Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women considers report of Ukraine

21 January 2010

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has considered the combined sixth and seventh periodic report of Ukraine on how that country implements the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Mykola Maimeskul, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, introducing the report, said recently the whole issue of ensuring gender equality in Ukraine had become increasingly topical. The exercise and application of the principle of equality in all spheres of society and at all levels of power was being seen as a prerequisite for the establishment of a modern, civilised and equitable society, and for Ukraine's inclusion in the international community. Overcoming gender inequality in all spheres of the development of society and the elimination of discrimination was part of the approach of the State and of social life, and was an integral part thereof, thanks to the active participation in work to ensure equality by representatives of the institutions of power, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations, with the support of international organizations working in Ukraine.

In questions and issues raised during the discussion, Experts asked, among other things, what was the legal status of the Convention and whether there were cases in which it had been invoked before the national courts; whether it was correct to assume the mistrust of citizens in the judiciary and in the Government as a whole, and whether this was why women's organizations were not inclined to bring cases before the courts; whether there were any specific programmes in place to address the needs of particular groups such as minorities with regards to stereotypes; the increasing reports of domestic violence every year and the lack of data on domestic violence such as how many women were killed by male partners or how many cases of physical or psychological violence occurred; a request for what was the most recent initiative to address directly the under-representation of women in decision-making and high-level managerial bodies in the public, political and judicial institutions; and whether entrenched patriarchal attitudes in the home were being addressed, particularly with regards to factors which exacerbated their domestic and economic subordination.

Naela Gabr, Committee Chairperson, in preliminary concluding remarks, said the Committee understood the country situation, including that it was undergoing a critical phase in its political situation, as well as the difficult economic situation and the level of poverty. What was important was that women did not pay the price of poverty, whether it be in terms of health, psychological balance, or the educational opportunities open to them, or being subject to violence. This was the crux of the matter. It was important that the delegation go home and stress that projects and Bills must be adopted and implemented. Where there was a political will, there was a way - what was important was health for women, education for women, and their psychological and physical security.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Maimeskul said Ukraine appreciated the enormous attention given to it by the Committee, and was very grateful for the very detailed, open and highly professional interest in the whole question of gender equality in Ukraine. In spring of this year, Ukraine planned to hold hearings in the Parliament Committees on establishing a Plan of Action to undertake the implementation of the recommendations made here today and in the Concluding Observations, which would be definitely included in the draft State programmes for 2011-2015, which had already begun to be drafted.

Also among the delegation were representatives of the Ministry for Family, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science, and of the United Nations Development Programme's project Equal Opportunities and Women's Rights in Ukraine.

The next meeting of the Committee will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, 22 January, when it will consider the sixth periodic report of Malawi (CEDAW/C/MWI/6).

Report of Ukraine

The combined sixth and seventh periodic report of Ukraine (CEDAW/C/UKR/7) covers two reporting periods (1999-2006). It was prepared in the light of the United Nations recommendations on reporting under the Convention, the recommendations of the Women’s Watch organization, and the concluding observations and recommendations of CEDAW following its consideration of Ukraine’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report. Part 1 of the draft report contains general information about Ukraine: the country’s geopolitical characteristics, the State and national administrative arrangements, the electoral system, population numbers and age structure in gender terms and its composition in terms of nationalities, standards of education, the language and the religious situation. It also contains social and demographic data on the country (the numbers, composition, age structure in gender terms, and standards of education), and the chief features of the current economic/demographic situation, as well as reporting on the health of girls and women and reviewing the core principles of the utilization of the national machinery for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men. Part 2 of the draft report consists of an article-by-article review of the implementation of the Convention.

In accordance with the Beijing Platform for Action, the basic goals of the national machinery for the realization of gender equality are to develop, promote, implement, monitor, assess and publicize the policies and mobilize support for them. The fundamental purpose of the national machinery is to secure the enactment of legislation on gender equality and monitor its application, as well as to ensure the effective functioning of the institutions responsible for carrying out the State’s gender policies. It must also ensure the formulation of special programmes, projects and action plans for the conduct of research and training in gender equality. The general shape of this national machinery is set out in the Equal Rights and Opportunities Act, which was adopted by the Supreme Council in September 2005 and entered into force in January 2006. However, more detailed arrangements for the implementation of this Act have yet to be introduced, despite the fact that the need to improve the status of women and promote gender equality was already being discussed in Ukraine in Soviet times.

The declaration on general principles of State policy concerning the family and women, adopted by the Supreme Council on 5 March 1999, is one of the most important documents for the formulation of the State’s approach to tackling the problems of Ukrainian women. The declaration envisages inter alia promotion of the involvement of women in all the development processes of modern society, in the drafting and adoption of economic, political, social and legal decisions at all levels of central and local government, and expansion of women’s role in the national-cultural, social, economic and spiritual development of society as part of the building of an independent State. A presidential decree dated 24 May 2000 approved the “Fundamental directions of social policy up to the year 2004”, a document which defines the basic principles of the State’s policy for women during that period, chiefly: to guarantee women genuine access to all forms of activity and equal rights with men in the labour market; to conduct preventive, epidemiological and other medical research on protection of the health of children, women and men; to develop and introduce up-to-date medical technology for the care and maintenance of women’s health and new ways of encouraging a healthy lifestyle, producing healthy children, and raising physically healthy and spiritually enriched citizens; to enhance the legal awareness of families, women, children and young people concerning their personal rights; to prevent unemployment among women and young people by creating new jobs; and to furnish State support to women’s, youth and children’s voluntary and charitable organizations engaging in social work.

Presentation of Report

MYKOLA MAIMESKUL, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, introducing the report, said recently the whole issue of ensuring gender equality in Ukraine had become increasingly topical. The exercise and application of the principle of equality in all spheres of society and at all levels of power was being seen as a prerequisite for the establishment of a modern, civilised and equitable society, and for Ukraine's inclusion in the international community. Overcoming gender inequality in all spheres of the development of society and the elimination of discrimination was part of the approach of the State and of social life, and was an integral part thereof, thanks to the active participation in work to ensure equality by representatives of the institutions of power, the private sector, and NGOs, with the support of international organizations working in Ukraine. The Government had been working to achieve the norms and standards set out in the Convention. On September 8, 2005, the Parliament had adopted a law on ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women, which came into force in January 2006, aiming to ensure equality between men and women through providing legal underpinnings for this concept, and establishing a mechanism to ensure and oversee gender equality. In April 2008, the Parliament adopted a law making amendments to certain legislative documents, including the Labour Code, the law on the right to assembly, and others. A Commission to eliminate all forms of discrimination had also been established in certain bodies, and they aimed to oversee practical considerations on issues related to equality between men and women.

Ukraine had recognised the relevance of gender issues, and had established a strong legal basis to ensure that the principles of equality were upheld. The national mechanism for oversight of gender equality was established, with a coordination role held by the Ministry for Family Affairs, Youth and Sport. There were coordination bodies at the local level to deal with equality issues, and people were appointed for gender equality in all Secretariats of the Parliamentary Committees, in the Ministries, and at regional levels. Over the last ten years the national statistical system had been developing data on gender statistics on the basis of the goals and objectives set out in the frameworks of national policy and it was planning to carry out international obligations in these areas. A list of indicators had been prepared and was being developed on the basis of a break-down by sex and on the degree to which the national information base corresponded to international statistical standards.

Questions of gender equality in the workplace were being considered with attention, and gender audits had been held, following the methodology of the ILO, in national bodies, in order to establish to what extent gender equality had been established in, among others, the labour market. Technical assistance was being provided to monitor the degree to which legislation complied with the programmes and policies aiming to provide gender-sensitive services for workers and employees. The question of gender equality and prevention of discrimination in the workplace was of particular importance, and studies were being implemented to provide aid to employers in means to prevent discrimination and prevent sexual harassment of employees. Work was being done to ensure gender neutrality and equality in collective agreements. The law on discrimination covered both de jure and de facto discrimination, and Ukraine legislation clearly showed that the violation of the principle of non-discrimination could be considered as a violation of human rights. An analysis of sectoral legislation made it clear that any form of discrimination, including on the grounds of sex, was banned, viewed as a violation of the law, and led to criminal liability.

Questions by Experts

In a first round of questions, Experts asked, among other things, about the lack of a system of penalties to ensure that commitments were legally enforced and that violations of the Criminal Code in this regard were punished; what were the reasons for the delay in reporting; what was the legal status of the Convention and whether there were cases in which it had been invoked before the national courts; what was the Convention's real visibility and use; whether indirect discrimination was covered in the law on equal opportunities and the need to ensure that it was; whether it was correct to assume the mistrust of citizens in the judiciary and in the Government as a whole, and whether this was why women's organizations were not inclined to bring cases before the courts; what was being done to make the Convention and the Optional Protocol familiar to the judiciary and to women's organizations and what were the policies in increasing and enhancing the trust of civil society in the protection of human rights; what steps would the Government take in strengthening the role of the Ombudsman and the sensitivity to gender discrimination; what was the role of the courts in determining the constitutionality of statutory laws and whether the courts had the power to strike unconstitutional laws down; a request for information on whether there was a non-formal system of dispensing justice within the country, or whether all legal disputes were resolved by the formal court structures; whether there were any situations where the right to equality could be negotiated or compromised on the grounds that there were also rights to religion, culture or tradition that were guaranteed; and what was the role of central Government mechanisms in ensuring gender equality and how they were able to carry out a role with regards to promoting, supporting and coordinating the application of gender mainstreaming throughout the Government.

Response by Delegation

Responding to these issues and others, Mr. Maimeskul said Ukraine was involved in a process that was normal and democratic. The delegation said, with regards to legislative provisions guaranteeing equality, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was ratified in 1981, and in 2003 the Optional Protocol was ratified, and was part of domestic legislation. All ratified documents were a part of the national legislation and acted as a source for shaping and improving national legislation. In 2005, after lengthy discussions, a law was adopted on ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women, in which legislators, experts, scholars and NGO representatives tried to reflect the basic provisions of the Convention. On penalties imposed for non-implementation of the provisions of this law, the Criminal Code contained an article which provided for punishment for any form of discrimination, including on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, belief, or sex. This attested to the fact that provisions on this matter did exist in national legislation, and there were isolated cases of the application of this article in the Code. In the Ministry of Family Affairs, Youth, and Sport, an expert body had been set up to receive complaints from citizens on cases of gender discrimination.

The Ombudsman was not the only body in Ukraine that received complaints from citizens, the delegation said; the system was not a simple one, but complaints could be sent to law-enforcement bodies, including the police, to the Procurator's Office, to the courts, and also to the leading officers in companies or public authorities. The officials responsible for ensuring the implementation of gender policies in the State power had the right to apply measures in the case of complaints. In 2009, the Assistant to the Ministry on Human Rights had received complaints from policewomen on gender discrimination. In the draft for the new Labour Code which was being considered by Parliament, wording had been introduced to define sexual solicitation or harassment, and the responsibility of the employer in such cases; unfortunately, the draft had been before the Parliament for many years. Amendments to the Criminal Code had been made on violence within the family. In 2009, the Ministry on Family, Youth and Sport had independent experts study the laws of Ukraine on ensuring equal rights and opportunities on the basis of the relevant conventions, and the outcome of this study showed that discrimination on the basis of sex was defined as it was in the Convention. At the same time, a huge number of proposals were made with the aim of improving the laws, and the speaker hoped these would be implemented.

On the national courts, projects were being carried out and manuals were being issued for study to the courts on model cases and with a commentary on the Convention. Judges and other court officials were being trained in this regard. The Ombudsman dealt with gender issues, but so did other bodies. Labour inspectors and people who monitored the implementation of labour provisions needed to be trained in how to detect discrimination against women on the basis of sex. The State programme on gender equality was constantly carrying out training for these units, and commissions had been established to consider such cases. The Commission to coordinate affairs had been established to coordinate what was being done by the different Ministries in this regard. Monitoring of programmes was done by NGOs, independent experts, researchers and scholars. The development of national mechanisms had taken place very slowly. Under Ukrainian legislation and the law on equality, there was provision for a special body, but the powers of that body were at the moment delegated to the Ministry on Family Affairs, Youth, and Sport. All Ministries had organised working groups on the implementation of gender equality, ensuring a horizontal coverage of the issue.

By resolving sectoral issues, work was being done to resolve central issues. There was a Committee on the legal issues of gender equality, which was attached to the Ukrainian Commission on Women's Rights. The next State programme would be established with a clear set of qualitative and quantitative methods to assess its progress. The national system was based on proportional representation, and members of Parliament came from the parties coming first in the national elections. Some of the parties had adopted, on their own initiative, a gender policy when establishing lists, such as the Green Party, who had issued 50 per cent lists in the last election. Many companies recruited on the basis of the provision of advantages to women and provided equal opportunities - special advantages for women were provided for in legislation such as that on the social protection of families, pension services and other special services. There was a draft programme for State support to people of Roma nationality between now and 2015, and the Government was working to resolve issues related to the Roma.

Questions by Experts

In a second round of questions, Experts raised, among other things, stereotypes, as a major obstacle for women achieving true equality in all spheres, and whether measures applied in this regard were being assessed; whether there were any specific programmes in place to address the needs of particular groups such as minorities with regards to stereotypes; whether a gender approach had been included in work to overcome stereotypes; the increasing reports of domestic violence every year and the lack of data on domestic violence such as how many women were killed by male partners or how many cases of physical or psychological violence occurred; the need to make the sanction on domestic violence and to make more effective remedies against it and whether there were any plans to sanction it through other means than fines; whether access to crisis centres was easy for women victims of domestic violence, including Roma and elderly women and whether these centres also functioned as rehabilitation centres; how the law on rape defined this phenomenon in the Criminal Code; whether women were able to access the police and Prosecutor's Office and whether the latter received gender-sensitive training in order to receive complaints from such victims; whether there were investigations into ethnically-motivated occurrences of violence; and a request for more information on protection orders, whether they were available, and whether it was possible to prevent a violent husband from entering the home.

Response by Delegation

Responding, the delegation said there was an amazing task of raising awareness and tolerance of those who were of a different race, religion or gender. Last year, for the first time the State had prepared and introduced a specific country report on how gender equality was reflected in education, and recommendations had issued therefrom. The educational standards for pre-school, primary and secondary school had been analysed, along with the curricula and textbooks, which contained a whole set of factors which could be termed covert discrimination, such as there being many more pictures of men than of women in the textbooks. The State had set itself the standards of changing norms in primary schools by the end of this school year. With regards to the Roma, work was being done to promote entry by Roma children to schools. The Ministry of Education had set up a programme to work for inclusive schooling to bring in children with specific physical and educational needs, as well as children of different nationalities and of various religious communities. Pre-schooling could be provided in eight languages, and the school curricula was taught in nine languages, and 19 national minority languages could be studied, all at the request of the parents of the child. There were many conditions which had been created - free education was guaranteed, and textbooks were provided in various languages.

With regards to violence, national legislation provided for criminal liability for propaganda on this matter, and sanctioned the use and production of materials on this matter. The holding of pornographic articles was sanctioned - there was progress on this matter. There was a National Expert Commission on the Protection of Social Morals, and measures to eliminate materials that were of a violent or sexual nature were being considered. The Commission had adopted criteria for audio-visual and electronic media on erotic and pornographic materials and materials that propagandised violence, and these had to be borne in mind by the media and other institutions, the delegation said. On domestic violence, there had been an increase in the number of registered complaints, and comments had been made that this meant there was an increase in the number of incidents, however, all that it indicated was that the police were recording more cases. Previous to 2003, the police did not register such complaints, and people did not complain about domestic violence. The increase in the figures was thus positive, showing that more victims were ready to go to the police, and that the latter were registering these complaints as incidents of domestic violence. The increase in the figures would record a better attitude on behalf of the police and the public.

With regards to fines for domestic violence, there had been a draft to change this part of the law, but instead the fines had been increased several times by Parliament. However local judges were encouraged not to use fines as the primary means for discouraging domestic violence, but to use other measures such as administrative detention. There was a shortage of crisis centres. Domestic detention could be carried out after the first fact of domestic violence had occurred, which was not the case before, when there was a need for a pattern of incidents. There was also a system of corrective programmes to work with the perpetrator of the violence. Changes were expected in the level of application of the law, as well as in the legislation itself. There was also a specific programme to encourage women's integration into the police force, and there was a positive trend in this regard. On changing stereotypes in respect of violence, there was the Stop the Violence Campaign, and men were taking part in that campaign, including leading sportsmen and politicians, and it was hoped this would help to eliminate stereotypes. Women in rural areas also received help and social protection, as did elderly women, and there were centres that came under the Ministry of Labour that provided aid and support on a range of issues. The Plenary Session of the Supreme Court last year endorsed a decree on the consideration and interpretation of cases involving violence and sexual violence, and issued instructions on how to deal with these and avoid judicial error.

With regards to trafficking in people, the delegation said legislation conformed to the Optional Protocol on combating transnational and organised crime. Prostitution was not a crime in Ukraine. There were plans to combat trafficking in people, and the organisation of assistance to victims was being considered. Active use had been made of international documents when preparing legislation, including the Council of Europe's text on trafficking in persons. Labour agencies with State licensing were rarely involved in trafficking in people - the main flows went through unregistered intermediaries. With regards to compensation for victims of crime, there was a Bill that was currently going through the second reading in Parliament. Permanent seminars were carried out for persons working in prisons to help them to be sensitive to issues of violence. A manual had been developed for school children on equality, and a course had been drawn up in teaching institutions to prevent the spread of gender stereotypes among children, and a course on gender equality was obligatory every year in each school.

Questions by Experts

In a further round of questions, Experts raised, among other questions and issues, whether there was any ability to initiate temporary special measures with regards to elections to, for example, the local assemblies and Government advisory and working bodies; a request for what was the most recent initiative to address directly the under-representation of women in decision-making and high-level managerial bodies in the public, political and judicial institutions; what was the role played by the Legal Secretariat of the various Ministries; the need to ensure that legal issues were in line with what was done in practice; and the need to increase the political participation of women, as this influenced the perception of them in society, as well as in education, and the need to include more women on the electoral lists in this regard.

Response by Delegation

Responding, the delegation said with regards to the representation of women in Government and other authorities, there were different figures available from what was in the report. Today, almost 15 per cent of high-level positions were occupied by women, including the Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the National Security Body. Twenty per cent of second-tier posts were held by women. The Ministry of Social Policies was headed by a woman - the most gender-sensitive Ministry. There were also women Ambassadors. However, the figures were insufficient, and this would be taken into account in the future. There was a special decree on preparing civil servants on the base of parity, but this year people would be appointed to civil service posts on the basis of parity. On the examination that prospective civil servants had to sit, there were questions on parity and gender equality. Hopefully, progress would be achieved on this matter in the near future. At the same time, the Government was carrying out ongoing training of staff members, and there was a special institute for special training in this regard, with a special section dealing with gender equality and fighting trafficking.

In 2002, Mr. Maimeskul said a law on the diplomatic service had been adopted, and amendments to it were now being considered. Previously, there were only 3 per cent of women in the diplomatic service, but there was a positive and stable trend in this regard. At the end of December 2009, 20 per cent of posts were occupied by women. With regards to international organizations, not everything depended on what the State did - previously, there was a principle of seconding people, but now there was a different approach based on competition, geographic representation, skills and knowledge of languages. Citizens, including women, participated in these competitions.

Questions by Experts

Among further issues and questions raised by the Committee was the apparent threat to maintaining gender parity in higher education, mainly affecting the humanities and socio-economic matters, with an increasing gender imbalance favouring males; how were issues being addressed to ensure that girls were not disadvantaged at all levels of the education system, and that their human potential and economic activity was not curtailed due to this educational imbalance; to what extent was there a plan to introduce a mandatory full course on gender and its impact on education in all teacher preparation programmes; whether entrenched patriarchal attitudes in the home were being addressed, particularly with regards to factors which exacerbated their domestic and economic subordination; a request for further information on what was being done to remove barriers to education for the Roma; how laws on equality were being implemented in the private sector; whether women were sensitised to their rights and how many labour complaints had been registered; what was the function of the Office of the Procurator General and local procurators in ensuring compliance with legislation; whether a review of the definition of sexual harassment would be envisaged in order to include the concept of the creation of a hostile environment to the victim; what was the extent of the freedom to join the trade union of one's choice; and the need to include data in the next report on the situation of Roma women in employment and what effective measures were taken to combat discrimination in this regard; what was being done with regards to HIV/AIDS infection; issues related to abortion; and the need to ensure the application of all the provisions of the Convention to the situation of rural women and the need to ensure the full funding of the rural health system as well as to improve rural women's access to health care.

Response by Delegation

Responding to these issues and others, the delegation said that after the report had been prepared, there had been some positive results in various fields. As of today, there had been a return to the 1999 levels, and school coverage of children was 57 per cent. This was not a very high figure, but a Presidential Order mandated 75 per cent. Over the last year, more than 100 new pre-school facilities had been opened, and the overall number now was more than 15,000, giving mothers the opportunity to leave their children and go to work. Different methodologies had been prepared to ensure pre-school coverage for children up to the age of five or six. Work continued with parents, and the State often faced gender stereotypes in family education, having to confront patriarchal attitudes. In secondary education, the level of quality of education for boys and girls was the same for both groups, and this was highly valued. Every 10 years, there was a review of the quality of education, and norms would be reviewed shortly. On higher education facilities, there were private colleges for fee-paying students, but these were only 18 per cent of the total. There were 63 per cent of female students in the humanities in State-run educational institutions, in journalism over 80 per cent were women, and 86 per cent were in health. In military education, there were 10 per cent women.

The enrolment in higher educational institutions was based on independent, competitive examinations, that were similar for all applicants, whether rural or urban, and the figures of attendance were approximately the same, destroying the myth that education in rural areas was worse than in cities. Several manuals had been prepared for secondary-school students and those in higher-educational facilities to provide further sensitisation to gender equality issues. Educational institutions had to provide gender sensitisation training. On prevention of HIV/AIDS, the numbers of transmissions from mothers to children had been reduced to 4 per cent in 2009. In the area of health protection, the delegation said, a lot had been done, including in prevention of HIV/AIDS. Steps were being taken to reduce the number of abortions and distribute contraceptives. The Ministry of Education had started in 2005 to hold a special course on health protection, including reproductive health, in schools, which was a mandatory course, and also distributed manuals to both girls and boys on these matters.

The State continuously monitored implementation of legislation, in collaboration with the Supreme Court, trade unions, and other institutions and bodies. The Labour Code prohibited the refusal of work to women or the reduction of their salary on any basis, including pregnancy or the presence of minor children. Single mothers were protected and received extra vacation time. Inspections had shown violations of women's rights, and these cases had been submitted to the relevant authorities, and the heads of these companies had been dismissed. There were 620 cases before the courts where women's rights were violated in the workplace, showing that all areas were working on the implementation of women's rights in Ukraine, from the police to the trade unions and the courts. There were centres for social support in all cities, and disadvantaged women, such as disabled women, were provided support through these. There were special maternity wards in rural areas in order to provide assistance to women, in particular women in villages far away from major centres, and assistance was also provided to women to find work in small businesses. There was also a system of small credits, and women could register an enterprise through a simplified procedure. Each district had specific medical facilities for women, providing services such as mammograms, the delegation said, and there were also mobile medical clinics, ensuring that village populations received medical services and tests. There were no situations where women gave birth without medical aid and supervision - there were laws prohibiting non-professional medical services for such matters such as interruption of pregnancy. There were facilities allowing women to give up their children anonymously.

Special documentation had been prepared for teachers and psychologists, and a National Plan of Action had been created for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular with regards to child labour. The Criminal Code had been brought into line with the Convention on Transnational Crime, and work was being done with social organizations and the Ministry of Health, and there were positive steps in this regard as well, the delegation said.

Questions by Experts

In a final round of questions, Experts raised, among other things, the discrepancy in the legal age for marriage between girls and boys, which was not in line with the Convention and whether the Government was considering changing this; a request for information about the scope of unregistered marriages such as religious marriages which were not considered formal marriages, and whether the legal system provided for any protection in such unions in particular for women; whether women could make use of their entitlements in the context of property rights within a marriage and whether there was a mechanism to safeguard their rights in this regard; what was the definition of property for the purpose of "community property" in a marriage and how this affected pension rights or other financial rights acquired in the context of employment such as severance payments; whether there was a mechanism to provide for disparities in the economic situation of men and women in situations of divorce; and the need to change the pictures used in the anti-violence campaign as they exposed women's body parts that could be considered erotic.

Response by Delegation

Responding to these issues, the delegation said marriageable age for men was 18, and 17 for women, and this was for historical reasons. To date, according to the Ministry of Justice, in 2004, 4.4 per cent of registered marriages were concluded by women under 18. This was something that arose in the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and a study would be carried out to determine what changes needed to be made in the legislation in this regard. In the Family Code, Ukraine recognised civilian marriages - people who contracted a civil marriage had the same rights concerning children and property as those who were in registered marriages. With regards to property rights, there was a guarantee that women's rights would be ensured. Women who had lost their husband had a right to his pension due to the loss of the breadwinner. This was also part of the mechanism to ensure property rights and the reception of income. With regards to the Stop the Violence campaign and the images, all had been assessed by national experts, psychologists and jurists, and they had chosen the pictures used.

Responding to brief follow-up questions, the delegation said that most of the Parliamentarians had refused to talk about quotas, and most were against it, however, public NGOs were doing a great deal to encourage discussion of positive examples. At a high level, discussions were underway on this subject. The Bill on trafficking of persons had also been discussed at a large number of levels, including NGO level, and should now be sent by the Cabinet to the Parliament. A positive decision on this issue was expected - many Ministries had already adopted this Bill without comment. On poverty, there had been monitoring by international organizations, NGOs, civil society and independent organizations up to 2009, who sent their findings to the relevant Ministry, which was considering the issue further. Money was allocated to centres for the rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.

Concluding Remarks

MYKOLA MAIMESKUL, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said Ukraine appreciated the enormous attention given to it by the Committee, and was very grateful for the very detailed, open and highly professional interest in the whole question of gender equality in Ukraine. In spring of this year, Ukraine planned to hold hearings in the Parliament Committees on establishing a Plan of Action to undertake the implementation of the recommendations made here today and in the concluding observations, which would be definitely included in the draft State programmes for 2011-2015, which had already begun to be drafted.

NAELA GABR, Committee Chairperson, said the Committee understood that the delegation had a huge amount of information, but the time of the meeting was limited. The Committee understood the country situation, including that it was undergoing a critical phase in its political situation, as well as the difficult economic situation and the level of poverty. What was important was that women did not pay the price of poverty, whether it be in terms of health, psychological balance, or the educational opportunities open to them, or being subject to violence. This was the crux of the matter. It was important that the delegation go home and stress that projects and Bills must be adopted and implemented. Where there was a political will, there was a way - what was important was health for women, education for women, and their psychological and physical security.
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