UN Women's Rights Committee Highlights Romani Women's Issues in Macedonia

03 April 2006

On 20 February 2006, the Roma Centre of Skopje (RCS), the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), and the Open Society Institute's Roma Women's Initiative (RWI) welcomed the Concluding Comments of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on Macedonia's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Committee convened in January to review Macedonia's Initial, Second and Third periodic report on measures to implement the Convention.

The Committee expressed specific concern about the situation of Romani women, as well as Albanian women and rural women, stating that "rural women, as well as ethnic minority women, particularly Roma and Albanian women, remain in a vulnerable and marginalized situation, in particular with regard to access to education, health, employment and participation in political and public life." The Committee also expressed particular concern over "high school dropout rates among Roma girls and girls living in rural areas."

In their Concluding Comments, the Committee urged the State Party to:

  • "implement effective measures to eliminate discrimination against rural women, as well as ethnic minority women, in particular Roma and Albanian women, and to enhance their enjoyment of human rights through all available means, including temporary special measures";
  • "implement measures to decrease dropout rates among Roma girls and girls living in rural areas and to reintegrate them into the educational system";
  • provide, in its next report, "a comprehensive picture of the de facto situation of rural women, as well as of ethnic minority women, in particular Roma women, in the areas of education, health, employment and participation in political and public life, and of the efforts of the government to eliminate discrimination against these women" as well as "concrete projects directed at Roma women under the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015."

After welcoming legislative changes taken to combat violence against women, the Committee also expressed concern about the "high prevalence of violence against women, including domestic violence." The Committee then urged the Government to:

  • "give priority to putting in place comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, recognizing that such violence is a form of discrimination and constitutes a violation of women's human rights under the Convention";
  • "further elaborate and effectively implement legislation on violence against women, so as to ensure that perpetrators are effectively prosecuted and punished, and that victims receive adequate protection and assistance";
  • "provide shelters for women victims of violence";
  • and "implement educational and awareness-raising measures that highlight the unacceptability of all forms of violence against women and that it aim such efforts at law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health providers, social workers, community leaders and the general public."

In the run-up to the review, the RSC, the ERRC and OSI, with financial and technical assistance from UNIFEM's Bratislava office, submitted a parallel report to the Committee highlighting key areas of concern for Romani women in Macedonia, including discrimination in access to education, employment and health, and issues related to domestic violence. The RSC, the ERRC and OSI now urge Macedonian authorities to implement the Committee's recommendations in full. Full text of the Committee's Concluding Comments available HERE.



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