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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN REVIEWS THE REPORT OF AUSTRIA

10 July 2019

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today examined the ninth periodic report of Austria on its implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Introducing the report, Helmut Tichy, Legal Advisor at the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention had had a significant impact in the country. The National Action Plan on the Protection of Women against Violence had been adopted; the legal provisions on sexual violence, including sexual harassment, had been considerably extended; and further legislative measures to combat cyber violence and forced marriages and to improve victims’ rights had been taken over the past five years. The high gender gap continued to be a challenge; although it had been reduced from 22.3 per cent in 2013 to 19.9 per cent in 2017, it remained significantly above the European Union average of 16 per cent. Gender-specific income disparities were, among others, still rooted in stereotypical educational and professional choices, therefore Austria continued its successful initiatives to attract more women and girls to scientific and technical vocational training and professions. Fighting against discrimination and strengthening the rights of women and girls all over the world had been a priority of Austria’s foreign, development, and integration policy for many years.

In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts commended Austria’s adherence to the principle of non-discrimination and its ample equal treatment legislation, its pioneering experience in gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting, and the innovations in protecting women and girls from violence. However, women were still underrepresented in political and public life, and in leadership positions in most private sector companies; there was stagnation and even setbacks in protecting women against violence, especially domestic violence; while financial support for non-governmental organizations dealing with women’s issues had been cut by 6.7 per cent between 2018 and 2019. Anti-gender, discriminatory, and sexist discourse and hate speech, both online or offline, that was not condemned by the higher authorities, permeated the whole society, while calls for traditional roles and values hindered the advancement of human rights of women and girls. Austria remained a destination country for trafficking in persons for sexual and labour exploitation - over 95 per cent of identified victims were women trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation and more than 60 per cent of them came from European Union Member States.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Tichy noted Austria’s many achievements in the implementation of the Convention, and remaining challenges too, some of which were connected to migration.

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

The delegation of Austria consisted of representatives of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs; Federal Chancellery; Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research; Federal Ministry for Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice; Federal Ministry of Defence; Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection; Federal Ministry of the Interior; Austrian Development Agency; as well as representatives of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Austria 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 Thursday, 11 July at 10 a.m., to consider the ninth periodic report of Cabo Verde (CEDAW/C/CPV/9).

Report

The Committee has before it the ninth periodic report of Austria (CEDAW/C/AUT/9).

Presentation of the Report

HELMUT TICHY, Legal Advisor at the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, introducing the report, said that Austria, following upon the Committee’s recommendations, had withdrawn its last reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and had repealed the regulation governing employment bans and restrictions for female workers in 2015. In the same year, for the first time, a systematic and comprehensive German commentary to the Convention had been published as a result of collaboration between Austrian, German, and Swiss lawyers. Austria had continued its dual approach with affirmative action for the advancement of women on the one hand and gender mainstreaming in various policy areas on the other. To overcome gender stereotypes, a great variety of programmes and projects were being carried out at the national and regional levels, such as the annual Girls’ Day, which aimed to provide girls with insight into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professions, while the annual Boys’ Day gave boys the chance to familiarize themselves with careers in social institutions; the new teaching principle on reflexive gender education and equality; and teachers training to develop diversity-oriented gender competence.

The ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention, had had a significant impact in Austria, noted Mr. Tichy. The National Action Plan on the Protection of Women against Violence had been adopted; the legal provisions on sexual violence, including sexual harassment, had been considerably extended; and further legislative measures to combat cyber violence and forced marriages and to improve victims’ rights had been taken over the past five years. In 2018, a task force had been set up to develop recommendations in the field of victim protection, preventive work with offenders, and further improvement of criminal justice protection against violence, especially sexual violence. In February 2019, the Government had adopted 50 individual measures and had developed a proposal for their implementation; the proposal had been opened for public consultation in May 2019. Among the proposed amendments were the introduction of a mobile protection zone of 50 metres around victims of domestic violence, and criminalization of female genital mutilation as a stand-alone criminal offence.

Strengthening the socio-economic equality of women had been one of the main aims in the efforts to achieve gender equality, said Mr. Tichy, and mentioned in particular the adoption in 2017 of the act on equality between women and men in supervisory boards of companies. The high gender pay gap continued to be a challenge; although it had been reduced from 22.3 per cent in 2013 to 19.9 per cent in 2017, it remained significantly above the European Union average of 16 per cent. Gender-specific income disparities were, among others, still rooted in stereotypical educational and professional choices, therefore Austria continued its successful initiatives to attract more women and girls to scientific and technical vocational training and professions. To improve the splitting of childcare between the parents, family time bonus and the partnership bonus had been introduced, which were granted in connection with childcare allowance.

For the first time, the Austrian Programme for Rural Development 2014-2020 included funds for social measures and investments in education and childcare facilities, and home care services; care facilities were eligible for funding. The Operational Programme Employment Austria 2014-2040 included, for the first time, a specific focus on investment to promote gender equality in the labour market; one of the aims was to increase the employment of refugee women. Over the past five years, €6.5 million had been allocated to more than 140 projects of the Women Funding Programme in the framework of the National Action Plan for Integration. Fighting against discrimination and strengthening the rights of women and girls all over the world had been a priority of Austria’s foreign, development, and integration policy for many years. Special attention was given to the fight against gender-based violence, in particular female genital mutilation, the political and economic empowerment of women, and the implementation of the United Nations agenda on women, peace and security.

Questions by Committee Experts

At the beginning of the interactive dialogue, Committee Experts commended Austria’s adherence to the principle of non-discrimination, particularly in its international cooperation, and took positive note of the fact that the principle of equality had been anchored as a constitutional right more than 100 years ago. The delegation was asked to clarify the constitutional definition of discrimination and asked whether it included prohibited grounds of sex and gender. Would the Convention be implemented as direct, applicable and constitutional law in Austria, similar to the European Convention for Human Rights?

Commending the ample equal treatment legislation which aimed to ensure substantive equality between men and women in many areas of life, the Expert asked whether the legislation would be extended to cover all areas of life in the country. Turning to Austria’s federalism system, the Expert asked whether the cooperation between the nine Länder on the issues of advancing and protecting the rights of women was satisfactory. What system was in place to ensure uniform implementation of the Convention across the Länder?

The 2014 administrative reform had broadened the mandate of the Constitutional Court, noted another Expert, and asked the delegation to explain the level of understanding of the letter and spirit of the Convention, both by the Constitutional Court and the administrations in the Länder. The Committee remarked with satisfaction that in 2015 and 2016, Austria had been at the forefront of European efforts to protect refugees and asylum seekers, and asked the delegation to explain how asylum seeking women were protected, particularly those whose asylum applications were rejected.

The delegation was further asked to explain its political vision for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals in its international cooperation, and to explain the impact of the many measures taken during the 2016-2020 period to strengthen the integration of Roma. What measures were being taken to achieve A status accreditation under the Paris Principles for the Ombud institution?

Replies by the Delegation

Austria was very proud of its Constitution and in particular its article 7 which referred to the equality of all citizens before the law and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of gender. Unlike other international treaties, the European Convention for Human Rights was a part of the constitutional law. Parliament had the right to decide that other international instruments would be implemented through national laws, which was the case for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

On coordination between the Federal Government and the Länder, the delegation said that according to the devolution system, the Federal Government could step in and ensure that international obligations were implemented in the regions. The Bundes-Länder dialogue was an institutionalized dialogue on equal treatment between the responsible administrative levels. This was a very good place to see what was happening in the regions and to exchange views on a regular basis, noted a delegate.

The Ombud institution had been founded in 1977, one of the first such institutions in central Europe, said the delegation, explaining that according to the Constitution, the three biggest parties in Parliament had the right to nominate members of the national Ombud board, who were however appointed by Parliament. Although the Equal Treatment Act did not cover all the grounds and all areas, it was important to note that all nine Länder had developed their own equality treatment frameworks which covered more areas. In addition, Austria had put in place the Ombud for Equal Treatment.

The 2030 Agenda was being mainstreamed and each ministry decided how to approach this task, said the delegation, stressing that gender was mainstreamed in all the Sustainable Development Goals. In that sense, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women served as a guide and was very important for Austria. Goal 4 on education and goal 5 on gender equality had been integrated in the steering instruments in the education sector, and were part of the output-oriented budgeting. Monitoring systems for Austrian development cooperation integrated the Sustainable Development Goals indicators, thus it was possible for Austria to measure the impact of its international aid on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, including goal 5 on gender equality.

The integration of Roma was one of the priorities. The National Roma Integration Strategy up to 2020 had been updated with the participation of Roma themselves, with an aim to fight against anti-Gypsyism. The Roma Dialogue Platform monitored its implementation. Austria was supporting programmes for the integration of Roma in the Western Balkans through its development cooperation.

Between 2015 and 2018, Austria had received over 100,000 asylum-seekers, a huge challenge for the country, particularly in the area of housing and shelter. Nobody was badly treated or disadvantaged because of the long wait for their applications to be processed, the delegation stressed. Female asylum-seekers who suffered trauma had the right to be processed by female officers and to use the services of female interpreters, although it was not always possible to find female interpreters in the required language. Furthermore, they had the right to be accommodated separately from men, if they so wished. The delegation explained that if a family sought asylum in Austria and only the husband had a valid reason, the whole family was eligible for asylum. If asylum was granted to a woman, she could demand family reunification.

Questions by Committee Experts

The Committee commended Austria’s pioneering experience in gender mainstreaming and in particular the implementation of de facto equality of men and women in public budgeting in all federal ministries since 2013, and asked the delegation to share their experiences and results. What measures were being taken to address and finance measures to combat multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, the Experts asked, and requested more details on the interaction between the Ombud and the Equal Treatment Commission and, on the women’s service line for migrants.

Since 2011, an important number of service centres for women had been set up and annual subsidies for women counselling had increased by 10 per cent. And yet, gender-based violence and domestic violence remained a major concern, which called for an examination of the resourcing of the efforts to prevent those phenomena. What was the allocated budget in 2019 to those services and centres and which results and impacts had been achieved?

Why were quotas for the political representation of women temporary in nature? What was the share of women in federal units? Women were still underrepresented in leadership positions in most private sector companies, the Experts remarked, and asked about the plans to address this imbalance.

Replies by the Delegation

The Financial Act 2013 requested each federal ministry to develop up to five goals on which to spend resources, one of which had to be a gender equality goal. All the goals had to be accompanied with a set of indicators to measure the progress and the implementation, on the basis of which annual reports were submitted. Annual progress reports were published and the achievements were discussed in Parliament. In the education sector, the focus was on strengthening gender equality structures and broadening gender competences of teachers; in agriculture, the target was to integrate gender in agriculture and forestry education and to achieve gender parity among students by 2026, considering that in 2015, women and girls represented 46 per cent of the graduates.

In 2019, the budget for the Division for Women and Equality stood at over €10 million of which 52 per cent would be spent on counselling for women and girls and specific projects, 48 per cent would be allocated to finance the protection from violence, in particular the violence protection centres, and four per cent would be used to fund information and awareness raising.

The law on funding of political parties and parliamentary groups had been amended in July 2019, under which the funding would be increased for those parliamentary groups which had women’s participation of at least 40 per cent.

Questions by Committee Experts

Austria had a good reputation for innovations in protecting women and girls from violence, Committee Experts remarked, and commended its leadership in Europe in this domain. They welcomed the passing of the Protection against Violence Act, the setting up of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on the protection of women against violence, and strengthening of rights of highly vulnerable victims in criminal proceedings. The Experts stressed that anti-gender, discriminatory, and sexist discourse as well as hate speech, online or offline, that was not condemned by the higher authorities, permeated the whole society. Calls for traditional roles and values hindered the advancement of human rights of women and girls. Concern was raised about the stagnation and even setbacks in protecting women against violence. According to Eurobarometer’s European Union-wide comparison on gender-based violence, Austria performed well below average as far as attitudes and mind-sets were concerned. Financial support for non-governmental organizations dealing with women’s issues had been cut by 6.7 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

Austria remained a destination country for trafficking in persons for sexual and labour exploitation, the Experts said with concern, and noted that over 95 per cent of identified victims were women trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation. More than 60 per cent of trafficked women came from the European Union Member States, they noted, and asked the delegation to outline the measures in place to identify and protect the victims and provide them with necessary support services. A working group on trafficking and labour exploitation had been set up in 2012 to raise awareness about the phenomenon in the labour inspectorate and the authorities, the Experts remarked, and asked the delegation about the impact of this work. How many perpetrators of trafficking in persons had been brought to justice and what sentences had been handed down? Could the delegation explain the mechanism in place to facilitate cross-border cooperation in the fight against trafficking in persons and outline the major achievements?

Replies by the Delegation

In 2018, the Federal Ministry for Education had adopted the teaching principle on reflexive gender education and equality, which was being used by university colleges for teacher education, the board of education, and schools. The principle aimed to reduce prejudice and expand individual space for manoeuvre, reducing stereotypical assignments, eliminating prejudice against boys and young men interested in the education profession, and supporting the greater involvement of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and professions, with the final aim of reducing the gender gap and stereotypes in profession.

The Austrian Advertising Council committed itself to comply with the provisions of its self-restrictions code to avoid discriminatory or derogatory representation of women in the media and sexism. Different federal States had in place watch-groups that monitored advertising for sexual content.

In 2017, Austria had arrested 66 people for human trafficking and 75 people for cross-border human trafficking. In 2018, there had been three convictions for human trafficking and six convictions for cross-border trafficking in persons. In 2014, 20 convictions had been handed down and in 2013, 25 individuals had been convicted for trafficking for prostitution. The most recent case involved six defendants and 17 victims, all Venezuelan citizens; at its conclusion this spring, four defendants received prison sentences between four and six years; one defendant escaped; and one defendant who had been a juvenile at the time of the crime had been sentenced to three years. Several of the 17 victims had received a five-figure euro compensation.

To date, approximately 550 police officers had received training allowing them to recognize people implicated in trafficking in persons; training activities would continue. Since 2015, each police officer was obliged to participate in regular mandatory training programmes that lasted three to five days, during which they learned about human rights norms and standards, new laws and regulations, etc.

The capacity of the shelter for victims of trafficking in persons in Vienna had been increased and some 80 women benefitted from safe accommodation annually. The budget for the victims’ services had been increased by 15 per cent from 2018 and 315 women had been supported by the so-called intervention centre for women victims of trafficking. Victims had the right to judicial and psycho-social assistance during criminal proceedings; in 2010, some €4 million had been spent on assistance for victims and over €7 million in 2018. The delegation explained that the major task of the working group on trafficking and labour exploitation was spreading knowledge and awareness raising. The upcoming project would focus on the areas of domestic workers and personal assistance.

Questions by Committee Experts

The Experts remarked on the great ethnic, language, and religious diversity of the Austrian population, and asked about the political participation and representation of women from national minorities, as well as the participation of Roma women in decision-making posts and structures. Why was the percentage of female mayors so low?

With regard to citizenship, the Experts remarked on the strict criteria governing the applications for citizenship, which, because of the very high income threshold structurally discriminated against women, especially as unpaid care work was not taken into account. Were there any intentions to integrate gender concerns in this procedure?

Replies by the Delegation

Austria accorded particular importance to the participation of non-governmental organizations, and had put in place a number of mechanisms to facilitate their participation and consultations on a range of issues, for example on the work of the Commission on the Status of Women. Financial assistance was available to those non-governmental organizations which wanted to take part in Austria’s review by this Committee. While the overall budget for Women’s Affairs and Equality remained unchanged, cuts had had to be made in subsidies to non-governmental organizations, but the Government was especially careful not to cut those that supported projects that provided direct services to women.

In Parliament, women represented 36.6 per cent. Austria was very much aware of the low representation of women among the mayors, which stood at 8.3 per cent. A number of parties had adopted voluntary quotas for the participation and representation of women. Support programmes and mentoring were available for those women who wished to pursue a career in politics. The low representation of women in politics was the result of gender stereotypes, the male-dominated culture, and the burden of unpaid work, which mainly fell on women.

Within migrant families, women were often drivers of integration, the delegate remarked, and said that this was supported by the increase in budgets for women’s projects, especially migrant women, from €1.4 million in 2016 to €2.3 million in 2019. Another €1 million went to integration projects which aimed to combat violence against women and female genital mutilation in migrant communities.

Significant progress had been made in the representation of women in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs over the past year. Gender parity had been achieved among Directors-General and 50 per cent of the diplomatic staff born after 1975 were women. Women represented 33 per cent of ambassadors and for the first time, a woman was ambassador to the Holy See. Austria had put in place a programme for the advancement of women, which included activities such as job sharing and shadowing, teleworking and flexi-time, or the elimination of the need for Foreign Service staff who fell pregnant while on duty to return to Austria. Women represented more than 50 per cent of the staff in the Ministry of Justice and 56 per cent of judges, prosecutors and judges in training. The share of women in leading positions had increased and stood at 40.5 per cent.

Questions by Committee Experts

Committee Experts welcomed the many initiatives to eliminate stereotypes in education, in particular the Femtech Award for girls in technology and science. However, major challenges remained in the education system, in particular high school dropout rates for girls of migrant background, who were three times more likely to drop out than the average. Had a study been conducted on the root causes of this phenomenon, as the Committee had previously recommended? What steps had been taken to ensure that the law on religious clothing would not increase dropout rates of migrant girls?

The education system was not inclusive and there were still special schools and sheltered employment structures for women and girls with disabilities. The new initiative, Together for Our Austria 2017-2020, aimed to promote special rather than inclusive education, the Experts noted with concern, and asked the delegation how it planned to mitigate the outcomes of this initiative that would further exclude women and girls with disabilities from mainstream education.

The gender pay gap in Austria was one of the biggest in the European Union, Experts noted, and added that transparency in salaries was an essential element in getting rid of the gender pay gap. They welcomed the policy that required companies with 150 or more employees to disclose the salaries. However, most women worked in smaller companies – would those be required to be transparent about pay? Another factor contributing to the gender pay gap was part-time employment – what was being done to reduce the number of women in part-time work? When would the age of retirement for women and men be equalized, since it was currently 60 for women and 65 for men?

Why had Austria not made the improvement of parental leave a priority, in order to ensure equal sharing of parental duties between both parents and to enable women’s continued participation in employment?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to questions raised on the choice of profession, the delegation said that the Ministry of Education focused on structural issues, processes and target groups; it had a monitoring system in place and paid particular attention to awareness raising along the entire education chain. Teachers and career advisors in schools were trained in gender and diversity issues. As a result, progress was being achieved, and more girls and women chose science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects and professions.

The school dropout rate of boys with migrant backgrounds, even second and third generation, was generally higher than for girls, but a study as recommended by the Committee had not been conducted. The main focus of the policy for migrant pupils was for them to remain in education at least until the age of 18. Youth coaches were in place to support students and strive toward the implementation of this policy. Multiple projects were in place to support the school retention of migrant children, for which €2.7 million had been allocated, mainly for extracurricular support and language training.

The Compulsory Education Act 2016 decreed that compulsory education was until 18 years of age, in order to enable students to meet the requirements of life and the labour market. The ban on headscarves, which applied to girls under the age of 10, would not affect their schooling, the delegation said, because education up to the age of 15 was compulsory.

Poverty and social exclusion of women were important issues and Austria had put in place a number of measures to tackle the problem. Low and mid-range pensions had been increased, which had a particularly beneficial impact on women. Furthermore, the State had introduced the equalization supplement for those who were on lowest pensions and were qualified. The alignment of the statutory pension age would start in 2024 and would gradually bring the age of pension to 65 for all. Women were allowed to stay in work even after the statutory pension age, and there were certain professions, such as civil servants, where the age of pension for all was 65.

A number of projects had been instituted to support women’s entry in the labour market such as requalification programmes or support for women who were re-entering the world of work after childbirth.

Questions by Committee Experts

The Experts commended Austria for putting in place a health system, which was fully accessible to women, including for termination of pregnancy which was legal, and asked about the priorities in the new action plan and the resources allocated to it. Would access to abortion be enlarged by including the cost in the medical insurance and by authorizing private clinics to issue the morning after pill? Austria seemed to be the only European country where the contraceptive pill was not included in health insurance, the Experts said, and encouraged the country to ensure that condoms were freely available to teenage boys.

The national action plan on disability contained targets to improve access to health services, particularly gynaecologic services, for women with disabilities. What measures were in place to protect them from forced sterilization? How was the right to physical integrity of intersex children guaranteed?

What was the effect of the 2013 tax reform on the increased employment of women and on poverty reduction among women? Was there a pension or social protection scheme for vulnerable women, such as migrant women? What was being done to expand access to full-time childcare in order to enable women’s full participation in employment?

Replies by the Delegation

Austria was the first country in Europe to adopt an action plan for women’s health in 2017, which focused on a range of topics of relevance and on reduction of inequalities in health. The issue of free contraceptives had already been discussed and there was no public health insurance which covered this cost. First Love ambulances, staffed by gynaecologists, nurses, social workers and psychologists, provided reproductive health services, advice, and counselling to teenagers. They were run by the Austrian Society for Family Planning in partnership with the Government and hospitals.

Abortion was generally not covered by health insurance, which primarily was focused on diseases. The guidance on treatment of intersex children prohibited surgeries for purely cosmetic purposes under the age of 16. Activities were ongoing to sensitize doctors about female genital mutilation and how to treat women who had undergone this practice.

The 2015 tax reform had had some positive impacts on the situation of women, but it was still too early to get clear data. As for the pensions for vulnerable persons, there were disability pensions for workers. The expansion of childcare institutions and education had occurred during the 2008-2018 period, under which the number of childcare institutions had been increased, their opening hours were extended to 45 hours per week, they could not be closed more than five days a year, and they had to offer lunch to children. During the 2018-2019 period, the Federal Government had invested €400 million into strengthening childcare services.

Questions by Committee Experts

In the final round of questions, the Experts noted that the social protection of women in agriculture had not improved, agricultural schools were mostly attended by boys, while the situation of seasonal agricultural workers was precarious. Congratulating the incorporation of non-discrimination provisions in the Penal Code in 2015, the Experts asked about its impact on the situation of women in Austria, especially those who suffered multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination such as women with disabilities. Women with disabilities tended to work in sheltered employment which did not provide social protection, they were not covered by the ordinary labour law. How was gender mainstreamed in the mental health law and policy? Same-sex unions did not enjoy the same status as civil unions.

The Committee commended the efforts to raise awareness about legal reforms, noting that they went a long way to strengthen legal literacy of women with regard to their rights under the Family Law. On forced marriage, which in 2016 had been criminalized as a stand-alone crime, the delegation was asked about the prosecutions and sentencing of perpetrators and the number of victims or potential victims that had sought shelter in Vienna. Could the delegation update the Committee on the progress in abolishing no-fault divorce?

Replies by the Delegation

The gender index, introduced in 2011, had shown in 2018 that gender specific differences had generally decreased, although they remained stronger in rural than in urban regions. The new rural development plan contained a budget of €235 million for social services and institutions in rural areas, such as schools, childcare centres, and elderly care. The plan also envisaged mentoring and leadership training courses for women, with a view to their empowerment. Special employment projects for persons with disabilities were very diverse, but all were connected with health insurance, while those on long term contracts contributed to social insurance. The Equal Treatment Act covered persons with disabilities.

In 2018, 36 victims of forced marriage had been accommodated in the shelter, with an average stay of 67 days. Forced marriage had been criminalized in 2016, when the definition had been broadened. In addition, Austria had a very broad concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction for conduct that happened abroad. Nevertheless, the number of convictions was indeed very low. Recently, a representative of a leading non-governmental organization in this field had declared that since forced marriage had become a crime, communities had developed other conducts such as other forms of unions, for example forced engagement.

Concluding Remarks

HELMUT TICHY, Legal Advisor at the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, concluded by noting Austria’s many achievements in the implementation of the Convention, and remaining challenges too, some of which were connected to migration.

HILARY GBEDEMAH, Committee Chairperson, in her concluding remarks, commended Austria for its efforts and urged it to pay particular attention to the Committee’s concluding observations that would be identified for immediate follow up.


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