Lao PDR and Timor Leste CEDAW reporting

44th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, examined the combined 6th and 7th periodic reports of Lao People's Democratic Republic and presented its Concluding Observations, which constitute the Committee's final recommendations to governments about how to further equality for all women.

During the 44th session the Initial Periodic Report of Timor Leste was also examined and Concluding Observations presented.

Follow-up to concluding observations

Lao PDR

The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 24 (violence against women), and 43 (migrant women workers) above.

Violence Against Women (Paragraph 24)

The Committee urges the State party to give priority attention to combating violence against women and girls and to adopting comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls, in accordance with its general recommendation 19. It calls upon the State party to adopt a specific law on domestic violence and gender-based violence against women and to develop and implement a coherent and multi-sectoral national action plan to prevent violence against women, including through legal remedies, effective protection measures and systematic data collection, in a participatory process between the Government and non-governmental sectors.

It also requests the State party to raise public awareness, through the media and education programmes, of the fact that all forms of violence against women are a form of discrimination under the Convention and, therefore, are in violation of women’s human rights. The Committee requests the State party to remove any impediments faced by women victims in gaining access to justice and to immediate means of redress and protection and recommends the implementation of training for the judiciary and public officials, in particular law enforcement personnel, health-service providers and the Village Mediation Units in order to ensure that they are sensitized to all forms of violence against women and can provide adequate gender-sensitive support to victims. It also recommends the establishment of quality counselling services and additional shelters for victims of violence.

The Committee requests the State party to provide information on the laws and policies in place to deal with violence against women and girls and on the impact of such measures, as well as data and trends on the prevalence of various forms of such violence, disaggregated by age and ethnic group. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake studies and/or surveys on the extent of such violence and its root causes.

Migrant Women Workers (Paragraph 43)

The Committee urges the State party to adopt a comprehensive gender sensitive migration policy and to continue to conclude bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding with countries and regions to which Lao women migrate in search of work, while ensuring that such agreements fully reflect women’s human rights and are in conformity with the Convention.

In addition, it requests the State party to strengthen its information activities so as to ensure that potential women migrants are fully aware of their rights, as well as of the potential risks of such employment. The State party is also urged to introduce gender-responsive policies, legislation and programmes to protect outgoing, returning and incoming women migrant workers, including those who go abroad through informal channels, from all forms of violations of their rights. The Committee further encourages the State party to take a coherent and comprehensive approach to addressing the root causes of women’s migration, including through the creation of the conditions necessary for sustainable development and of safe and protected jobs for women as a viable economic alternative to migration or unemployment. The Committee recommends that the State party pay due attention to its general recommendation 26 in this respect.

Timor Leste

The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, detailed written information on the implementation of the recommendations contained in paragraph 36 (access to education ) and 38 ( infant and maternal mortality) above.

Access to education for girls and young women (paragraph 36)

The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure de facto equal access of girls and young women to all levels of education, overcome traditional attitudes hampering women and girls in their full enjoyment of their right to education, retain girls in schools and implement re-entry policies enabling young women to return to school after pregnancy.

The Committee further urges the State party to take measures to increase the enrolment of girls at all levels and recommends the introduction of temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and its general recommendation 25. The Committee recommends that the State party encourages the collaboration of parents in the implementation of such measures.

The Committee encourages the State party to strengthen its efforts to eradicate illiteracy, particularly among rural women, by conducting illiteracy programmes in local languages as well as Portuguese involving parents in these measures. The Committee calls upon the State party to provide safe transportation to and from schools as well as safe educational environments free from discrimination and violence. It calls on the State party to strengthen awareness-raising and training of school officials and students, sensitization of children through the media and the establishment of reporting and accountability mechanisms to ensure that perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment are prosecuted.

The Committee urges the State party to ensure that those responsible for the harassment or abuse of girls are prosecuted and punished in accordance with the severity of these crimes, that such abuse is viewed as a human rights violation and that girls are provided with support so that they can report such incidents. The Committee also urges the State party to take measures to promote the creation of a positive environment that will prevent such abuse from arising, including by encouraging families not to accept the settlement of such cases through the marriage of the girl with the perpetrator. The Committee recommends that the State party explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including through awareness-raising campaigns aimed at families, the school system and other educational settings.

Maternal and Infant Mortality (paragraph 38)

The Committee recommends that the State party step up its efforts to reduce the high rate of maternal and infant mortality. It suggests that the State party assess the root causes of maternal mortality and set targets and benchmarks with a time frame for its reduction. It urges the State party to make every effort to raise the awareness of, and increase women’s access to, health-care facilities and medical assistance by trained personnel, especially in rural areas and particularly in the area of post-natal care.

The Committee further recommends that the State party implement programmes and policies aimed at providing effective access to affordable contraceptives and family planning services so that women and men can make informed choices about the number and spacing of the children. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that sex education programmes are widely promoted and targeted at girls and boys, and include special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies. The Committee further calls upon the State party to review the legislation relating to abortion with a view to removing the punitive provisions imposed on women who undergo abortion in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health and the Beijing Platform for Action.

The Committee recommends that the State party put in place a system of data collection to strengthen the knowledge base for effective policy development and implementation on all aspects of women’s health, including monitoring of concrete impact.