Where global solutions are shaped for you | News & Media | COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN REVIEWS THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE

ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN REVIEWS THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE

5 July 2019

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today examined the fourth periodic report of Côte d’Ivoire on measures taken to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Ramata Bakayoko-Ly, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children of Côte d’Ivoire, said that the report before the Committee presented the progress in the implementation of the Convention and the Committee’s previous concluding observations and recommendations, and an overview of key challenges in this regard. Major legal and institutional reforms since the country had emerged from the post-electoral crisis in 2011 included the adoption of the law on marriage and the national strategy to combat trafficking in persons in 2013, the setting up of the National Gender Observatory and the national strategy against gender-based violence in 2014, and the adoption of the law on the employment of persons with disabilities in 2015. In 2016, the principle of equality between all citizens and a list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, including on the grounds of sex, had been introduced in the Constitution, and the March 2019 law on the representation of women in elected assemblies imposed a 30 per cent quota for women candidates. Côte d’Ivoire was committed to overcoming the remaining challenges and guaranteeing to its women the equal enjoyment of the fruits of development, including through the social programme 2018-2020 and its budget of over $1.7 billion dollars.

Committee Experts welcomed the recent legislative and political measures taken to promote the rights of women and strengthen their access to justice, the allocation of large parts of the national budget to the critically important sectors of health and education, the setting up of the National Gender Observatory, and the recognition in laws of equal access to political and public life for women. They were concerned, however, about the implementation gap and the fact that in practice, women continued to be poorly represented in elected and other public posts, and that female genital mutilation was a reality for many girls, as were child marriage and early pregnancies. Denouncing violence against women, Experts said that the lack of an adequate definition of this phenomenon hampered the efforts to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence and sexual harassment. They urged the adoption of a framework law on gender equality and the use of temporary special measures to achieve the substantial equality of women and to overcome structural and social barriers that hindered the effective enjoyment of women’s rights.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Bakayoko-Ly said that Côte d’Ivoire had made huge strides, with the support of non-governmental organizations and bilateral and multilateral partners, and that it recognized the need to ensure that all women shared the benefits of the progress.

Hilary Gbedemah, Committee Chairperson, in her concluding remarks, commended Côte d’Ivoire for its efforts and urged it to pay particular attention to the Committee’s concluding observations identified for immediate follow up.

The delegation of Côte d’Ivoire consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Women’s Affair, Family and Children, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, and the Permanent Mission of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Côte d’Ivoire at the end of its seventy-third session on 19 July. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Committee will reconvene on Monday, 8 July at 10 a.m. to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Committee will hold a panel discussion on the theme "Eradicating Discrimination against Women: Milestones and Next Steps".

Report

The Committee has before it the fourth periodic report of Côte d’Ivoire (CEDAW/C/CIV/4).

Presentation of the Report

RAMATA BAKAYOKO-LY, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children of Côte d’Ivoire, introducing the report, stressed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development could not be achieved without eliminating discrimination against women. She underlined that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, widely disseminated by the Ministry and civil society organizations, served as a reference and a guidance for all activities that aimed to promote and protect the rights of women and girls. The report before the Committee, the Minister continued, presented the progress in the implementation of the Convention and the Committee’s previous concluding observations and recommendations, as well as an overview of key challenges in this regard. Côte d’Ivoire had undertaken major legal and institutional reforms since it had emerged from the post-electoral crisis in 2011. It had adopted in 2013 the law on marriage, which abandoned the concept of the head of family and instituted the principle of joint management of the family, and the national strategy to combat trafficking in persons. In 2014, it had put in place the National Gender Observatory and the national strategy against gender-based violence; and in 2015, it had adopted the law on the employment of persons with disabilities.

The law 2016-886 adopted in November 2016 introduced in the Constitution the principle of equality between all citizens, including a list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, including on the grounds of sex; the law assured the protection of women against all forms of violence, reinforced their political rights, and ensured equal access to posts of responsibility in the public and private spheres. In March 2019, the Council of Ministers had adopted the law on the representation of women in elected assemblies, which imposed a 30 per cent quota for women candidates. The institution of obligatory education for children aged 6 to 16 in 2015 had led to almost full gender parity among primary school students and a net rate of school enrolment of 91 per cent in 2017. The Minister then said that 61 platforms for the fight against gender-based violence had been created and that 110 community and religious leaders had solemnly engaged to combat female genital mutilation and child marriage. In 2018, Côte d’Ivoire had generalized universal health coverage, which had reduced the cost of access to health care for the most destitute. Convinced that the economic empowerment of women was the best way to eradicate poverty and gender-based violence, as well as inclusive economy growth, the Government had put in place various programmes, such as the Women’s Fund for Development with a budget of over $4 million; the Forum for Women’s Entrepreneurship with more than $8 million at its disposal; and the Fund for Support to Women of Côte d’Ivoire initiated by the First Lady, which disposed of more than $20 million. As a result, the poverty rate in rural areas had dropped from 62.5 per cent in 2008 to 56.6 per cent in 2015.

Despite all the efforts, Ms. Bakayoko-Ly concluded, several challenges remained but Côte d’Ivoire was committed to overcoming those and guaranteeing to its women the equal enjoyment of fruits of development, including through the social programme 2018-2020 and its budget of over $1.7 billion dollars.

Questions by Committee Experts

Committee Experts welcomed the recent legislative and political measures taken in the country to promote the rights of women, in particular the 2016 change to the Constitution that reaffirmed the principle of gender equality and protected women against different forms of discrimination, but raised concern about the lack of a definition of discrimination against women as per the Convention in the Constitution. What measures had been taken to harmonize national legislation with the Convention and to train judges in its implementation?

The Experts took positive note of the enactment of laws and decrees to strengthen women’s access to justice, especially the 2008 law on legal judicial assistance and the decree on fees for justice in civil cases, and asked about their impact, measures taken to raise awareness of women about those measure, and steps taken to ensure that vulnerable women benefited from those opportunities, especially the free of charge judicial assistance.

Peace was not possible without transitional justice, consolidation of the rule of law, and the fight against impunity, Experts stressed, and recalled that the recent post-electoral crisis had caused over 3,000 deaths and many victims of rape. The delegation was asked to comment on the amnesty law and its impact on sexual crimes committed during the crisis, the status of implementation of recommendations issued by the Commission on Inquiry, and the participation of women in peace building.

Replies by the Delegation

In response to questions on access to justice, the delegation said that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children had taken a number of steps to support women who were victims of violence, including sexual violence, during the post-electoral crisis; to date, 67 files had been conveyed to courts and 54 women had benefited from medical oversight and psychological support. Gender Desks within the police stations, gendarmerie, and courts facilitated the filing of complaints of gender-based violence against women. Since 2012, capacity-building workshops on gender-based violence had been dispensed to 200 judges, prosecutors and lawyers, and military personnel had benefited from similar training since 2011.

The delegation stressed that on 6 June 2016, the National Assembly had adopted the entire raft of legislative provisions amending the Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Family Code, which should soon enter into force. One of the issues addressed therein was the definition of rape.

The decentralization of legal aid had increased the number of women who benefited from it, and improved access to justice, particularly for women suffering gender-based violence. During the 2012-2014 period, 474 requests for legal aid had been received of which 84 per cent had been approved, said the delegation. Nowadays, legal support and assistance was available throughout the country and not in Abidjan only, and people were well aware that such assistance was available at the local level.

The amnesty law related to offences of threatening State security and not to other crimes, such as sexual violence. The national action plan on the implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security had been initially adopted in 2007, and was being reviewed in 2019. The National Human Rights Council had been set up under the Paris Principles and was an authority with complete moral, legal, and political independence.

Questions by Committee Experts

Commending the adoption of the laws on gender equality and quotas for female candidates for the National Assembly, Committee Experts asked about the intentions to revise the 2009 national strategy on women and gender equality to take into account the consequences and impact of the post-electoral crisis on women, as well as to reflect on the Government’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Could the delegation update the Committee on the implementation of gender budgeting by the Ministries?

The Experts further took positive note of the National Council for Women, the setting up of the National Gender Observatory, and the recognition in laws of the equal access to political and public life for women. However, in practice, obstacles remained: women made up 63 per cent of agricultural workers but only 8 per cent owned land, and despite the law on quotas for women, they remained underrepresented in the National Assembly and decision-making posts. Côte d’Ivoire should therefore resort to the use of temporary special measures to achieve the substantial equality of women and overcome structural and social barriers that women experienced in this regard, as well as adopt a framework law on gender equality.

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation said that several ministries had undertaken a gender audit, which had brought about some positive changes, such as the introduction of the Gender Directorate in the Ministry of Education in 2019. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children coordinated gender services in several ministries and was currently conducting an evaluation of this work, with the support of the African Development Bank. The Ministry had in place a major agricultural support programme with a major budget which aimed to address the precarious situation of rural women, 63 per cent of whom were engaged in agriculture. The SAHEL regional programme, which involved several countries in the region, aimed towards women’s empowerment, including through sexual and reproductive health training. Moving towards inclusive sustainable development required economic and any other empowerment of women.

Côte d’Ivoire was working on introducing gender sensitive budgeting in the work of the Government.

Questions by Committee Experts

Another Expert raised concerns about the continued prevalence of female genital mutilation and the fact that the laws and policies, including the 1998 law, had yielded virtually no results, as seen in the number of convictions for this crime since 2012, which was less than 10. What support was available to families who did not want to subject their girls to this degrading practice? In a similar vein, measures put in place to eliminate child marriage were also inefficient. The law did not provide adequate definitions of violence against women and sexual harassment, which was an essential element of the efforts to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence. The Committee was also concerned about high rates of early pregnancy, considering that in 2017, over 5,000 cases had been registered.

On trafficking in persons, the Experts took positive note of efforts to date, which included the adoption of a plan of action against trafficking in persons 2016-2020, the law on trafficking in persons, and the institution of protection mechanisms for children. The delegation was asked about the implementation of the law and the national policy, efforts to identify victims, and the cooperation between different Ministries and with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations in curbing trafficking in persons, especially children. What efforts were being made to address the demand for prostitution and protect and support women who were sexually exploited through prostitution?

Replies by the Delegation

There were regional directorates which worked on the implementation of the Ministry’s policies. The Ministry responded immediately to any emergency and activated various support services to assist victims of gender-based violence, free of charge. The Ministry was training community and religious leaders who had a critical role to play in the fight against gender-based violence and child marriages. Education in those domains was essential and change was already taking place. The Government was working
in synergy to provide and ensure access to justice to victims of gender-based violence, a delegate said, mentioning in particular the 61 gender platforms in which several Ministries were present, Gender Desks in police stations and in courts, the law on gender-based violence, as well as training and capacity-building of judges and prosecutors.

Koranic schools existed alongside public schools and followed the national curriculum. Measures taken had reduced the occurrence of child begging and child exploitation in those schools. Pregnant girls were not excluded from school and pregnant girls and young mothers were also actively working on peer to peer education on the impact of early pregnancy on girls and their education. The delegation said that early pregnancies often occurred in boarding schools, where many students were sent since schools were far from their homes. The construction of schools closer to the villages, which was ongoing, should contribute to reducing the dimension of this problem. The law forbade teachers from having sexual relations with students.

Sentences had been handed down on those who had carried out genital excision and there was no impunity, the delegation stressed. The Directorate for Children Affairs had in place the national strategy for child protection, and it cared for several categories of children, including abandoned or orphan children, children living in the street, and “difficult” children.

The body to monitor the fight against trafficking in persons, especially children, operated under the aegis of the First Lady, and it worked together with the inter-ministerial committee that dealt with the implementation of the national strategy on the issue. The 2016 law on the protection of victims provided for the protection of individuals involved in prostitution.

Questions by Committee Experts

The current representation of women in most decision-making positions had not even reached 30 per cent, women represented only 11 per cent of the members of the National Assembly, and of the 66 Senators elected in 2018, only eight were women. In this context, the 30 per cent quota for women candidates, as prescribed by the law, was insufficient to ensure gender parity in political and public representation and participation of women, the Experts stressed.

What steps were being taken to revise the Nationality Code and remove the provisions that discriminated against women in the transmission of nationality? How was the Government ensuring accessibility to civil registration centres throughout its territory?

Replies by the Delegation

A new law on marriage guaranteed the right of all women and men over the age of 18, to freely enter into marriage, which meant that women did not need anyone’s permission to marry. Only a marriage officiated by a civil official was legal, while traditional and customary marriages, allowed under the 1964 law on marriage, were no longer recognized. Religious marriage could only take place after the civil ceremony took place. All marriages concluded before the civil authority were systematically registered.

The new legislation in force since 2017 defined the acquiring of nationality following a marriage with an Ivorian – during the marriage ceremony, they had to state the wish to become an Ivorian, which would be noted down in the marriage certificate, and they could then obtain the nationality six months after the marriage. An individual or a couple had the right to adopt a child, who would get the nationality of the adoptive parent(s), irrespective of the parent’s marital status.

A fair amount of awareness raising had been undertaken on the matter of birth registration; the new birth registration mechanism was triggered by the birth of a child in the maternity hospitals, while midwives had been given the authority to issue a birth certificate. In 2018, the civil registration procedures – birth, death, marriage, had been mainstreamed.

With regard to women’s political and public participation and representation, the delegation said that the current rates were better than nothing and outlined the challenges in increasing the number of women, not least the reluctance of women to stand as candidates and take part in elected posts. Women represented half the population in the country and they had to step up and become role models, the delegate stressed.

Questions by Committee Experts

In the next round of questions, the Committee Experts commended Côte d’Ivoire for its efforts to ensure education and training of children and for allocating 22 per cent of its national budget for this purpose. In particular, the Experts welcomed the opening of the technical military school for women and allowing women to join the gendarmerie, building of secondary schools for girls, and allocating scholarships to girls who studied industry and science. Concern remained about the discrepancy in school attendance between girls and boys, 41 and 59 per cent respectively in the school year 2015/16. To address this challenge, the country had adopted a strategic plan to accelerate the education of girls, noted the Experts, and asked the delegation about the progress in its implementation.

Violence and abuse in schools were of particular concern to the Committee, the Experts said, and asked about specific measures to ensure that schools were safe spaces, the punishment of teachers who sexually abused schoolchildren, and support to girls who suffered from abuse.

Agriculture was a hugely important sector in the economy of the country, the Experts remarked, and stressing the importance of linking education and employment strategies and the importance of eliminating discrimination against women in the economy, asked how Côte d’Ivoire would make the necessary qualitative leap and enable its women to achieve their full potential. In this sense, what were the priorities for the country, and how did it plan to empower women in accessing education, training, financing, technology, and in particular digital and social protection.

Replies by the Delegation

Compulsory education enabled almost full gender parity in primary school, while boys outnumbered girls in secondary and higher education. This certainly perpetuated gender inequalities and the unequal participation of women in the economy as well. Among the obstacles to the greater school attendance of girls were lack of latrines in schools, early pregnancies, and low parental awareness of the importance of the education of girls, especially in rural areas. Education was also key in the fight against child marriages, for educated women rarely allowed their girls to marry early.

Literacy centres had been set up throughout the country, including on digital literacy, which brought about spectacular results in terms of women’s empowerment. Illiteracy rates had dropped from 51 per cent in 2014 to 42 per cent in 2017.

One of the measures to promote youth employment was the opening of employment offices in municipalities, the delegation said, and informed the Committee that Côte d’Ivoire had set an objective of creating 500,000 jobs, of which half would be reserved for women and youth. The AgriFed programme dealt with supply chains for five key products: cacao, shea butter, cassava, cashews, and rice, the delegation said, noting that 50 per cent of the cacao and cashews were processed in the country and that Côte d’Ivoire had obtained organic certification in the United States for its shea butter. The majority of workers in these sectors were women and the aim was to create another 20,000 jobs by 2021. Côte d’Ivoire was very aware of the importance of digital technologies and had marked the 2019 International Women’s Day under the theme “digitization, a solution for women’s empowerment”.

The country was strongly committed to the Sustainable Development Goals; there was the Ministry for Sustainable Development, and the University had hosted the largest regional programme on sustainable development and climate change which trained experts from all over the African continent.

Questions by Committee Experts

The Experts said that the efforts to improve the situation of health were impressive, most notably the increase in the portion of the national budget allocated to the provision of health care, the adoption of the act on the universal health system, the setting up of the college for nurse and midwife training, and the adoption in 2012 of a package of free care policy to improve the affordability of health care for the general population and children in particular. What health services were free of charge under this package and what measures had been taken to ensure the implementation of the act on the universal health system, particularly in rural areas and for women in the informal sector.

Abortion was legal only if pregnancy presented a grave danger for the life of the mother. Clandestine abortion rates were very high and occurred throughout the country. Were there any plans to legalize abortion for rape, incest or severe foetal impairments, and what was being done to reduce the number of clandestine abortions and reduce maternal mortality rates? Was nutritional support available to the poorest children free of charge?

The Experts welcomed the country’s agricultural investment plan and asked about the access of women to land, credit, and decision-making structures, as well as the establishment of a pension scheme for self-employed workers and especially women in the informal sector.

Replies by the Delegation

The only exception to the complete ban on abortion was when pregnancy represented a risk to the life of the mother. Major parts of the national budget were being allocated to health and education, the delegation said. Over 300 new health centres were being built to combat maternal and infant mortality, and 7,000 were being rehabilitated. Over the past two years, infant mortality had been reduced from 102 to 80 per 1,000 live births. The number of child visits to qualified doctors had increased and malaria morbidity had been reduced due to bed net distribution programmes.

Family planning and contraception were legal, however, the rate of use was very low, only 13,9 per cent. The aim was to increase the prevalence of contraception use to 36 per cent by 2020.

Questions by Committee Experts

The major challenges facing Côte d’Ivoire were better distribution of the fruits of growth and combatting the feminization of poverty, which was particularly acute for rural women. The delegation was asked about steps taken to facilitate the access of rural women to land titles and the Government policy to adapt to climate change, especially in the context of the increasing rates of deforestation in the country. The Committee raised a number of questions about the situation of women with disabilities, including on their access to justice, education and training, and physical access to Government buildings. The situation of women in the country would not improve if the State did not guarantee safety and protection to women human rights defenders, in particular those who worked on environmental issues.

What percentage of traditional marriages had been registered after the awareness-raising campaign and how were the rights of women in those marriages protected? What was the status of the law that set the age of marriage at 18 without any exceptions? The delegation was asked about steps to reduce the incidence of polygamous marriages and protect the rights of women in such unions, and the intended revision to the provisions governing the custody of children to ensure the responsibility of both parents in this regard.

Replies by the Delegation

In response to those questions and comments, the delegation said that there was only one kind of marriage in Côte d’Ivoire – a monogamous union between a woman and a man. Polygamy had been abolished in 1967, while traditional and religious marriages were not recognized. The Ivorian coalition of human rights defenders was in place, as was the law on the protection of human rights defenders.

Rural women and women making their living in agriculture, fishing, and in coastal regions bore the brunt of climate change. Côte d’Ivoire had adopted the national programme for the fight against climate change and had submitted its nationally determined contributions for emission cuts under the Paris Agreement. The Ministry for Sustainable Development was the lead in the implementation of the actions to counter the effects of climate change. The national agricultural investment plan was also concerned about climate change and aimed to support women most affected by climate change.

Concluding Remarks

RAMATA BAKAYOKO-LY, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children of Côte d’Ivoire, in conclusion thanked the Committee Experts for their attention and for their support for the promotion and protection of women’s rights in her country. Côte d’Ivoire had made huge strides, with the support of non-governmental organizations and bilateral and multilateral partners, but recognized the need to ensure that all women shared the benefits of the progress.

HILARY GBEDEMAH, Committee Chairperson, in her concluding remarks, thanked the delegation and invited Côte d’Ivoire to accept an amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the Committee’s meeting time. The Chair commended the State party for its efforts and urged it to pay particular attention to the Committee’s concluding observations identified for immediate follow up.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CEDAW19.018E