GENEVA (30 May 2012) – The United Nations working group on discrimination against women in law and in practice today urged* the Government of Moldova to implement coherently the country’s non-discrimination legislation to further support progress on achieving equality between men and women, and the protection and promotion of women’s human rights.
“We call on the Moldovan authorities to strengthen institutional and financial mechanisms to ensure coherent and effective implementation of the legal framework on equality between men and women,” said Kamala Chandrakirana, who currently heads the expert group, while recognizing significant progress in legislation addressing the areas of equal opportunities, preventing and combating family violence and sexual harassment at work.
The Group’s delegation, which also includes Eleonora Zielinska, “found obstacles to the enforcement of legislation which have undermined women’s access to full judicial recourse and remedies, particularly in the area of violence within the home, the community and trafficking.” Noting a “gender bias in the way rape and other sexual offences are investigated and prosecuted,” the experts urged the authorities to promptly address these critical gaps in implementation of the law.
“In light of Moldova’s economic situation, it is regrettable that discriminatory practices continue to be perpetuated and impede women’s full and equal participation in the labour market,” Ms. Chandrakirana said. In her view, these practices undermine Moldova’s capacity to achieve its development goals, including its stated Millennium Development Goals.
The experts drew attention to “employers’ preferences for hiring women without family responsibilities and under the age of 45; the existence of a de facto wage gap between men and women; an over-concentration of women employed in sectors associated with gender stereotypes, such as education, healthcare and social assistance, which are also the lowest paying sectors.” They also noted cases of unfair dismissal linked to pregnancy, including in the police force. The experts urged the Government to conduct gender-sensitive periodic monitoring and review of the situation of Moldova’s workers, inside and outside the country.
“Special measures should be taken to overcome the under-representation of women in decision-making positions at all levels, including the regional, district and local levels,” said Ms. Chandrakirana, warning that Moldovan women active in political and public life face stigmatization and discrimination based on gender stereotypes. “These discrepancies are discriminatory in practice, and measures should be taken to address them.”
The delegation heard repeated references to patriarchal attitudes which negatively impact on women’s image, status and equal opportunities. “We encourage the Government to take concrete steps to increase public awareness and support for equality between women and men in all aspects of life, including by increasing public understanding of the Constitutional guarantees on the separation between church and state,” they said.
The rights experts also noted a major void in the national human rights mechanisms to address violations of women’s rights, and stressed that “women who face multiple forms of discrimination – such as women members of religious minority groups, women with disabilities, women who are lesbian, bisexual and transgender, Roma women, migrant women – require an effective mechanism to monitor their situation.”
“Women human rights defenders, including activists, women journalists who are conducting investigative journalism, women lawyers, and women providers of services for victims of violence and trafficking are subject to threats and intimidation,” Ms. Chandrakirana warned. “The new draft on Moldova’s national human rights institution should address this serious gap and designate an ombudsperson responsible for women’s human rights.”
During its ten-day mission, from 21 to 30 May, the delegation visited Chisinau, Gagauzia, Balti and Causeni, where they met with Government officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, the national human rights institution, civil society organizations, religious institutions as well as grassroots women of the Roma community. They also held discussions in Tiraspol.
The Working Group will present its final conclusions and recommendations stemming from its visit in its report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.
The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice is composed of five independent experts from all regions of the world: Kamala Chandrakirana, Chair-Rapporteur (Indonesia); Emna Aouij (Tunisia); Mercedes Barquet (México); Frances Raday (Israel/United Kingdom) and Eleonora Zielinska (Poland). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12197&LangID=E
UN Human Rights, country page – Republic of Moldova: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/MDIndex.aspx
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