periodic report, which follows the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for the written replies to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and its oral presentation, which provided additional information on the current situation of the implementation of the Convention in the Czech Republic.

81.The Committee commends the State party on its delegation, which was headed by the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and included officials from various branches of the Government.

Positive aspects

82.The Committee commends the efforts by the State party to implement the Convention. It welcomes the range of legislative reforms, policies, plans and assessment analyses, including the revisions to the Employment Act, the Labour Code, the Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Priorities and Proceedings of the Government in the Enforcement of the Equality between Men and Women, to eliminate discrimination against women. It welcomes the efforts at strengthening gender mainstreaming, and those undertaken to elaborate a draft general act on the protection against discrimination, including the introduction of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, which are also to be considered in all other draft legal regulations, where appropriate.

83.The Committee welcomes the progressive development of the national machinery for the advancement of women and gender equality. It welcomes the establishment of mechanisms, including the Government Human Rights Council and the Office of the Public Human Rights Protector, for monitoring the promotion and protection of human rights, including the human rights of women.

84.The Committee commends the State party’s collaboration with and recognition of the important role of non-governmental organizations working on women’s issues.

85.The Committee notes with satisfaction the high level of women’s educational achievement and the reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates.

86.The Committee commends the State party for having ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

87.The Committee is concerned that women have seldom used laws to challenge acts of discrimination and that there is a lack of court decisions in which women have obtained redress for such acts. The Committee is also concerned that there is still a lack of familiarity with both the Convention itself and the opportunities for its application and enforcement, as well as with legislative reforms aimed at eliminating discrimination against women, including among the judiciary, law enforcement personnel and women themselves.

88. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that Czech law provides adequate and accessible enforcement procedures and legal remedies for violations of women’s rights. The Committee recommends the strengthening of education and training programmes in particular for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on the Convention and on the legislative reforms aimed at eliminating discrimination against women. It urges the State party to ensure that Czech law provides adequate enforcement procedures and legal remedies for violation of women’s rights. It recommends that awareness-raising campaigns targeted at women be undertaken so that women can avail themselves of procedures and remedies for violations of the rights under the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to provide, in its next report, information about complaints filed in courts based on the Convention, as well as any court decisions that refer to the Convention. It encourages the State party to further reflect, within the framework of the intended legislation on discrimination, on the establishment of quasi-judicial mechanisms.

89.While recognizing the efforts of the State party to strengthen the national machinery for the advancement of women, the Committee remains concerned that the existing national machinery does not have sufficient power, visibility or financial and human resources to effectively promote the advancement of women and gender equality.

90. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen the existing national machinery in order to make it more effective by providing it with adequate power, visibility and human and financial resources at all levels and enhancing coordination among the existing mechanisms for the advancement of women and the promotion of gender equality. It also recommends the strengthening of the State party’s gender mainstreaming efforts, and encourages, within the framework of the State party’s efforts at decentralization, the establishment of regional and local equal opportunities machinery.

91.While recognizing that the number of women in the Chamber of Deputies has increased and that there are currently two women ministers in the Government, the Committee is concerned about the low representation of women in high-level elected and appointed bodies, including Parliament, and as high-ranking officials within the executive bodies, the judiciary, the civil and diplomatic services and international organizations.

92. The Committee urges the State party to take measures, including improvements in the election law, to increase the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies through, inter alia, the implementation of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, in order to realize women’s right to participation in all areas of public life and, particularly, at high levels of decision-making. The Committee recommends that the State party increase its efforts in offering or supporting training programmes for current and future women leaders and carry out awareness-raising campaigns regarding the importance of women’s participation in political decision-making. The Committee also recommends that, parallel to efforts at the local level, efforts at promoting gender balance in the public sector at the national level be introduced.

93.While recognizing current legal and other efforts by the State party to address violence against women, the Committee is concerned about the persisting prevalence of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence. It is particularly concerned that domestic violence deprives women of their personal security and their access to safe accommodation.

94. In the light of its general recommendation 19, the Committee urges the State party to place high priority on the introduction of comprehensive and holistic measures to address violence against women in the family and in society. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that such violence is prosecuted and punished with the required seriousness and speed, and that women victims of violence have immediate means of redress and protection, including protection orders. The Committee requests the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence. It recommends that measures be taken to provide shelters for women victims of violence in sufficient numbers and to 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. The Committee invites the State party to undertake awareness-raising measures through the media and public education programmes, including a campaign of zero tolerance, to make such violence socially and morally unacceptable.

95.The Committee is concerned that the current attitudes towards incest, as expressed, inter alia, in the light penalties for this crime, as well as the penalties for rape, give an impression to the community that these infringements of human rights are not serious crimes. The Committee is concerned that the definition of the crime of rape is based on the use of force, rather than lack of consent and that rape within marriage is not currently considered a specific crime.

96. The Committee urges the State party to review and strengthen the penalties for the crimes of incest and rape in order to emphasize that these crimes are serious violations of women’s human rights. The Committee urges the State party to define the crime of rape as sexual intercourse without consent and to explicitly address the crime of rape within marriage.

97.Recognizing the efforts made by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in women and girls, the Committee remains concerned about the prevalence of this problem. The Committee is concerned about reports that the Czech Republic has become a country of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls. It notes with concern that there is still not enough information on the subject.

98. The Committee urges the State party to continue its efforts to combat trafficking in women and girls and requests the State party to include in its next report comprehensive information and data on the issue and on progress made in this area. It recommends the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking in women and girls, including within the territory of the State party, which should include the prosecution and punishment of offenders and increased international regional and bilateral cooperation with other countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficked women and girls. It recommends the introduction of measures aimed at improving the economic situation of women so as to eliminate their vulnerability to traffickers, education initiatives for vulnerable groups, including teenage girls, and social support, rehabilitation and reintegration measures for women and girls who have been victims of trafficking. It calls on the Government to ensure that trafficked women and girls have the support they need so that they can provide testimony against their traffickers. It urges that training of border police and law enforcement officials provide them with the requisite skills to recognize victims of trafficking and to provide them with support.

99.While welcoming the high labour force participation rate of women and the legislative reforms in the area of employment, including the amendments to the Employment Act, the Labour Code, the Act on Wages and the Act on Salaries, the Committee expresses concern about the situation of women in the labour market, including women’s high unemployment rate as compared with that of men and the strong vertical and horizontal segregation and wage differentials between women and men. The Committee is concerned at the lack of enforcement mechanisms and thus at the lack of de facto enforcement of the equal opportunity standards which have been introduced by law.

100. The Committee urges the State party to ensure de facto equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market through, inter alia, use of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention. The Committee recommends that efforts be made to eliminate occupational segregation, horizontal and vertical, through, inter alia, education, training and retraining and enforcement mechanisms. It also recommends wage increases in female-dominated sectors of public employment to close the wage gap between these and male-dominated sectors. The Committee recommends that measures allowing for the reconciliation between family and professional responsibilities be strengthened and that the equal sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men be promoted. The Committee requests the State party to provide information in its next report on the implementation of the legislative reforms in the area of employment and the impact of such reforms, including an analysis of the efforts of the relevant monitoring bodies.

101.The Committee is concerned about the status of women’s health, especially their reproductive health. While recognizing the 60 per cent decrease in abortion since 1994 and the progressive increase in the use of intrauterine and hormonal contraceptives, the Committee is concerned that the current abortion rate may suggest that abortion is still being used as a means of birth control. It is also concerned that voluntary sterilization for women is permitted solely for health reasons. The Committee is concerned about the rate of consumption among women of prescribed sedative and barbiturate drugs.

102. The Committee draws attention to its general recommendation No. 24 on women and health and recommends the collection of data disaggregated by sex as well as comprehensive research into the specific health needs of women, including their reproductive health, the full implementation of a life-cycle approach to women’s health, the financial and organizational strengthening of family planning programmes, the provision of wide access to safe and affordable contraceptives for all women and men, and the lifting of the restrictions on voluntary sterilization. The Committee urges the State party to reinforce programmes of sexual and reproductive education for both girls and boys. The Committee calls on the State party to encourage responsible sexual behaviour and further discourage abortion as a means of birth control. The Committee requests more information on the prevalence of, and measures taken against, abuse of sedative and barbiturate drugs among women and on the mental health situation of women.

103.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of traditional stereotypes regarding the role and tasks of women and men in the family and in society at large.

104. The Committee urges the State party to design and implement comprehensive programmes in the educational system and to encourage the mass media to promote cultural changes with regard to the roles and responsibilities attributed to women and men, as required by article 5 of the Convention. It recommends that policies be developed and programmes implemented to ensure the eradication of traditional sex role stereotypes in the family, in employment, in politics and in society.

105.The Committee expresses concern about the lack of information in the report on Roma women.

106. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, information on the situation of Roma women as compared with non-Roma women and Roma men, especially as regards their health, educational and employment status.

107.The Committee expresses concern about the lack of information in the report on older women.

108. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next report, information on the situation of older women as compared with older men, especially as regards their health, educational and employment status, including social security benefits.

109. The Committee urges the State party to accept the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

110. Taking account of the gender dimension 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 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 these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.

111. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report to be submitted under article 18 of the Convention. It also requests that the report address the general recommendations of the Committee and provide information on the impact of legislation, policies and programmes to implement the Convention.

112. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in the Czech Republic of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of the Czech Republic, in particular government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women and the further steps required in this regard. It also 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 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

2.Third periodic report

Uganda

113.The Committee considered the third periodic report of Uganda (CEDAW/C/UGA/3) at its 575th and 576th meetings on 9 August 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.575 and 576).

(a)Introduction by the State party

114.In introducing the third report, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development indicated that her country had made significant progress in the 17 years since its ratification of the Convention in 1985, and that great strides had been taken towards the implementation of the provisions of the Convention despite some obstacles.

115.Since the last presentation, in February 1995, several measures had been taken to strengthen the legal and policy framework for implementation. The Government had adopted the National Gender Policy and formulated a National Action Plan on Women, which provided guidance on strategies and interventions for the empowerment of women. Measures had been taken to strengthen the legal framework, and proposed laws on domestic relations, sexual offences and employment were currently under consideration.

116.Through the affirmative action policy, the number of women in decision-making positions had risen from 17 per cent in 1994 to 39 per cent in 2002. Women now held key posts, including those of the Vice-President, Deputy Chief Justice, Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Inspector-General of Police. The representative also noted that civil society organizations had supported the Government’s affirmative action policy of strengthening women’s political participation through capacity-building programmes, including training in leadership skills.

117.Among the most important advances was the adoption of a new Constitution considered globally as one of the most gender-sensitive. The new Constitution, inter alia, emphasized respect for human rights and freedoms, affirmed the equality of all persons and obliged the State to institute affirmative action measures in favour of disadvantaged groups for purposes of redressing structural and social inequality.

118.As part of the Government’s commitment to social and economic development, a Poverty Eradication Action Plan containing mechanisms for eradicating absolute poverty by 2017, had been developed to ensure sustainable livelihoods for all Ugandans, including women. Gender mainstreaming was a guiding principle of the plan.

119.The Government had responded to the Committee’s call for the eradication of gender-based abuse and violence. Violations against women and children were now dealt with under the Penal Code Act. Family protection units had been established at police posts, and sensitization and awareness-raising measures had been introduced.

120.Through a multisectoral approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, prevalence rates had fallen to an average of 6.1 per cent in 2002 from 22 per cent 10 years before. Special attention had been given to awareness-raising, voluntary testing and counselling, and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

121.In compliance with commitments in the Beijing Platform for Action, a national machinery now oversaw gender mainstreaming and advancement of women initiatives, thereby facilitating the promotion of the status of women within the policy and institutional framework. The representative indicated that, although the national machinery had undergone structural and institutional changes, the goal of achieving women’s advancement and gender equality had been retained.

122.The Government had formulated a Universal Primary Education Programme to provide free education for all children in primary school, which had enabled 6.9 million children, 3.37 million of whom were female, to enrol in school by 2001. The strategy emphasized the provision of adequate facilities to meet the needs of the girl child and children with disabilities.

123.Despite achievements made in the past few years to promote gender equality and the advancement of women, obstacles still existed. Challenges faced by the Government included, inter alia, poverty, lack of sex-disaggregated data, gender-specific information for informed policy and programme formulation, and the persistence of traditional attitudes and practices. Despite these challenges, the Government remained committed to meeting its international obligations, including the implementation of all of the provisions of the Convention.

(b)Concluding comments of the Committee

Introduction

124.The Committee commends the State party for its third periodic report, which was prepared in accordance with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It also commends the State party for the comprehensive written replies to the questions of the Committee’s pre-session working group. The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation headed by the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda and expresses appreciation for the oral presentation, which provided additional information on the implementation of the Convention and the current situation of women in Uganda.

Positive aspects

125.The Committee commends the State party for the promulgation in 1995 of a new Constitution, which incorporates a gender-sensitive approach to the definition of discrimination on the grounds of sex, in harmony with the Convention.

126.The Committee commends the State party for the measures taken to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and notes with satisfaction the decrease in HIV/AIDS prevalence rates from 22 per cent in 1992 to an average of 6.1 per cent in 2002.

127.The Committee welcomes the adoption of the 1997 National Gender Policy and the formulation of the National Action Plan on Women in 1999, which provide guidelines for the development of strategies and interventions for the empowerment of women. It also welcomes the adoption of the affirmative action policy, resulting in an increase in women’s representation in decision-making positions from 16.9 per cent in 1994 to 39 per cent in 2002. The Committee welcomes the fact that women occupy a number of key high-level positions.

128.The Committee commends the State party for formulating and implementing the Universal Primary Education Programme, which facilitated the enrolment of 3.3 million girls in school by 2001. It also welcomes the application of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention to increase the population of women students in tertiary education and the Functional Adult Literary Programme, which has particularly benefited women.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

129.The Committee is concerned that, despite the adoption of its gender-sensitive Constitution in 1995, legislative provisions that discriminate against women continue to exist. It is also concerned that, although progress has been made towards the preparation of legislation to eliminate discrimination, much of this has not been enacted. It is particularly concerned at the slow progress in removing de jure discrimination and preventing and eliminating de facto discrimination against women.

130. The Committee recommends that the State party accelerate its law reform process to harmonize its domestic legislation with its constitutional principles relating to non-discrimination and equality between women and men. It recommends the speedy enactment of the draft Land Act, the Domestic Relations Bill and the Sexual Offences Bill. The Committee further recommends that the State party introduce public education and legal literacy campaigns relating to the Convention and the Constitution to raise awareness of the State party’s international and national commitments on the elimination of discrimination against women.

131.The Committee is concerned that, although laws and customs which contravene the constitutio