Concrete and effective measures urgently required to improve respect for women's rights
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||16 February 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Concrete and effective measures urgently required to improve respect for women's rights, 16 February 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/482c5be182.html [accessed 25 April 2014]|
FIDH and the Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) welcome the recent adoption by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee), of its Concluding Comments on Nicaragua.
On 18 January 2007, the CEDAW Committee experts examined the report submitted by Nicaragua on its implementation of its obligations under the CEDAW Convention. FIDH presented information on some serious issues of concern, focusing on women working in textile factories (maquiladoras or maquilas) in the free trade zone and reproductive health rights. The concluding comments issued by the CEDAW Committee largely reflect these concerns.
In Nicaragua, 80 percent of the labour force of the maquilas are young women. Tax exemption in the free-trade zones is accompanied by flagrant breaches of the basic rights of employees, in violation of Nicaragua's obligations under international law as well as provisions of national legislation.
The CEDAW Committee noted with concern the "continuing violations of the rights of women working in free trade zones and maquiladoras, including their right to association and access to justice, their conditions of work, the lack of employers' compliance with safety and health standards and the lack of legal provisions on sexual harassment".
The CEDAW Committee urged the Nicaragua to "fully enforce existing labour legislation; put in place effective measures to prevent and punish violations of the rights of women working in the maquiladora industries; address the lack of adherence to safety and health standards; enhance women workers' access to justice and legal assistance; and undertake awareness-raising efforts so that women workers can claim their rights". The State Party was invited by the Committee to report on steps and measures taken in this regard in its next periodic report.
In response to questions from the CEDAW Committee, the delegation of Nicaragua stated that they had insufficient information on the situation of workers in the maquilas and that access to the maquilas was difficult. However, they expressed their commitment to improve the condition of workers in the maquilas and that it would be reflected in future policies.
"The maquilas industry cannot be a sustainable response to the economic crisis where jobs offered in maquilas do not satisfy the minimum needs of workers. We call on the authorities of Nicaragua to ensure protection of the rights of women in the maquilas and to honour its commitment in the development of future policies," said Sidiki Kaba, President of FIDH.
In relation to reproductive health rights, the CEDAW Committee emphasized that they are inadequately recognized and protected in Nicaragua. The Committee expressed concern about the recent steps taken by Nicaragua to criminalize therapeutic abortion, and to impose severe sanctions on women who have undergone illegal abortions. The Committee urged Nicaragua to take concrete measures to enhance women's access to health care, in particular to sexual and reproductive health services; to strengthen measures aimed at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, including by increasing knowledge and awareness about family planning and services, and to take measures to ensure that women do not seek unsafe medical procedures, such as illegal abortion, because of the lack of inaccessibility, including due to cost, of appropriate family planning and the contraceptive services.
The Committee called on Nicaragua to "consider reviewing the laws relating to abortion with a view to removing punitive provisions imposed on women who have abortions and provide them with access to quality services for the management of complications arising from unsafe abortions".
FIDH and CENIDH call upon Nicaragua to disseminate widely the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee, including to all relevant Ministries, Parliament, and the general public, in order to ensure their full implementation.
Our organisations further call upon Nicaragua to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW Convention, a mechanism allowing victims to submit complaints to the Committee. "Nicaragua is one of the few countries in Latin America that has not ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW", stressed Sidiki Kaba. "Ratification of this vital instrument would represent a decisive sign of the political will of Nicaragua to ensure increased protection of women's rights".