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GENEVA (4 July 2022) – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) today issued its findings on Azerbaijan, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Portugal, Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates, the States parties that it reviewed during its latest session.

The findings contain positive aspects of each country's implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations. Some of the key highlights include:


The Committee was concerned about the situation of many women and girls who have been internally displaced by the three decade-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and have limited access to education, employment, healthcare and housing. It called on Azerbaijan to ensure the meaningful and inclusive participation of women from diverse backgrounds in all reconstruction efforts. The Committee also expressed concern about the country’s Labour Code, which currently prohibits women from working in 204 professions. It asked Azerbaijan to abolish the list of non-recommended occupations that restricts women’s access to certain jobs and to make these professions more accessible to women.


Regarding the insufficient and ineffective protection from reprisals for women survivors of gender-based violence seeking justice, the Committee recommended that Bolivia take measures to ensure that protection and expulsion orders are issued and enforced in a timely and effective manner in cases of domestic violence, and that appropriate penalties are imposed for non-compliance with such orders. Concerning the lack of affordable modern contraceptives, especially in rural areas, the Committee asked Bolivia to ensure that all women and girls, particularly rural women and adolescents, have access to free, modern forms of contraception.


The Committee observed that there had been no court cases of discrimination against women and girls tried under the Criminal Code over the past five years, which may indicate that the definition of discrimination is too narrow and the burden of proof is too heavy on women. The Committee called on Mongolia to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to prohibit all discrimination against women and girls in public and private spheres. Given the persistence of stereotypes against women in the country, the Committee recommended that Mongolia adopt a comprehensive strategy to eliminate discriminatory stereotypes about women’s roles and responsibilities in the family and society. 


The Committee expressed concern about the country’s Penal Code that puts lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women at risk of criminal penalty. It called on Morocco to take necessary steps to repeal such discriminatory provisions of the Penal Code to avoid stigmatisation and instances of violence. As unmarried mothers are at risk of being prosecuted for having sexual relations outside of marriage when registering birth certificates and applying for other documents for their children, the Committee requested that Morocco recognise the right of unmarried mothers to assert their rights and the rights of their children without fear of any form of prosecution and stigmatisation.


The Committee was concerned about the rise of gender-based violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to public protests in 2020 in Namibia. It urged Namibia to ensure that every police station has specially trained police officers to deal with gender-based violence complaints, and to provide effective protection orders, shelters and psychological treatment for women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence. Concerning the absence of a timeline to adopt and amend various bills to protect women’s rights, such as the Combating of Rape Amendment Bill and the Combating of Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, the Committee recommended that Namibia accelerate its legislative process and incorporate a gender-sensitive approach in all relevant legislation.


Concerns were raised by the Committee over the lack of cooperation and coordination between family courts and criminal courts in cases involving gender-based violence. The Committee recommended that Portugal establish a mechanism to ensure that women have immediate recourse to civil protection orders and injunctions against abusive partners in family courts, without the need to engage in criminal proceedings. Women and girls with disabilities in Portugal are particularly vulnerable to forced sterilization carried out under the pretext of legitimate medical care or with the consent of others on their behalf. The Committee urged the State party to ensure the full, free and informed consent of women with disabilities for any intervention or medical treatment, and to guarantee dignified, autonomous ethical standards in the country's health sector.


The Committee was concerned about the dismissal of approximately 20 per cent of active judges and prosecutors, including women, during the state of emergency on the grounds of “association with terrorism”. It urged Türkiye to reinstate all dismissed judges immediately, and to expedite the investigation of harassment, intimidation and reprisal perpetrated against women judges and prosecutors. The Committee was also concerned that women human rights defenders and activists are often subjected to arrest, physical assault, threats, intimidation, harassment, and freezing of assets. It urged Türkiye to ensure that women human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists can freely carry out their legitimate activities, and to protect them from violence and intimidation.

United Arab Emirates

The Committee expressed concern about numerous provisions of the Personal Status Law that discriminate against women and girls, particularly the de jure retention of male guardianship, the persistence of polygamy, and the limited grounds for divorce available to women. It recommended that the State party undertake a comprehensive legislative review to provide women with equal rights in marriage, family relations, divorce and with regard to property and custody of children. Concerning the fact that women in the U.A.E. do not have the same right as men to pass on their nationality to their children and foreign spouses, the Committee called on the State party to grant Emirati women the equal rights to acquire, change and retain their nationality and to confer it on their children and foreign spouses.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.