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Statements Special Procedures
30 May 2012
CHISINAU, 30 May 2012 – Since its independence and in the past decade, Moldova has made significant progress in creating the legal framework for equality between men and women, including the 2006 law on ensuring equal opportunities between men and women, the 2007 law on preventing and combating family violence, and several amendments to the penal and labor codes, including on sexual harassment. After ratifying the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1993 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1994, Moldova ratified CEDAW’s Optional Protocol in 2006. These advances are integral to Moldova’s overall efforts of reform and in line with its commitment to economic growth and poverty reduction.
The UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, represented by Kamala Chandrakirana and Eleonora Zielinska, focused its mission on Moldova’s legal framework and the implementation of key laws, as well as on women’s participation in political and public life and on the specific vulnerabilities of women facing multiple forms of discrimination. During its ten-day mission, the delegation engaged in constructive dialogues in Chisinau, Gagauzia, Balti, and Causeni 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. The Working Group also held discussions in Tiraspol.
The Working Group commends Moldova on its commitment to the constant improvement of its laws and takes note of recent important developments in jurisprudence on discrimination against women. The Working Group appreciates the comprehensive review of the 2006 law on ensuring equal opportunities between men and women but also emphasizes the need to ensure coherence in the overall legal framework on non-discrimination in accordance with international standards. Coherent implementation of laws can already proceed while further legal amendments are being considered. The Working Group urges strengthening of institutional and financial mechanisms to ensure coherent and effective implementation of the legal framework on equality between men and women.
The Law on Ensuring Equality, adopted during the period of the Working Group’s mission, itself contains a contradiction in its purpose and scope, particularly with regard to the exceptions on family, adoption relations and religious cults. Such exceptions may establish critical gaps in legal protection. The Working Group regrets the last minute exclusion of four grounds of discrimination, namely health status, wealth, social origin and sexual orientation, after a highly politicized and homophobic public discourse on sexual orientation. It urges the swift creation of the Council to Prevent and Combat Discrimination, and rapid attention to the development of jurisprudence to ensure protection for all in full conformity with international law.
The Working Group 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. It is concerned about delays in issuing protective orders and in notifying the offenders of such orders; the current impossibility for police officers to issue immediate, short-term protection orders; and reports that the administrative sanctions on perpetrators breaching these orders are usually paid from the family budget or by the victim herself. The Working Group was made aware of gender bias in the way rape and other sexual offences are investigated and prosecuted. The 2008 Methodological Guidance on the Investigation of Sexual Crimes issued by the Office of the Prosecutor General is indicative of the lack of uniform practice regarding the protection of women victims of violence from re-victimization. The Working Group calls on the Government 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. These practices also undermine Moldova’s capacity to achieve its development goals, including its stated Millennium Development Goals. The Working Group has noted 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. The Working Group also heard of cases of unfair dismissal linked to pregnancy, including in the police force, some of which are now being adjudicated in court. Failing to find decent jobs in the country, more and more women are seeking employment abroad and contributing to the economy through remittances. With approximately 30% of Moldova’s GDP originating from remittances, the time has come for the Government to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers. The Working Group urges the Government to conduct gender-sensitive periodic monitoring and review of the situation of Moldova’s workers, inside and outside the country. It should also establish mechanisms to address all discriminatory practices in the labour market, including the wage gap between men and women.
Moldova’s National Decentralization Strategy creates a new momentum for increasing women’s participation in political and public life. The newly defined competencies and allocation of resources to local government increase the potential for more responsive local policies and accountable local authorities. 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. Plans to amend the Electoral Code to provide a minimum quota of 30% of women in political party lists and to create financial incentives for political parties which support women into elected positions need immediate implementation, in time for the next local elections. The Working Group has met women mayors who are top performers and highly-trusted leaders of their community. They are role models of women’s political leadership and should be given opportunities to fill top decision-making positions in the newly-empowered local authorities.
The Working Group was informed of efforts by regional authorities to establish a regulatory framework to improve women’s access to redress and services. In Gagauzia, there is a draft regulation on the protection of family, maternity, paternity and childhood, and in Transnistria a draft regulation on domestic violence is being discussed. The Working Group calls for acceleration in the finalization of these ordinances and establishment of the necessary implementation instruments.
The Working Group notes that Moldovan women active in political and public life face stigmatization and discrimination based on gender stereotypes. They carry a double burden because of inadequate measures aimed at supporting the reconciliation between employment and family responsibilities. Women with whom the Working Group met mentioned the lack of kindergartens or those whose opening hours match the working hours of mothers, as well as the lack of housing and/or transportation allowances to improve access of mothers to the workplace and the family. These discrepancies are discriminatory in practice and measures should be taken to address them.
The Working Group heard repeated references from numerous stakeholders about patriarchal attitudes which negatively impact on women’s image, status and equal opportunities. It encourages 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.
The Working Group sees a major void in the national human rights machinery to address violations of women’s human rights. None of the four Parliamentary Advocates are dedicated to women’s rights despite widespread reports of violations in this area. 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. 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. Effective monitoring of the human rights of women in all sectors of life in accordance with international human rights standards is of high priority, the findings of which should be integrated into governance accountability processes and systems.
Finally, the Working Group wishes to thank the Government for its cooperation prior to and during the visit and all the interlocutors for their time and openness in discussing issues related to its mandate.
The Working Group will present its final conclusions and recommendations stemming from its visit in its report to the Human Rights Council in June 2013.
For additional information on the mandate of the Working Group, please visit:
Un Human Rights, Country Page – Moldova
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