19 February 2016
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women today considered the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Mongolia on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Presenting the report, Gochoo Narangerel, State Secretary of the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, said that Mongolia had been consistently incorporating and implementing the Convention in its national laws and policies. The Parliament had just approved the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which specifically recognized the rights of women with disabilities and the Government’s responsibility in protecting reproductive health rights of women with disabilities, preventing domestic and sexual violence and harassment against them, and providing health care, legal, psychological and other quality services as required. A revision of the Labour Law would include provisions to prevent discrimination and harassment at work, including with regard to salaries. Domestic violence was on the rise, however, calling for critical legislative reforms and implementation of revised texts.
During the discussion which followed, Committee Experts welcomed Mongolia’s adoption of new legislations on labour, persons with disabilities and violence against women. They also welcomed Mongolia’s achievements in the field of health. Concerns were raised, however, regarding the lack of legal protection of women from discrimination on all grounds. Experts expressed concerns on an overall lack of access to services in rural and remote areas, particularly for women with disabilities. Questions were also raised regarding the under-representation of women in public and private sectors, access to education, nationality, and the ratification of various international instruments. One Expert voiced particular concern about the alleged possibility of forced abortions in Mongolia.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Narangerel said that the Government would give due consideration to the recommendations to be formulated by the Committee.
In her concluding remarks, Yoko Hayashi, Chairperson of the Committee, commended the State party’s efforts, and encouraged the implementation of the recommendations which were to be formulated by the Committee.
The delegation of Mongolia included representatives of the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health and Sports, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Justice, and the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 22 February at 4 p.m, when it will hold an informal meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions to discuss the situation of women in countries to be reviewed by the Committee during the second week of its session: the Czech Republic, Vanuatu, Haiti and Tanzania.
The combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Mongolia can be read here: CEDAW/C/MNG/8-9.
Presentation of the Reports
GOCHOO NARANGEREL, State Secretary of the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, presenting the reports, said that Mongolia had achieved certain progress in recent years towards protecting the rights of women and girls, increasing their capacity and conditions for ensuring gender equality. The Government had been consistently incorporating and implementing the Convention in its national laws and policies. The 2013 Midterm Strategy and Action Plan had created the legal environment to promote gender equality in political, economic, social, cultural and family relations. On 5 December 2015, the Parliament had approved the Long Term Development Strategy 2016-2030, aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which emphasized equal participation of women and men in social development and their equal access to social wealth. The National Committee on Gender Equality was established in 2005 to coordinate the nationwide gender policy. The structure of that Committee was undergoing changes.
The adoption of the revised Criminal Code in December 2015 included provisions criminalizing domestic violence and severe penalties for perpetrators of violence against children. The Government was developing a National Programme on Combatting Trafficking in Humans. The Parliament had recently approved a Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which specifically recognized the rights of women with disabilities and the Government’s responsibility in protecting reproductive health rights of women with disabilities, preventing domestic and sexual violence and harassment against them, and providing healthcare, legal, psychological and other quality services as required. The 2015 Law on Childcare Services supported employment opportunities for women. Efforts were made to increase the ratio of women within the decision-making level, including a revision of the Law on Election to impose 30-percent gender quotas for candidates nominated by political parties.
Following recommendations from the Committee, Mongolia had taken measures to include gender equality into all educational standards and curricula. A draft Labour Law was under consideration, and would include provisions to prevent discrimination and harassment at work, including with regard salaries. Significant legal reforms were considered to further improve the quality and access to health services, including for women and children in rural areas. regular trainings to health care providers, law enforcement officers and the media to strengthen the equal access to healthcare for sexual minorities. Trainings on the Convention were provided to health services, including at the local level.
Mongolia was taking numerous actions to support women’s advancement and participation in social life. Challenges, however, remained in terms of policy and practical regulation. Domestic violence was on the rise, calling for critical legislative reforms and implementation of revised texts. More precise indicators for gender statistics were also needed to better develop and implement gender sensitive programmes. Cooperation with stakeholders was also needed to implement Mongolia’s international commitments in relation to the rights of lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. Lastly, insufficient budget allocations remained a challenge for the implementation of the Law on Promotion of Gender Equality.
Questions by the Experts
The Committee noted Mongolia’s efforts in developing a new economic model, and hoped that women would play a key role in future developments. Experts congratulated Mongolia for having a vibrant civil society.
An Expert welcomed the abolition by Mongolia of the death penalty, and asked whether the Government would consider the ratification of additional international instruments, particularly the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
On visibility, the delegation was asked how the Government would ensure proper visibility for the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations, and what role would be reserved for civil society organizations. Would the Government seize the opportunity to assess the implementation of the Convention?
With regard to the definition of discrimination, sexual orientation seemed not to be taken into consideration as a possible ground for discrimination. What efforts were being done to prevent discrimination against ethnic minorities? An Expert asked whether article 14 para 2 of the Constitution would be amended in order to extend the grounds for discrimination to sexual orientation, disability and ethnicity. Experts welcomed the adoption of a new law on persons with disabilities, and asked what budget would be adopted for its implementation. They regretted the lack of strong sanctions and the fact that other pieces of legislations continued to discriminate against persons with disabilities, including legislation that permitted forced abortion and sterilization of women and girls with disabilities. Committee Members insisted on the importance of preventing multiple discrimination.
There had to be access to justice for women, one Expert noted. Courts had not been sufficiently effective. How did Mongolia plan to reinforce the actions of the courts? The Committee member underlined the importance of assessing the effectiveness of the judiciary, and of providing training to judges and lawyers with regard to women’s rights
Replies by the Delegation
With regard to international instruments, Mongolia was considering whether or not to accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Mongolia had received several recommendations in that regard during its Universal Periodic Review.
On discrimination, a delegate said that Mongolia was providing extra-financial support to persons belonging to minorities. Job creation was supported in the north of the country, where minorities lived. There was no legal discrimination against ethnic minorities. The Government was determined to address the growing number of persons with disabilities in the country. The amended Criminal Code contained provisions to prohibit discrimination on many grounds, including sexual orientation.
Persons with disabilities had, according to the new law, equal access to wealth and were not subject to any type of discrimination. The law dedicated a specific chapter to the needs of women with disabilities. The Gender Equality Law prohibited all discriminations on the ground of sex. The Government was undertaking analyses on the implementation of that law.
Efforts had been made to improve the transparency and accessibility of the judiciary, said the delegation. Trainings of judges and court members were provided online through teleconferences.
Questions by Experts
Experts welcomed the adoption of new legislations pertaining to gender equality, but underlined the necessity of appropriate machinery for their implementation. Experts asked what governmental bodies were in charge of assessing such implementation, including at the local level. What was the composition of the National Human Rights Commission? What resources were allocated to it? Had it received individual complaints? What mechanisms and resources were allocated to implement the Penal Code’s provisions on discrimination?
Experts noted that the Committee had previously urged Mongolia to undertake awareness-raising campaigns to promote women’s representation in public and private sectors, and to conduct data gathering on such representation. Had the Government adopted quotas to accelerate gender parity? Experts noted that women were often left at the bottom of party lists, which made the quotas ineffective in reality.
A Committee Member welcomed measures to tackle violence against women, and asked how shelters for victims of violence worked in practice. Had measures been taken to protect women with disabilities from violence? Experts raised questions regarding efforts made to tackle stigmatization and improve the representation of women in the media. Women with disability faced higher risks of being subjected to violence, Experts said. Were measures taken to ensure their protection and access to services provided for victims?
Mongolia was a source country for human trafficking, an Expert noted. The country was faced with the problem of contractual marriage with Chinese and Korean men. Mongolia had adopted a legislation in line with international standards, but had reduced its funding to provide shelter to victims. How was Mongolia cooperating with countries of destination of Mongolian trafficked persons? The Expert expressed concerns at the low level of prosecution for cases of trafficking, and asked whether awareness-raising campaigns had been conducted. Further, the Expert regretted that an action plan to combat trafficking was not implemented not funded. How was Mongolia combatting the exploitation of women into prostitution?
Replies by the Delegation
With regard to the machinery for the implementation of gender-related policies, a delegate said that the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection had pushed through a large number of social reforms. Although the Commission for Parity was now under the authority of that Ministry, it remained independent. It had 26 members, of whom 15 were state representatives, while others were from the civil society. The Commission was tasked with analysing draft legislations from a gender perspective. Complaints for discrimination were addressed to the Human Rights Commission, which was composed of three commissioners who examined their admissibility.
Mongolia would set up a mid-term strategy plan to implement gender-equality legislation, including legal provisions relating to stigmatization and gender-based violence. The Government was working closely with the media to combat gender stereotypes. Every year, it conducted awareness-raising campaigns to promote a positive image of women. The Government was also working on including gender-sensitivity both within the formal and informal education systems. Teachers were taught how to incorporate gender equality into school curricula. Mongolia was working together with international organizations on promoting gender awareness. Every year, one male and one female member of the Parliament were chosen as gender-equality promoters.
A delegate noted that the number of cases of domestic violence was increasing, which was explained by the fact that those cases were better reported as a result of the Government’s efforts to raise awareness on services provided to the victims, including legal, medical and protection services. Specific attention was given to children victims of such violence. Focal points for domestic violence were created within police departments. The Metropolitan Police Department had set up a special shelter for victims, where victims could get psychological, health and legal services. Over 400 victims were currently sheltered there, 70 percent of whom were under-age women. A hotline had been created in 2014. The Ministry of Justice had financed the opening of additional shelters in other provinces. Trainings had been conducted on domestic violence for law enforcement officers throughout the country.
A Law on Trafficking in Humans had been adopted in 2008, and Mongolia had ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol). 95 cases of trafficking had been prosecuted in recent years, resulting in the condemnation of 226 perpetrators. The Ministry of Justice had intensified measures to combat trafficking, including measures targeting vulnerable groups and programmes to strengthen the prevention and protection aspects. Those programmes were adequately budgeted. The action plan on trafficking would be discussed by the Government in March 2016.
Questions by Experts
An Expert welcomed the high percentage of women working in the judiciary, but regretted that lack of representation of women at decision-making levels, including in the Parliament and local governments. The report lacked information on measures taken to tackle barriers facing women’s representation, including stigmatization. Were campaigns conducted to promote the representation of women in the public and private sectors? What was the result of those campaigns? What measures would be taken to ensure that women could participate in elections at all levels without economic barriers? Would Mongolia consider temporary measures to increase the number of women serving in diplomacy?
Article 11-5 of the Election Law continued to restrict the right to vote of women with disabilities, an Expert regretted.
On nationality, another Expert said that mixed marriages between nationals and foreigners were common, and asked whether such marriages had to be registered. Despite efforts to protect women in such mixed marriages, there was no special coordinating mechanism to manage marriage services, which could facilitate trafficking. The Law on Citizenship seemed to provide that children born on the territory of Mongolia was considered a Mongolian. What was the status for children born to one Mongolian parent outside of the Mongolian territory? Was there the possibility of dual citizenship?
Replies by the Delegation
On women’s representation, a delegate said that it was prohibited to discriminate against women when appointing public servants. Women were represented within the foreign service, a delegate said. The Government was undertaking an analysis on the implementation of quotas, and would intensify their implementation. There had been a woman candidate in the latest presidential election, one delegate noted. Persons with disabilities could run for office and vote independently and secretly. The Law on Elections contained no limitation of the rights of persons with disabilities to vote or to be elected. The revised law, on the contrary, encouraged the facilitation and support accessibility.
On nationality, children from mixed marriages could choose either nationality when they reached the age of 18, the delegation explained.
The delegation said that the biological origin defined nationality. Children could be granted the Mongolian nationality when both parents agreed to it. Dual citizenship was prohibited for reasons of national security.
Questions by Experts
On employment, an Expert raised the issues of occupational segregation and asked how the Government was promoting the representation of women in senior management positions. Noting that the Labour Law was being revised, an Expert asked whether the Government would arrange trainings on non-discrimination for employers.
Experts noted women’s lack of access to capital and assets, which led to discrimination in access to self-employment. Had measures been taken to address gender pay-gaps and implement the principle of equal pay for work of equal value? An Expert asked whether measures had been taken to ensure that the legislation on pensions did not lead to discrimination against women.
Were women with disabilities supported by the State in accessing the labour market?
Committee Members welcomed positive achievements in the field of health. Experts noted that Mongolia had adopted new regulations governing abortion, and asked for statistics regarding their application. An Expert was very concerned that a combination of legislations allowed for forced abortion, which was a clear violation of the Convention. The Government should enact of clear prohibition of such practice.
Further, a survey showed that young people learned about contraception through the media rather than in schools. Was sex education provided in schools? Was there any plan to revise sex education curricula to make them more gender-specific in relation to sexual and reproductive health education? Concerns were raised regarding the lack of training on sexual and reproductive health among health service personnel.
Experts referred to the discrimination against persons affected by HIV/AIDS in practice, particularly with regard to access to employment.
An Expert welcomed the robust legal framework governing education, but said that gaps and challenges remained in certain areas. There was a lack of measures to prevent stigmatization against pregnant adolescents, and to ensure that they could reintegrate education, particularly in rural areas. Sexual harassment and sexual abuse were also a problem in education institutions, also particularly in rural areas. Those abuses particularly affected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. One Expert asked whether education, health and security personnel had been trained on issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to prevent discrimination on those grounds. Further, the new law on persons with disabilities did not contain provisions on education. Persons with disabilities lacked access to education, particularly in rural areas.
An Expert noted that the mining industry was developing and asked whether populations in rural areas were benefiting from the economic benefits of such activities.
Another Member of the Committee spoke of the rural exodus caused by climate change and desertification, and asked whether the authorities were helping in the relocation of populations. What efforts had been made in relation to disaster risk-reduction?
On matters relating to family life, another Expert regretted that the lack of knowledge of and access to contraception was the main reason for the high number of teenage pregnancies.
The Expert asked what sort of financial assistance was provided to single mothers who had never been married. How did the Government force divorced fathers to support their own children? Did divorced women receive their portion of land when such property was not registered under both her and her ex-husband’s name?
Replies by the Delegation
The law prohibited any sort of discrimination, including in terms of access to employment. The Law on Labour prohibited any discrimination in the labour market. That law was currently being amended, and would now contain stronger provisions against discrimination, including on the base of sex, age, sexual orientation or wealth. That law would contain sanctions for cases of discrimination in labour relations, including harassment at the workplace. Employers would be able to file complaints in cases of harassment. The new Labour Law would also provide the possibility for paternity leave. The new Law would be voted by the Parliament during the spring 2016.
The delegation informed that in 2015 a programme had been implemented to support the employment of more than 4,000 persons with disabilities. Following recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission, the Government would include the principle of equal pay for equal work in the revised Law on Labour. The Government had been undertaking programmes in order to improve rural women’s access to employment.
Turning to health, a delegate said that the Government had allowed abortion in 1996 in order to prevent adoptions carried out outside of medical facilities. That had led to a reduced rate of maternal mortality. The number of abortions carried out had increased in recent years. Adolescent clinics had been set up throughout the country to provide counselling to adolescents on sexual and reproductive health issues. Public budget allocations to strengthen access to contraception had also increased.
Breast cancer prevention health check-ups had been institutionalized. Women were encouraged to breastfeed at workplace. Sexual and reproductive health was being taught in schools.
In order to prevent teenage pregnancies, the Government provided distant learning programmes for adolescents who had dropped out school in rural areas. Forced abortion or sterilization did not exist in the Mongolian legislation. The only possibility for forced abortion used to be with the consent of the guardian of a woman with mental disability. That possibility had since been repealed. Pregnancies could now only be terminated with the consent of the mother, including women with mental illness or disabilities.
Trainings were provided to gynaecologists in 2015 on the issues of sexual minorities. With the financial help by Luxembourg, Mongolia had been strengthening tele-medicine, and continued efforts to ensure access to healthcare from everywhere in the country.
Risk management had identified the highest vulnerable populations to climate change. Several branches of the State were mobilized to address those risks, including health, police and educational sectors. Every year, the Government published information on measures to be adopted in the event of a national disaster.
On family life, the delegate stated that vulnerable persons below the poverty line, including single mothers, received financial support from the Government in the form of food vouchers. Special programmes were geared towards supporting adolescent mothers, a delegate said.
GOCHOO NARANGEREL, State Secretary of the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, said that the Government would give due consideration to the recommendations to be formulated by the Committee.
YOKO HAYASHI, Chairperson of the Committee, commended the State party’s efforts, and encouraged the implementation of the recommendations which were to be formulated by the Committee.
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