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Canada: UN expert praises new bill recognising rights of Indigenous women

28 August 2019

GENEVA (28 August 2019) - The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Simonovic, welcomes the Canadian Government’s introduction of a bill which removes sexual discrimination from a federal law dealing with Indigenous peoples.

Prior to the entry into force of the S-3 Bill on 15 August 2019, provisions within the Indian Act meant women lost their status when they married non-Indigenous men, while men who married non-Indigenous women kept their status.

During a visit to Canada in April 2018, Simonovic urged the Government to urgently repeal all remaining discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act and any other discriminatory national laws and practices against Indigenous women and girls.

“For decades, First Nations women and their descendants have faced sex-based discrimination that has been perpetuated by these provisions, constituting a violation of international and national gender equality standards,” said the UN expert.

“The removal of the sex-based hierarchy entrenched in the Indian Actis a pivotal step toward achieving gender equality, and finally brings to an end the long story of discrimination and violence that Indigenous women and girls have faced in the country.”

Simonovic praised the tireless work of civil society organisations who have advocated for decades to withdraw all the discriminatory provisions included in the Indian Act.


Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights. 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms Sara Cavallo (+41 22 917 9553 / [email protected] or [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] 

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts. 

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