United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women - Concluding Observations
Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination
20 November 2015
ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Concluding observations on the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Slovakia[*]
1. The Committee considered the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Slovakia (CEDAW/C/SVK/5-6) at its 1359th and 1360th meetings, on 12 November 2015 (see CEDAW/C/SR.1359 and 1360). The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/SVK/Q/5-6 and the responses of Slovakia are contained in CEDAW/C/SVK/Q/5-6/Add.1.
2. The Committee appreciates that the State party submitted its combined fifth and sixth periodic reports. It also appreciates the State party’s written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by its pre-sessional working group. It welcomes the oral presentation of the delegation and the further clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee during the dialogue.
3. The Committee commends the State party delegation which was headed by H.E. Mr. Fedor Rosocha, Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The delegation also included representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport, the Ministry of the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities, the Ministry of Justice, and of the Permanent Mission of Slovakia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
B. Positive Aspects
4. The Committee welcomes the progress achieved since the consideration in 2008 of the State party’s fourth periodic report (CEDAW/C/SVK/4) in undertaking legislative reforms, in particular the amendment to Act No.365/2004 Coll. (the Anti-Discrimination Act) in 2012 (entered into force in 2013) which introduced the use of affirmative action on the grounds of sex and gender for private entities in addition to public bodies.
5. The Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to improve its institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting gender equality, such as the adoption of the National Strategy and the National Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Slovak Republic for the years 2014-2019 and the National Action Plan for the Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women for the years 2014-2019.
6. The Committee welcomes the fact that, in the period since the consideration of the previous report, the State party has:
(a) Ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in 2012;
(b) Signed the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) in 2011; and
(c) Ratified the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto, in 2010.
C. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
Parliament (National Council of the Slovak Republic)
7. The Committee stresses the crucial role of the legislative power in ensuring the full implementation of the Convention (see the statement by the Committee on its relationship with parliamentarians, adopted at the forty-fifth session, in 2010). It invites the Parliament, in line with its mandate, to take necessary steps regarding the implementation of the present concluding observations between now and the next reporting period under the Convention.
Definition of gender discrimination and gender equality
8. The Committee welcomes the amendments of the Anti-discrimination Act which explicitly defined sexual harassment as one of the forms of discrimination and introduced affirmative action on grounds of sex and gender. However, the Committee remains concerned that the amendments do not introduce a substantive change to the basic provisions of the Anti-discrimination Act. The definition of discrimination as “any action or omission where one person is treated less favourably than another person” as well as the principle of equal treatment provided under the Act are not consistent with the principle of substantive equality on the grounds of sex, as defined under the articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.
9. Reiterating its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/SVK/CO/4, para 9) the Committee recommends that the State party review the Anti-discrimination Act in order to eliminate any form of discrimination against women in all areas covered by the art 2 of the Convention in line with the general recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Access to Justice and remedies
10. The Committee notes the positive steps taken by the State party to facilitate women’s access to justice, including the establishment of the Legal Aid Centre and the Slovak National Commission for Human Rights as well as the amendments to the Anti-discrimination Act which shifted the burden of proof to the defendant, increased the maximum threshold below which legal aid is granted, and provide for public interest litigation. However, the Committee is concerned at the low level of compliance and enforcement of the Act, in particular that:
(a) Sex- and gender-based discrimination is rarely addressed by courts, redress in cases of discrimination is not adequate for women and girls, particularly in the case of Roma and other disadvantaged groups of women, women and girls do not trust the effectiveness of judicial remedies and fear potential stigmatization and re-victimization; and
(b) Affordable and good quality legal aid remains inaccessible for many women despite of the expanded coverage of free legal aid, judicial fees are high, the shift in the burden of proof is not consistently implemented by courts, and judicial proceedings tend to be delayed.
11. In line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Design a comprehensive policy to eliminate institutional, social, economic, technological and other barriers faced by women in obtaining access to justice, in particular for Roma women and other disadvantaged groups of women who are disproportionally affected by intersecting forms of discrimination; and
(b) Expedite legal reform to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of judicial proceedings and ensure adequate redress for women victims of sex- or gender-based discrimination and of violations of their human rights under the Convention.
National human rights institution
12. The Committee notes that the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights' B status accreditation was renewed in March 2014. It remains concerned that its funding is not secured and does not guarantee sufficient human, technical and financial resources to ensure effective enforcement of the Anti-discrimination Act, including the provision of legal aid and legal representation, and its political independence is not sufficiently safeguarded.
13. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Expedite the adoption of the planned amendment to the Act on the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights in order to increase its effectiveness, enhance its political and budgetary independence and capacity to proactively provide legal assistance or legal representation on cases of discrimination and violence against women, including sexual violence and harassment;
(b) Allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources to the Centre; and
(c) Enable the Centre to monitor the examination of cases regarding women’s rights and intersecting forms of discrimination.
National machinery for the advancement of women
14. The Committee notes that since 2012 the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family was assigned the function of the central state administration body for gender equality and the Department of Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities became responsible for coordination of the national policy on gender equality and non-discrimination. The Committee also welcomes the increased human and financial resources for the Department as well as the creation of a grant scheme in 2012 to support activities of non-governmental organizations promoting gender equality. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned about:
(a) The level of political authority and coordination capacity of the Department, in particular for the management of the National Strategy for Gender Equality for 2014-2019; and
(b) The high dependency of the funding of the Department on the European Structural Funds and other bilateral partners which may not guarantee the long term sustainability of the implementation of the Strategy as well as the decline in the funds allocated for non-governmental organizations and the lack of clear criteria for eligibility.
15. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen the decision making capacity and the authority of the Department of Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities in order to enhance its coordination role and capacity in the implementation of the National Strategy for Gender Equality for 2014-2019;
(b) Ensure the sustainability of the National Strategy by increasing the funding of the Department from the national budget; and
(c) Set clear and transparent eligibility criteria based on international human rights standards, including the Convention, for funding of non-governmental organizations and monitor the impact on such funding with regard to the promotion of gender equality and the enjoyment of women’s rights.
Temporary special measures
16. The Committee notes that the amendment to the Anti-discrimination Act in 2013 enabled not only public institutions but all legal entities, including private companies, to adopt affirmative actions and expanded the scope of affirmative actions to address disadvantages resulting from gender discrimination. The Committee is, nevertheless, concerned that affirmative actions adopted under the Act reflect the limited understanding and application of the concept of temporary special measures in the State party.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt temporary special measures, in line with article 4 (1) of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 25 on temporary special measures, in all areas of the Convention where women are underrepresented or disadvantaged.
18. The Committee notes with concern that:
(a) Discriminatory stereotypes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men in society and in the family are deeply rooted in the State party and women continue to bear a disproportionate share of family and household responsibilities; and
(b) There have been strong campaigns by non-state actors, including the religious and civic organizations, the media and politicians, advocating for traditional family values, over-emphasizing the roles of women as mothers and caretakers, and criticizing gender equality as “gender ideology”.
19. The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Carry out awareness-raising and education initiatives for both women and men on the sharing of domestic and family responsibilities between women and men; and
(b) Strengthen its efforts to take effective and proactive measures, such as awareness-raising campaigns and public statements by high level Government authorities, to promote the understanding of gender equality in line with international human rights standards and to counter efforts made by any actors to downplay or degrade the pursuit of gender equality by labelling such measures as ideology.
Violence against women
20. The Committee welcomes the launch of a national 24-hour helpline for women victims of violence, and a series of the amendment of laws which penalized stalking and forced marriages and gave effect to the Council of European Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse under domestic jurisdiction. However, the Committee notes with concern:
(a) The long delays in adopting a comprehensive legislation on violence against women including domestic violence and in ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence;
(b) Under-reporting of violence against women by victims, the low numbers of prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators, as well as the limited application of protection orders by the police, in particular in cases of sexual violence;
(c) The lack of coordinated system for preventive measures and victim assistance, including the provision of shelters and legal, medical and psychological assistance, in cases of gender-based violence against women; and
(d) The high prevalence of gender-based violence and harmful practices against women, including sale of women or forced marriages, in particular among Roma women living in segregated environments.
21. Recalling general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women, the Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Expedite the enactment of the Law on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, in line with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), as well as the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, ensuring gender-specific approach to these phenomena, and ensure active and meaningful participation of women’s rights organizations, in particular those working for disadvantaged and marginalized groups of women, in the implementation and monitoring of this law;
(b) Ensure that perpetrators of violence and harmful practices against women are prosecuted and punished with sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the crime as well as effectively enforce and monitor compliance with protection orders against perpetrators of domestic violence, and ensure that the duration of such orders is sufficient for adequately protecting the women concerned;
(c) Ensure that women victims of violence have adequate access to protection and assistance, including by ensuring a sufficient number of State-funded shelters across the territory of the State party and raise awareness among women and the general public about the criminal nature of violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence, with a view to encouraging women to report incidents of violence against them; and
(d) Adopt and effectively implement a targeted programme to eliminate gender-based violence and harmful practices against Roma women and girls and collect statistical data on all forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, disaggregated by sex, age, ethnicity/minority status and relationship between victim and perpetrator, undertaking surveys and research on the extent of violence against women in the State party and its root causes.
Trafficking and exploitation of prostitution
22. The Committee notes the creation of the Programme for the Support and Protection of the Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings and the Information Centre for the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings and Crime Prevention in 2008. However, the Committee notes with concern:
(a) Ineffective identification of victims of human trafficking and the lenient sentencing of convicted perpetrators, including many suspended sentences;
(b) The lack of comprehensive disaggregated data on sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution; and
(c) Greater vulnerability of Roma women and girls to trafficking, including internal trafficking, for purposes of sexual exploitation.
23. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen efforts aimed at early identification of victims of trafficking as well as at victim assistance;
(b) Ensure the prosecution and adequate punishment of perpetrators of trafficking-related crimes, commensurate with the gravity of the crime;
(c) Conduct studies and surveys on the prevalence of exploitation of prostitution and include in its next report updated information and data on the prevalence of this phenomenon; and
(d) Strengthen efforts to address the root causes of trafficking and forced prostitution, in particular of Roma women and girls, by increasing educational and alternative income-generating opportunities, thereby minimizing their vulnerability.
Participation in political and public life
24. The Committee notes the high representation of women in the judiciary, including at the highest level. However, the Committee is concerned at the low representation of women in Parliament and in the government both at national and local levels as well as the under-representation of women in high-ranking positions in the diplomatic service.
25. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Take sustained measures with concrete goals and timetables to accelerate the increase in the number of women in political and public life, in particular in decision-making positions, and monitor their achievement; and
(b) Adopt measures, including temporary special measures, such as statutory quotas, to promote the equal representation of women and men in Parliament, political parties and in high level positions in the public administration at national and local levels, as well as in the diplomatic service, with special attention given to women belonging to ethnic minority groups.
26. The Committee notes that legislative measures have been taken to prohibit discrimination in education and that the Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Slovak Republic 2014-2019 aims to promote women’s studies in science and technology. However, the Committee is concerned about the persistent gender segregation in education with low participation of women and girls in mathematics, science and technology studies, as well as low representation of women in teaching positions in higher education and the limited age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights in school curricula. The Committee is also deeply concerned about the segregation of Roma children in special schools and/or in special classes in mainstream schools as well as the segregation of children with disabilities, including girls, in special schools and/or in special classes.
27. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt measures, including temporary special measures, to promote non-traditional educational choices of women and girls in fields such as mathematics, science and technology and to accelerate the appointment of women to the highest positions in academic institutions;
(b) Provide education on sexual and reproductive health and rights which is age-appropriate and based on scientific evidence and international human rights standards to girls and boys, as part of the regular school curricula, include information on responsible sexual behaviour and the prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in such curricula, and build the capacity of teaching staff to deliver such education;
(c) Eliminate segregation of Roma girls in the educational system and provide them with equal access to quality education at all levels and take effective measures to retain Roma girls in school and increase their attendance at the primary and secondary schools through temporary special measures and support; and
(d) Give priority to inclusive education of children with disabilities, including children with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities, by reviewing relevant legislation and policies to explicitly recognize inclusive education as a right of children with disabilities and allocate the necessary technical, human and financial resources to provide for reasonable accommodation for them to study in mainstream classes at mainstream schools.
28. The Committee notes the amendment of the Labour Code in 2011 which provides for equal treatment of women and men in employment and the increase in the representation of women on corporate boards. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned that:
(a) Significant horizontal and vertical gender segregation exists on the labour market, including the persistent low representation of women compared to men in economic decision-making position, such as in supervisory board of companies and in executive positions, and the gender pay gap remains at a high range despite women’s high levels of education;
(b) The lack of effective measures to promote reconciliation of work and family life constitutes a barrier to women’s access to employment, in particular for mothers with young children;
(c) Employment rate among Roma women is exceptionally low, in particular for Roma women living in segregated and separated settlements;
(d) Many public and private actors have not adopted temporary special measures to facilitate women’s participation in the labour market; and
(e) Protection of women from sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace remains inadequate, especially since the labour inspectorate lacks adequate tools to handle such cases.
29. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Eliminate horizontal and vertical segregation between women and men in the labour market and close the gender pay gap, including by adopting temporary special measures and enhancing efforts to encourage women and girls to select non-traditional educational and vocational choices and career options, in particular in the areas of science and technology;
(b) Enhance measures to achieve women’s equal and full participation in decision-making in the economic sphere, in particular in the management and supervisory boards of public and private companies;
(c) Review its labour and social security legislation to promote equal sharing of parental responsibilities between women and men;
(d) Strengthen labour inspections and sanctioning discriminatory practices by employers based on pregnancy and following parental leave, encourage men to opt for paternity leave and flexible working arrangements, raise awareness among employers, particularly private employers, on the advantages of promoting gender equality in the workforce; and provide affordable quality childcare facilities across the State party;
(e) Encourage the adoption of temporary special measures both by public and private entities, to promote women’s access to the labour market, in particular for Roma women, in line with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 25 on temporary special measures; and
(f) Ensure the effective implementation of measures to prevent, monitor and adequately remedy sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace by strengthening the role of the labour inspectorate.
30. The Committee is concerned that:
(a) The adoption of a comprehensive programme on sexual and reproductive health and rights has been long pending, despite the fact that, rates of teenage pregnancy and infant mortality are high and infection of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, is increasing;
(b) Cost of modern forms of contraception for the purpose of preventing unintended pregnancies and abortion on request are not covered by the public health insurance;
(c) An amendment to the Healthcare Act in 2009 introduced a mandatory 48-hour waiting period, compulsory counselling and in case of girls under 18 years old, parental consent prior to abortion and the duty of doctors to report each case where a woman is seeking abortion to the National Health Information Centre with personal details;
(d) In more than one third of the districts legal abortion is unavailable and in four of these districts it is unavailable due to conscientious objection;
(e) Oversight procedures and mechanisms for ensuring adequate standards of care and the respect for women’s rights, dignity and autonomy during deliveries are lacking, and options for giving birth outside hospitals are limited; and
(f) Roma women are segregated from other patients in maternity hospitals.
31. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt and implement, without further delay, a comprehensive programme on sexual and reproductive health and rights which is in line with the Convention and its general recommendation No. 24 on women and health, as well as international human rights and World Health Organization standards; allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources for the implementation of such programme; conduct research to identify the root causes of the high rates of infant mortality and teenage pregnancy as well as of the increase of sexually transmitted diseases; and ensure free, active and meaningful participation of women’s organizations, in particular those working on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, in the development, implementation and monitoring of such programme;
(b) Revise relevant legislation and ensure universal coverage by the public health insurance of all costs related to legal abortion, including abortion on request, as well as modern contraceptives for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy;
(c) Revise the Healthcare Law as amended in 2009 to ensure access to safe abortion and remove the requirement for mandatory counselling, medically unnecessary waiting periods, and third-party authorization, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization;
(d) Ensure unimpeded and effective access to legal abortion and post-abortion services to all women in the State party, including by ensuring mandatory referrals in case of conscientious objections by institutions, while respecting individual conscientious objections;
(e) Ensure that information provided by health care professionals to women seeking abortion is science- and evidence-based and covers the risks of having or not having an abortion to ensure women’s full information and autonomous decision-making;
(f) Ensure confidentiality of personal data of women and girls seeking abortion, including by abolishing the reporting to the National Health Information Centre of personal details of women and girls seeking abortion;
(g) Put in place adequate safeguards to ensure that women have access to appropriate and safe child birth procedures which are in line with adequate standards of care, respect for women’s autonomy and the requirement of free, prior, informed consent; and
(h) Monitor and sanction segregation of Roma women in hospitals and clinics, including maternity hospitals.
32. The Committee welcomes the adoption of binding regulations by Decree of the Ministry of Health No. 56 of 23 October 2013, detailing the procedure to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of the woman concerned before performing a sterilization and requiring the distribution of sample forms of informed consent in the national language as well as in the languages of national minorities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned that:
(a) There is no systematic monitoring of the implementation of the Decree of the Ministry of Health No. 56 and other relevant legislation on the prohibition of forced sterilization;
(b) Roma women are not aware of their rights and ways to seek for redress in case of sterilization without informed consent, including those occurred in the past; and
(c) There are some cases of forced sterilization pending at national courts for long periods of time, which indicates inability of the justice system to provide appropriate, effective and gender-sensitive remedies in a timely manner.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Systematically monitor public and private health centres, including hospitals and clinics, which perform sterilization procedures so as to ensure their full compliance with national legislation and regulations on prohibition of forced sterilization, and impose appropriate sanctions in the event of a breach;
(b) Provide systematic and regular training to all relevant personnel in public and private health centres, on how to ensure free, prior and informed consent for medical interventions in the field of women’s reproductive health, including sterilization, in line with the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendations No. 19 on violence against women and No. 24 on women and health;
(c) Take measures to raise awareness among Roma women on their sexual and reproductive rights as well as on ways to seek redress in cases of violation, including with regard to cases which occurred in the past; and
(d) In line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice, ensure that complaints filed by Roma women against forced sterilization are duly investigated and that victims of such practices have access to remedies and redress that are adequate, effective, promptly granted, holistic and proportionate to the gravity of the harm suffered.
Economic empowerment of women
34. The Committee notes that the State party has introduced minimum pension benefits and extended the period of maternity leave for single mothers. However, it is concerned that single parent households headed by women, older women and Roma women, in particular those living in segregated settlements, are at high risk of poverty and that social benefits, allowances and pensions are not providing adequate protection against poverty.
35. The Committee recommends that the State party review its pension and social benefits schemes to ensure that the amount and duration of pensions and other benefits are adequate for effective protection against poverty and adopt a specific strategy to improve the economic status of single parent households headed by women, older women and Roma women.
Disadvantaged and marginalized groups of women
36. The Committee notes with concern the impact of intersecting forms of discrimination on disadvantaged and marginalized groups of women in the State party. In particular, the Committee is concerned about:
(a) The persisting segregation of Roma in separate settlements, including by constructing walls and other physical separations, Roma women’s limited access to land tenure, the reports on frequent violent raids by the police in Roma settlements resulting in casualties and displacements of residents, including women and children, and the lack of investigation into the excessive use of force and misconduct by the police;
(b) Heightened risk of violence and labour exploitation and racially-motivated acts faced by migrant women;
(c) When trying to change their legally recognized gender, transgender and intersex women are reportedly required to undergo medical treatment which does not respect their freedom to control one’s body; and
(d) The lack of comprehensive data on women facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, which prevents obtaining a basis for informed and targeted policy to address their situation with regard to all areas covered by the Convention.
37. The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Review its laws and policies on land and housing, including the Construction Act, with the participation of Roma women, to ensure these women can fully enjoy their rights to adequate housing, education and family and private life without discrimination and fear of segregation, forced eviction and displacement and establish and enforce a strict code of conduct for the police so as to effectively guarantee respect for women’s human rights, in all its operations;
(b) Introduce protective measures for all migrant women, including undocumented migrant women, at particular risk of violence and strengthen labour inspections of workplaces, including private households and take concrete measures to protect them from racially-motivated acts; and
(c) Review current laws and take measures to ensure respecting and protecting the rights of transgender and intersex women and girls to control their body and to be free from non-consensual medical treatment, including by abolishing the requirement of compulsory sterilization and surgery for transgender women who wish to obtain legal recognition of their gender.
38. The Committee recommends that the State party enhance the collection of data disaggregated by sex, age, ethnicity, geographical location and socioeconomic background, in all areas covered by the Convention, in particular on women facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including women belonging to Roma and other ethnic minorities, migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women, women with disabilities and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women. In doing so, the Committee encourages the State party to:
(a) Collect data on ethnicity based on the principle of self-identification and anonymity;
(b) Involve the surveyed population groups in the data definition and data-collection processes; and
(c) Ensure stringent protection of personal information throughout the data collection process, including collection, processing and dissemination of data.
39. The Committee is further concerned at recent resurgence of negative discourse by political leaders, private organizations, and religious groups and violence directed against Roma women and women belonging to other ethnic minority groups, migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women.
40. The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Amend legislation to explicitly prohibit hate speech based on being lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women as an independent crime;
(b) Ensure that the prohibition of hate crimes and hate speech under the Anti-discrimination Act and the Criminal Code is strictly enforced and that judges, prosecutors, the police and other law enforcement officials are adequately trained to recognize and effectively address such incidents;
(c) Publicly condemn racially-motivated and homophobic discourse and violence, including manifestations of racism and homophobia in the media and on the internet, and strengthen efforts to promote tolerance and respect for diversity; and
(d) Take an inclusive and non-selective approach in upholding the principle of non-refoulement and take a gender-sensitive approach towards the ongoing refugee inflows, as well as to the asylum claims, including in procedural matters, in line with the rights covered in the Convention and its General Recommendation No. 32 (2014) on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women.
Marriage and family relations
41. In the context of the increasing number of divorces, single parent households, a majority of which are female headed, and de facto unions, the Committee notes with concern that:
(a) There is no legal provisions regulating de facto unions (referred to as "free cohabitation of partners"), which may deprive women of protection and redress in case of separation form their partner;
(b) There is lack of research to study the long-term developmental effects on children of shared or alternating custody arrangements introduced in the Family Act in 2010, as well as the lack of safeguards against decreased child support payments resulting from such arrangements with the risk of jeopardising the child's wellbeing; and
(c) The State party’s current law on property distribution upon divorce does not adequately address gender-based economic disparities between spouses resulting from traditional work and family-life patterns. These often lead to enhanced human capital and earning potential of men while women may experience the opposite, so that spouses currently do not equitably share in the economic consequences of the marriage and its dissolution. Likewise, neither existing legislation nor case law addresses distribution of future earning potential so as to redress possible gender-based economic disparities between spouses.
42. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Undertake legislative reforms with a view to protecting economic rights of women in de facto unions, in line with general recommendation No. 29 on economic consequences of marriage, family relations and their dissolution;
(b) Undertake research into the developmental effects of shared or alternating custody arrangements, focusing on children's psychological and economic wellbeing, and develop necessary training of judiciary and welfare personnel on the complexity of such arrangements, bearing in mind the growing influence of "men's rights organizations" over welfare workers, and ensure that the 2015 amendment to the Family Act mandating consideration of "interfering with mental, physical and emotional integrity of a person close to the child" in decision-making in all matters concerning the child is implemented and enforced; and
(c) Conduct research on the economic consequences of divorce on both spouses, and adopt such legal measures as may be necessary to redress economic disparities between men and women upon the dissolution of marriage, including, in particular, the recognition of earning potential as part of the marital property to be distributed upon divorce, or the award of balancing periodic payments, in line with general recommendation No. 29.
Amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention
43. The Committee encourages the State party to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
44. The Committee calls upon the State party to utilize the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, in its efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
45. The Committee calls for the realization of substantive gender equality, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, throughout the process of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
46. The Committee recalls the obligation of the State party to systematically and continuously implement the provisions of the Convention. It urges the State party to give priority attention to the implementation of the present concluding observations and recommendations between now and the submission of the next periodic report. The Committee therefore requests the timely dissemination of the concluding observations, in the official language(s) of the State party, to the relevant state institutions at all levels (national, regional, local), in particular to the Government, the ministries, the Parliament and to the judiciary, to enable their full implementation. It encourages the State party to collaborate with all stakeholders concerned, such as employers’ associations, trade unions, human rights and women’s organisations, universities and research institutions, media, etc. It further recommends that its concluding observations be disseminated in an appropriate form at the local community level, to enable their implementation. In addition, the Committee requests the State party to continue to disseminate the CEDAW Convention, its Optional Protocol and jurisprudence, and the Committee’s General Recommendations to all stakeholders.
47. The Committee recommends that the State party link the implementation of the Convention to its development efforts and that it avail itself of regional or international technical assistance in this respect.
Ratification of other treaties
48. The Committee notes that the adherence of the State party to the nine major international human rights instruments would enhance the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. The Committee therefore encourages the State party to consider ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, to which it is not yet a party.
Follow-up to concluding observations
49. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 9 and 19 (a) above.
Preparation of the next report
50. The Committee invites the State party to submit its seventh periodic report in November 2019.
51. The Committee requests the State party to follow the “Harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents” (HRI/MC/2006/3 and Corr.1).
[*] Adopted by the Committee at its sixty-second session (26 October-20 November 2015).
 The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.