The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has considered the fifth periodic report of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and the Netherlands Aruba on how they are implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Introducing the report of the Netherlands, Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, said since the last report significant progress had been made regarding the elimination of discrimination against women. The Government had invested heavily in measures aimed at creating opportunities for combining paid work with caring for children and large investments had been made in childcare, among others. Nevertheless, there was still a long way to go in several regards, including in the field of labour participation of women and safety of women.
Introducing the report of the Netherlands Antilles, Omayra Leeflang, Minister of Public Health and Social Development/Minister of Education of the Netherlands Antilles, said that the Government was duly aware of its obligations under the Convention and had sought to implement, to the best of its abilities, its provisions. Despite significant difficulties, progress had been made on a number of issues, including Parliament’s acceptance of a law protecting children against pornography, prostitution and sexual abuse; the appointment of a public prosecutor on domestic violence; and the development of new legislation dealing specifically with human trafficking.
Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar, Minister of Economic Affairs, Social Affairs and Culture of the Netherlands Aruba, introducing the report of the Netherlands Aruba, said that although progress in some fields had not been what the Government had hoped for, achievements had been made, including the past elections during which women had played an important role. Nevertheless, much still needed to be done, particularly regarding the empowerment of specific groups that required particular attention, and the Government therefore intended to work on a more integrated and coordinated approach.
Questions and issues raised by Experts during the interactive discussion included, on the Netherlands specifically, whether all provisions of the Convention were reflected in internal legislation; whether a gender impact assessment had been conducted before the new Prostitution Bill had been submitted to Parliament; whether multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary teams were in place to assist work with victims of human trafficking; what policies were in place to combat gender stereotypes; and whether the budgets allocated to the Netherlands Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles for the implementation of the Convention were identical to that in the Netherlands. The Dutch delegation was also asked to comment on the reportedly weak coordination at central level of the Government; on allegations that non-governmental organizations received insufficient funding; and to provide more information regarding the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
On the Netherlands Aruba, Committee Members wished to know whether more information was available on the domestic violence offender’s programme; on women prostitutes working outside employment regulations; and whether the witness protection law was applied in cases where victims were unwilling to cooperate with local authorities.
With respect to the Netherlands Antilles, Experts wished to know, among others, what the impact had been of the training that had been provided to police officers and other agents, and whether that was an ongoing activity and whether there was any policy to secure the concerned women’s rights and safety in an integrated manner for the different islands. It was also regrettable that the report contained very limited information regarding violence against women.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Dijksma, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, said in lieu of oral concluding remarks the delegation wished to show a short film to the Committee.
Also in some concluding observations, Naela Gabr, Committee Chairperson, said she thanked the State party for its high-level delegations. The Committee hoped that the Netherlands continued in the same path. Much was expected from the Netherlands as it was very engaged in advocating not only human rights but also the rights of women more specifically. Further, the fact that 10 per cent of the people under the Dutch jurisdiction were migrants placed an obligation on the Government to undertake all necessary measures to pay particular attention to their rights. Moreover, while women were significantly represented in public administration and related senior positions, it was nevertheless hoped that this positive trend would continue.
The delegation of the Netherlands also included representatives of the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations; the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport; the Ministry for Youth and Families; and the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands in Geneva. The delegation of the Netherlands Antilles included representatives of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development; the Office of the Public Prosecutor; the Directorate of Labour Affairs; the Directorate of Education; the Directorate of Foreign Relations; the Women’s Affairs Desk Curacao and Sint Maarten; and the Social Insurance Bank. The delegation of the Netherlands Aruba included representatives of the Ministry of Economic, Social and Cultural Affairs; the Ministry of Social Affairs; and the Council of Ministers.
The next meeting of the Committee will be on Thursday, 28 January 2010, at 10 a.m., when it is scheduled to consider the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Egypt (CEDAW/C/EGY/7).
Report of the Netherlands
The fifth periodic report of the Netherlands (CEDAW/C/NLD/5), which covers the period from 2005 to 2008, notes that the Netherlands was the first country to install an independent National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking. Furthermore, in 2004, the Dutch Government prepared a first National Human Trafficking Action Plan, in which policy in the area of human trafficking is implemented in an integrated, multidisciplinary manner, and new legislation on trafficking in human beings was implemented in 2005. As for domestic violence, the 35 regional authorities for women’s shelters have set up a domestic violence advisory and support desk. A national public education campaign against domestic violence was launched in 2007, inter alia, introducing a national hotline and a special website, and the Government has introduced separate legislation to allow temporary restraining orders to be imposed on perpetrators of domestic violence where there is an acute danger to the victim and any children involved. Following a recommendation by the Women’s Committee, victims of sexual and violent crimes have also been able to get free legal assistance from a specialist lawyer irrespective of their economic situation since 1 April 2006 and, in 2007, the Social Support Act, including a policy for combating domestic violence, came into effect.
A first addendum to the report (CEDAW/C/NLD/5/Add.1), prepared by the intergovernmental Aruban Human Rights Committee, and covering the period from 2005 to 2008 for Netherlands Aruba, notes, with regard to women’s employment, that a reintegration project was launched in 2004 by the Social Affairs Department. The project, most of whose participants (90 per cent) are female, organizes workshops and mediates with employers with the intention of helping benefit claimants find work. Aruban law has also been changed to codify the right to pregnancy and maternity leave, and the Civil Code was amended to include a provision nullifying any clause distinguishing between men and women in a number of areas, including entering into an employment contract and employment terms and conditions. In the education sphere, the Government of Aruba is striving to prevent stereotyping and to encourage emancipatory education in all curricula, from nursery level to secondary vocational education. Boys and girls both attend classes on these subjects. Aruba has developed its own teaching material for each of these courses so that the content is appropriate for the Aruban context and ties in as closely as possible with the pupils’ perception of their environment.
A second addendum to the report of the Netherlands (CEDAW/C/NLD/5/Add.2), covering the period from 2005 to 2008 for Netherlands Antilles, notes that the Netherlands Antilles continues to take steps aimed at combating domestic violence. In 2006, police were provided training on effective intervention in domestic violence cases, and several other groups and organizations have received training and/or are developing a structured programme to tackle domestic violence and child abuse. In addition, an interministerial working group on domestic violence was established in 2007, coordinated by the Social Development Department and including the Judicial Affairs Department and the Youth Affairs Department. With regard to discrimination, several amendments have been made to the Antillean Civil Code and the new Code defines both indirect and direct discrimination, and sets out exceptions to the equal treatment rule – the preferential treatment of female workers, or positive gender discrimination. Together, these provisions assure the legal protection of female workers. The case law on which gender equality has long been based will thus finally be codified, and a new draft Ordinance on Equal Treatment was drawn up in 2006.
Presentation of Report
SHARON DIJKSMA, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, introducing the report of the Netherlands, said that since the last report significant progress had been made regarding the elimination of discrimination against women and the current cabinet had implemented several measures that robustly stimulated emancipation. Not providing lip service to, but rather bolstering emancipation, was the aim of the Government. The Government had invested heavily in measures aimed at creating opportunities for combining paid work with caring for children. Paid parental leave for both partners had increased from 13 to 26 weeks, and large investments had been made in childcare, adding an extra annual ª1 billion to the existing budget of ª2 billion. Nevertheless, there was still a long way to go in the field of labour participation of women, as indicated, inter alia, by the fact that only 45 per cent of the female workforce was economically independent. The Government had also taken important steps regarding the safety of women, including the Temporary Restraining Order Act that had entered into force last year; an obligatory reporting code on domestic violence and child abuse that was currently in preparation and also covered situations of honour-related violence and female genital mutilation; increased maximum sentences for perpetrators of trafficking in human beings; and the vulnerable position of lesbian women. The Government set great store by the social acceptance of lesbian women.
OMAYRA LEEFLANG, Minister of Public Health and Social Development/Minister of Education of the Netherlands Antilles, observed that this was the last time that the Netherlands Antilles would address the Committee as a country comprising five islands within the Netherlands because, as of 10 October 2010, the Netherlands Antilles would cease to exist and Curacao and Sint Maarten would become separate countries within the Netherlands. Although the constitutional reform had therefore received most of the Government’s attention, the Netherlands Antilles Government was duly aware of its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and had sought to implement, to the best of its abilities, its provisions. While the Netherlands Antilles regrettably encountered difficulties that had hindered a speedier implementation of the Convention’s provisions, progress had been made on a number of issues. For example, Parliament had accepted a law protecting children against pornography, prostitution and sexual abuse; a public prosecutor on domestic violence had been appointed; sickness insurance for prisoners had been regulated; and the Commission on Maternity Protection had presented a draft Ordinance on Maternity Protection. Moreover, while there was no separate article on trafficking in persons hitherto, new legislation dealing specifically with human trafficking had been developed and sent as a separate piece of legislation to the Advisory Council. Once that legislation was passed by Parliament, the Netherlands Antilles would be able to ratify the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, among others.
MICHELLE HOOYBOER-WINKLAAR, Minister of Economic Affairs, Social Affairs and Culture of the Netherlands Aruba, said that progress regarding national gender policy had not been what the Government had hoped for. However, that did not mean that women in Aruba had not made progress in other fields over the recent decade. In fact, since the last report, elections had been held with women playing an important role in the electoral process and its outcome. Women were also represented in Parliament, where they held 7 of 21 seats and they accounted for over 40 per cent of senior officials at the legislative level. Nevertheless, much still needed to be done, particularly regarding the empowerment, promotion and protection of the rights of specific groups that required particular attention. Therefore, the Government intended to work on a more integrated and coordinated approach to tackle such problems and to ensure equal opportunities for all women. For example, a more comprehensive strategy to combat violence against women would be devised in 2010; the Government would continue to support and work with the Foundation for Women in Distress; and efforts were under way so that education and the media could play a bigger role in diminishing negative stereotypes and allowing the subject of gender discrimination to be discussed openly and honestly in the Netherlands Aruba.
Questions by Experts
In a first round of questions and comments, Experts asked, among other things, whether the delegations could clarify the application of the Optional Protocol to the Convention in general and with regard to the right to appeal in particular; and whether the legislation was fully consolidated at the present time and all provisions of the Convention reflected in internal legislation. In particular, delegations were asked to comment on the reportedly weak coordination at central level of the Government, elaborating on the functioning of collaboration mechanisms among the three Governments as they applied to women’s rights in general, and as they applied to monitoring failings in this field in particular. Were there policies ensuring uniformity of the application of the Convention in place? Committee members further wished to know whether the Governments upheld the views of the Committee as contained in the Committee’s previous concluding recommendations; whether the delegations could comment on shadow reports of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) according to which NGOs did not receive appropriate funding; information on plans to upgrade the existing women’s desks to the level of political autonomy; and what had the Netherlands had done to live up to the obligations resulting from article 3 of the Convention (obligation to ensure the full development and advancement of women, so they can exercise and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men)?
Response by Delegation
Responding, the delegation of the Netherlands said, regarding the question on de facto gender equality in the Netherlands, that several articles of the Constitution provided for that. As to coordination among the different Governments, it was important to recognize that the three delegations present today represented three different countries, each of which proceeded with some difference in their internal affairs. There was, however, sound and best possible collaboration among them.
The Dutch delegation said that the Netherlands had a policy in place on assistance to NGOs. While evidently some subsidies had been stopped and others had been renewed, overall there was significant funding to civil society organizations. For example, more than half of the over 50 NGOs that had subscribed to the shadow report received multi-annual or institutional funding from the Government. New subsidies were also given to a women’s platform in the Netherlands and the Women’s Council in the Netherlands, among others. In the Antilles, some NGOs were subsidized by the Government to implement particular activities. By contrast, in Aruba, NGOs did not receive funding on a project-basis, but they could apply for annual subsidies, and there was in fact room for a more integrated approach regarding collaboration between the Government and civil society organizations.
On the question on the application of the Optional Protocol to the Convention in general, and with regard to the right to appeal in particular, the Dutch delegation said that the Netherlands had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention and in fact took the resulting obligations very seriously, including the right to appeal, which had been repeatedly used in the past. The Dutch delegation further assured the Committee that the Government had a very high estimation of United Nations Committees, including the Women’s Committee, and had undertaken all possible efforts to implement the concluding recommendations, as appropriate. As for equality, it was difficult to treat everybody on the same grounds as that in fact created inequality, as highlighted by the example of disabled persons.
Questions by Experts
In a second round of questions and comments, Experts asked, among other things, for more information on positive discrimination regarding women; whether temporary special measures had been taken for the protection of ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups, such as refugees; what policies were in place to combat gender stereotypes, and what role education played in that area; and what measures the Governments had taken to eliminate all de facto inequalities, as for example those faced by black women. With regard to trafficking, Experts wondered if multisectoral and multidisciplinary teams were in place to assist in the identification of victims of human trafficking. Experts further asked for more information regarding the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and whether the Criminal Procedural Law required psychologists to be present during questioning of victims of trafficking of persons.
Committee Members additionally hoped that the rights of older women and women with special needs would be particularly observed, bearing in mind article 6 of the Convention; that further efforts were made regarding family reunifications; and that the Governments took temporary special measures to protect women suffering from multiple discrimination.
With specific regard to the Netherlands, Experts asked whether NGOs had been consulted in the elaboration of the new Prostitution Bill and what had been done regarding exit programmes for women involved in prostitution. They also raised concerns about the impact if the Aliens Act of 2009 on women victims of violence and that female genital mutilation should be dealt with in a way that would prevent that issue from being driven underground.
On the Netherlands Aruba, Committee Members wished to know more about the domestic violence offender’s programme, including how many offenders had benefited from it; whether information could be provided on women prostitutes working outside employment regulations; and whether the witness protection law was applied in cases where victims were unwilling to cooperate with local authorities.
With respect to the Netherlands Antilles, Experts asked what the impact had been of the training that had been provided to police officers and other agents, and whether that was an ongoing activity; and - as regulation on prostitution in different islands varied significantly – whether there was any policy to secure the concerned women’s rights and safety in an integrated manner.
Regarding the situation in both the Netherlands Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, Committee members noted that it was regrettable that the reports contained very limited information regarding violence against women and it was recommended that in the forthcoming reports disaggregated data on violence against women should be given.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these and other questions, with regard to a government policy of positive discrimination towards women, the Dutch delegation said that that policy was visible in several regards. For example, when job candidates with equal qualifications were considered, women from ethnic minorities were given preference and some political parties had quotas for party participation. Concerning stereotypes, there was not only education policy regarding primary schools but also at university level, for example in order to encourage women to complete technical degrees. There were also programmes targeting issues relating to stereotypes that were budgeted with approximately ª60 million.
As for the new Prostitution Bill, the Dutch Government did not agree with the position that had been expressed by NGOs on the effects that Bill, since a large group of prostitutes were invisible as they worked at home and were thus very difficult to reach. Nevertheless, municipalities attempted to inform prostitutes on measures to be taken in case of abuse.
Responding to questions on trafficking in human beings, the Dutch delegation said that the law did in fact cover trafficking in organs. Experts other than police officers were often involved in the process of identification of victims of trafficking, although the primary responsibility remained with the police. As to the humanitarian residence permit, the possibility to apply for such a permit was provided without any discrimination, including for undocumented women.
The Senate had recently approved the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and that Convention would enter into force on 1 July 2010. As for the position of ethnic minorities, while ethnic minorities were represented in the public administration, among others, the delegation agreed with the Committee that that issue should be given more emphasis.
The delegation of the Netherlands Antilles, responding to the question on violence against women, said that statistical information on the number of perpetrators, among others, would be made available to the Committee and included in the next report in the manner suggested by the Committee. As for prostitution, it would take time to develop specific and sound policies in the Antilles, but the Government agreed that that was a necessity for the future.
The delegation of the Netherlands Aruba noted that the information requested by the Committee on violence against women had not been available at the time the report had been prepared. Those figures would, however, be provided in the next report. As to the offenders programme, that could be mandatory for offenders and there was in fact a follow-up which was governed by the Rehabilitation Department. As to trafficking in persons, there was a special unit within the police.
Questions by Experts
In follow-up questions, Experts asked, among other things, whether the Convention was directly applicable and had been directly used by courts; whether a gender impact assessment had been conducted before the new Prostitution Bill had been submitted to Parliament; what had been the results of the implementation of the 2006-2010 policy plan; and had the witness protection law ever been used to assist victims. Other issues included how the Government worked with countries of origin in cases of human trafficking; what were the Dutch Government’s priority topics in the field of women and peace; were the budgets allocated to the Netherlands Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles for the implementation of the Convention identical to that in the Netherlands; and what policies and programmes existed for the benefit of migrant women, in particular to tackle negative stereotypes against them and to include them in the public administration.
Response by the Delegation
Responding, the delegation of the Netherlands said, with regard to the subsidies for the implementation of the Convention, that further information on that issue could be provided in a few weeks’ time. As to whether a gender impact assessment had been conducted before the new Prostitution Bill had been submitted to Parliament, all Government departments had the obligation to consider gender aspects when developing new legislative articles and a specific memorandum of the Cabinet called attention to gender aspects.
Concerning women and peace, among the key priorities for the Dutch Government were issues relating to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and the training of armed forces. As for the situation of migrant women in the labour market, there were effective policies in that respect, and that issue was also included in ongoing initiatives aimed at tackling stereotypes.
The delegation of the Netherlands Aruba said that several international conventions were directly applicable in it, as highlighted by recent cases. Judges were, however, more likely to use the European Convention rather than the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
As to the question on interpretative declarations on the Convention, the Netherlands did not have any such declarations, the delegation said. Concerning female genital mutilation, this was an abominable crime that was punishable by up to 12 years under Dutch legislation, even if carried out abroad. A declaration was underway in which parents could declare that they would not subject their children to female genital-mutilation abroad. As to special temporary measures, the Government had undertaken several actions in this regard. Further, there were various attempts to increase the percentage of female professors and the programme 1001 Strength offered minority women the opportunity to show their talent. As for the collaboration with source countries of trafficking towards the Netherlands, the Dutch Government collaborated with such countries and provided large-scale assistance to technical projects in the source countries.
With regards to the request for further information on new regulations in public procurement, the Netherlands was one of the countries that had initiated the discussion on this issue. The Government had committed itself to providing 100 per cent sustainable procurement, which included aspects of gender equality. As to the victim protection programme, victims received protection as necessary. On targets not reached under the programme dealing with gender in the labour market, the delegation said that there had been stagnation at the beginning of the period but the recent years had seen a fast increase in this regard, bringing the Netherlands very close to reaching the targeted participation of women in the labour market.
The delegation of the Netherlands Antilles said, with regard to the question of resources for the implementation of the Convention, that the Netherlands had been very generous toward the Netherlands Antilles and partially relieved it from its debts, giving the Government much space for social issues. With that space, the Netherlands Antilles hoped to be able to comply with all regulations of the relevant treaties.
The delegation of the Netherlands Aruba, responding to the question on whether resources were fairly allocated in comparison to the Netherlands, said that the Netherlands Aruba had its own budget.
Questions by Experts
In a further round of questions and comments directed at the Netherlands specifically, Committee Members asked why the target to achieve equal representation in politically elected bodies had been dropped and why women accounted for less than 20 per cent of ambassadors. Committee Members also noted that increasing the number of women in the security and defence sectors could reduce issues of violence and thus requested information on any potential measures that the Government had implemented to increase the number of women in these sectors.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these and other questions, the delegation of the Netherlands said that women made up over 40 per cent of Parliament; the junior Ministerial level was made up of a majority of women; and there were many women on local mayor level, among others. While one could hope for more ambitious numbers, it needed to be kept in mind that objectives needed to remain realistic. On the number of women working on security issues, the Government shared the Committee’s opinion and the Ministry of Defence therefore led a significant programme aimed at increasing the number of women in the army. As for the question on the representation of women in diplomatic posts, the currently observed balance certainly had its roots in the past, the delegation added.
Questions by Experts
In a further round of questions and comments, Experts noted that although the delegation of the Netherlands asserted that gender segregation was diminishing, the Committee had received information that suggested the opposite – could the delegation comment on this? Further, what was the situation regarding vocational education and training, and what measures were in place to help drop-outs. In view of the small proportion of women professors in the education system, when would the target of 25 per cent, as proposed by the European Union, be attained, Committee Members further asked, also enquiring whether the Government planned any serious measures to tackle the issue of the huge share of part-time working women, which was of great concern. Also, could more information be provided on the steps taken to remedy the pay gap among men and women – it seemed that serious efforts to bridge the pay gap were lacking. Was the Government reviewing the exclusion of a large group of domestic workers from social protection and security law? Experts also wished to know what the Government had been doing regarding the working conditions for women who worked from home; what kind of insurance this group was entitled to; what measures were in place to enhance the participation in all aspects of economic life of women belonging to non-dominant groups; and whether the Government took measures to promote equality within companies.
Concerning issues related to health, Committee Members requested more information regarding the impact of Government budget cuts on health services and on the resulting impact on women; on policies aimed at helping women with HIV/AIDS; and explanations for the poor health of women of ethnic minorities. Also, the Committee Members requested clarification on the health situation of lesbian women and transgenders. Further, since pregnant women who travelled through airports and were suspected of drug trafficking were at times locked for several days as they could not be body-scanned, Committee Members wished to know why equipment as echo-systems were not used to allow pregnant women avoiding both the risks of radiation and being locked for longer periods of time. Moreover, there was no specific information on to what extent badly affected minorities had access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services. Experts further wished to know what measures the Government took to improve the quality of life of aged rural women who felt lonely because of their limited mobility due to lacking public transport - was there any legal assistance helping rural victims of family violence?
On the Netherlands Antilles, were there specific vulnerable groups that were over-represented among drop-outs, and what results did the current measures have?
As for the Netherlands Aruba, Experts said that more details on the issues related to article 10 needed to be collected and presented in the forthcoming report in a sex-disaggregated manner. As for HIV/AIDS, despite a request made at the occasion of the presentation of the last report, the current report provided insufficient information in this regard.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these and other questions, the Dutch delegation said that it had yesterday been announced that there were 4,000 less child drop-outs this year as compared to last year, which was a significant step in the right direction. As to the health of women belonging to ethnic minorities, it was unfortunately a fact that poor people’s health was often worse than that of others. To tackle this health deficit, the Government attempted to better monitor the health of the population, particularly that of particular neighbourhoods, among other measures. Concerning pregnant women who were suspected of drug-trafficking at airports, the echo was not a viable alternative to locking suspects as its reliability was insufficient. Pregnant women would therefore also be detained in the future, although of course only in cases where there were well-founded suspicions. The delegation also said that data on HIV/AIDS, as well as the Government’s work in this regard, was available and would be included in the next report. Concerning elderly women in the countryside, public transport was available and financially accessible. While isolation of elderly people was in fact an important issue, public transport was not among the main causes of this problem, in the view of the delegation. On legal assistance provided to rural victims of family violence, the delegation said that the rural population did not suffer from this problem more than the urban population, and that the Government closely monitored this situation.
On the health problems of lesbians, the delegation said that they would look into the outcomes of research and commission more in-depth research. With regard to transgenders, a draft for legislation for abolishing the sterilization requirement was under preparation.
As to the situation of women in the labour market, the delegation said with regard to the equal pay day that this had been very successfully organized hitherto. However, it had been decided that the next such event needed to be better organized which led to the cancellation of this event for this year. On the large part of women working on a part-time basis, the delegation said that there was in fact a need for more women working more hours and this was taken very seriously by the Government. However, there were also significant requests from women wishing to stay at home for family life, and there should be free choice in this regard.
On concrete measures to reduce the salary gap between men and women, the observed salary was among others caused by the fact that many women worked in low-income sectors and that they were often employed on a part-time basis. The Dutch Government was however working with many interested companies to develop sound charters in this regard. As for the question on home-workers, these were also entitled to social security insurance. On the request for disaggregated figures on income, the delegation assured the Committee that this would be included in the next report. Further, initiatives to facilitate women’s accession to professor positions were underway; today, women accounted for 12 per cent of professors and increasing this to 15 per cent remained the objective.
Also responding to the questions put to it, the delegation of the Netherlands Antilles said that the situation of drop-outs and absenteeism was in fact an issue and was monitored on a monthly and yearly basis. Information on this would be provided in the next report. As to the question on university enrolment of women compared to that of men, the delegation said that - with exception of technical faculties - women accounted for a greater percentage of university enrolees than men. As to the health situation, it was very challenging to effectively combat the HIV/AIDS situation, which was typical of Caribbean countries.
The delegation of the Netherlands Aruba said that the Government did everything in its power to ensure that the draft legislation on compulsory education would be passed as soon as possible. As to the data on HIV/AIDS, this had not been available at the time the report had been prepared; it was however available now and would be shared with the Members of the Committee.
Questions by Experts
In a further round of questions, Experts asked what measures were in place to help divorced women in terms of the economic consequences of the divorce; whether there were mechanisms to balance the unequal economic prosperity between former partners; and whether there were measures in place to guarantee that the new parenthood plan was not abused by one of the former partners. Experts further wished to know what the Government had been undertaking to appropriately monitor and tackle issues of women’s rights that were related to growing communities of immigrants in the Netherlands, such as private Sharia courts. On the Netherlands Antilles, was the law on the names of children already published?
Response by the Delegation
Responding to the question relating to the balancing of the potential unequal economic prosperity between former partners in marriage, the Dutch delegation said that the level of income of both partners was always appropriately taken into account and was an issue of core negotiation in divorce situations. As to what the Government had been undertaking on issues such as private Sharia courts, the Netherlands did not accept this and took appropriate measures whenever it learned of such instances.
The delegation of the Netherlands Antilles also said that authorities were very committed that the law on the names of children entered into force on 10 October 2010 at the latest.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Dijksma, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, said that in lieu of oral concluding remarks the delegation wished to show a short film to the Committee.
Also in some concluding observations, NAELA GABR, Committee Chairperson, said she thanked the State party for its high-level delegations. The Committee hoped that the Netherlands continued in the same path and said that much was expected from the Netherlands as it was very engaged in advocating not only human rights but also the rights of women more specifically. Further, the fact that 10 per cent of the people under the Dutch jurisdiction were migrants placed an obligation on the Government to undertake all necessary measures to pay particular attention to their rights. Moreover, while women were significantly represented in public administration and related senior positions, it was nevertheless hoped that this positive trend would continue.
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