Concluding comments of the Committee - CEDAW : Denmark. 21/06/2002.
A/57/38, paras.302–355. (Concluding Observations/Comments)
Convention Abbreviation: CEDAW
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women: Denmark
302. The Committee considered the fourth and the fifth periodic reports of Denmark (CEDAW/C/DEN/4 and CEDAW/C/DEN/5 and Add.1 and Corr.1) at its 561st and 562nd meetings, on 12 June 2002 (CEDAW/C/SR.561 and 562).
Introduction by the State party
303. In introducing the report, the representative of Denmark informed the Committee that non-governmental organizations had had the opportunity to comment on implementation of the Convention in Denmark. The Government had been implementing the actions identified in the Beijing Platform for Action, which had had a significant impact on Denmark's gender equality policy. Increasing emphasis had been placed on violence against women, trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, unemployment among women and sex segregation in the labour market, since the consideration of Denmark's last periodic report by the Committee.
304. A new law on gender equality had been introduced and there had been a change in the national machinery for the advancement of women since the submission, in 2000, of the fifth periodic report. The former Council for Gender Equality had been replaced by a new three-part structure comprising a Minister for Gender Equality, a Knowledge Centre for Gender Equality and a Gender Equality Board. The Knowledge Centre will be closed down in July 2002 as a State-funded organization. It will continue as a private foundation connected to the University of Roskilde. The Gender Equality Act May 2000 stated that the work to promote gender equality in Denmark consists of a two-pronged strategy, gender mainstreaming and affirmative actions/specific priorities. The Minister for Gender Equality presents an annual Report and an Action Plan to the Parliament on the concrete specific priorities. A Steering Committee has, on behalf of the Minister, prepared a five-year action plan on gender mainstreaming.
305. Gender mainstreaming and the integration of women's rights were critical elements in Denmark's development assistance strategy, in which special attention was paid to women living in poverty; women's rights, including the right to own and inherit land; violence against women, including trafficking; the access of women and girls to health and education; and women's access to financial services, business development assistance and trade opportunities.
306. The representative described the goal of Denmark's gender equality policy as ensuring that women and men were equal partners and were given equal possibilities to choose how they want to live their lives. Women made up 44 per cent of the newly elected committees. The share of women in Parliament was 38 per cent. Labour market participation of women was high at 75 per cent, and women had, on average, 1.7 children, indicating that work could be combined with family life. Factors contributing to that were the existence of many public care facilities for the young, the elderly and other dependants and the fact that young men were increasingly taking on their share of family responsibilities. The Government had expanded parental leave schemes, increased parental grants for childcare in the home and guaranteed day care. Access to part-time work had also been expanded. Areas of concern included the pay gap between women and men and sex-segregation in the labour market. Only 41 per cent of women from ethnic minorities were active in the labour market, but the Government was making special efforts to address that issue.
307. The elimination of violence against women was a priority, and a three-year action plan with a special focus on women from ethnic minorities, women with disabilities and children had recently been presented by the Government. Efforts to eliminate trafficking in women and children had been intensified. To combat forced marriages, funds had been given to NGOs to ensure assistance to young people from ethnic minorities while the age for family reunification of spouses had, for all citizens, been raised from 18 to 24 years.
308. Another representative indicated that, in 2002, in Greenland, legislation focusing on equal treatment of women and men with respect to public services and employment had replaced older Danish and pre-Home Rule legislation. The Equal Status Council, which had been established in 1998, had provided input during the development of the new legislation and had commissioned a survey on gender equality in the household, workplace and other areas of public life. It had also appointed, as part of a pilot project, gender equality ambassadors to liaise between the Equal Status Council and the public in five municipalities. An action plan on gender and violence was also being produced under the auspices of the West Nordic Council, with the participation of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Greenland Home Rule Government was sensitive to the importance of ensuring that family and working life were balanced, and legislation had been passed on maternity leave and pay for mothers and fathers in order to give both parents an opportunity to spend time with their infant children. The representation of women in the Government and the municipalities was high at 67 per cent, and they dominated the health, education and social affairs sectors. Six of the 12 Deputy Ministers, and 19 per cent of members of Parliament were women. Education and capacity-building were regarded as crucial to ensuring equal opportunities in the labour market, and data showed that the majority of those commencing education or training programmes were women and that the dropout rate of women was lower than that of men.
309. Another representative indicated that there were very few legislative obstacles to women's enjoyment of equal rights under Faroese Law. In 1994, the Faroese Parliament had enacted the Act of Equality between Men and Women, which sought to ensure gender equality in the labour market, education, all public committees, councils and boards. In 2002, the Act on Maternity Leave providing fully paid maternity leave for 28 weeks had been passed. The Government was seeking to increase the period of maternity leave to 52 weeks. In the Faroe Islands, the number of women in Parliament was low, as was the representation of women in decision-making positions in the private sector. Where gender-based violence was concerned, a domestic violence crisis centre had been established by a non-governmental organization.
310. Each representative expressed commitment to the implementation of the Convention in all parts of Denmark, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and assured the Committee that there would be a national follow-up and debate on its concluding comments.
Concluding comments of the Committee
311. The Committee expresses appreciation to the State party for its fourth and fifth periodic reports, which comply with the guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. It commends the State party for its interaction with non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the reports and is pleased that the comments of non-governmental organizations on the implementation of the Convention were again included as annexes to the report. The Committee also expresses its appreciation for the information given in response to the issues raised by the pre-session working group and during the oral presentation.
312. The Committee expresses appreciation for the inclusion of representatives from the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the delegation.
313. The Committee commends the State party for its efforts to strengthen the promotion of gender equality and women's rights in Denmark through a wide range of laws, policies and programmes within the context of the provisions of the Convention and the Beijing Platform for Action. It also commends the realization of de jure equality of women and men in many areas of the Convention, especially with regard to economic and social benefits and marriage and family life.
314. The Committee commends the State party for appointing a Minister for Gender Equality, thereby making gender equality policy a part of the Government's politics and affording a greater potential to directly influence the political decision-making process, and for establishing the Gender Equality Board, comprising a judge and two lawyers with expertise in the areas of gender equality and labour market conditions, respectively, that handles complaints about gender-based discrimination in the labour market, the education, health, social and finance sectors, and in private enterprises.
315. The Committee commends the State party for its efforts to incorporate gender mainstreaming into its overall policy framework, including by formulating an action plan for 2002-2006 for the Danish inter-ministerial gender mainstreaming project with a steering committee comprised of representatives from all ministries, while at the same time implementing women-specific programmes to encourage gender equality.
316. The Committee welcomes the action plan to stop violence against women, which seeks to give victims the support they need, provide training for professionals and establish multidisciplinary cooperation, break the cycle of violence through corrective treatment of offenders and improve prevention through gathering data on the causes and scope of violence against women.
317. The Committee welcomes the State party's cooperation with the other Nordic and Baltic countries in two working groups under the Nordic Council of Ministers with regard to trafficking in women. The Committee commends the State party for signing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and its Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. The Committee notes that the Parliament has given its consent to ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
318. The Committee also commends the State party for having accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention and for having ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Committee also welcomes the fact that a number of recommendations in its concluding comments, adopted when Denmark last reported, have been implemented.
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
319. The Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic legislation. It notes that the Committee on Incorporation of Human Rights Conventions into Danish Legislation, appointed by the Minister of Justice in 1999 to examine the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating the general human rights treaties into Danish legislation, on completing its work in October 2001, recommended that the Convention, despite being considered central to the protection of human rights, should not be incorporated into Danish legislation. The Committee also notes that the Constitution does not contain a specific provision on discrimination against women.
320. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to incorporate the Convention into domestic law, when considering the recommendations of the Committee on incorporation of human rights conventions into Danish legislation. The Committee requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report, including whether the Convention has been invoked before domestic courts.
321. While noting that the State party's gender policy appears to be formulated primarily in the framework of the Beijing Platform for Action and European Union provisions, the Committee is concerned that the Convention has not been given central importance as a binding human rights instrument and basis for elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the advancement of women.
322. The Committee urges the State party to place emphasis on the Convention as a binding human rights instrument, and to view the Platform for Action as a complementary policy document to the Convention in its efforts to achieve the goals of equality. It furthermore urges the State party to take proactive measures to raise awareness about the Convention.
323. The Committee is concerned at the closure of the Danish Board for Ethnic Equality, which had been established in June 1997, inter alia, to provide advice on the question of discrimination and ethnic equality for the Danish Parliament, the Government, the central and local administration and private organizations, and the Danish National Centre for Research and Information on Gender Equality, which had been established in May 2000 under the Act on Gender Equality. The Committee notes that some of the work of the former Centre will be done without State funding under different institutional arrangements.
324. The Committee recommends that the State party reconsider its decision to close these two institutions and continue, in all circumstances, to earmark funds for their activities if those will be undertaken under other institutional arrangements, to enable them to continue their independent contribution to the achievement of gender equality in the State party.
325. While noting the creation of an equal pay network for companies interested in exchanging experience on the reasons for the gender-based division of labour, the pay differential and methods of guaranteeing equal pay and that women's participation in the labour market is at an impressive 75 per cent and their unemployment rate is low at 5.6 per cent, the Committee is concerned at the persistence of the wage gap between women and men.
326. The Committee urges the State party to develop policies and adopt proactive measures to accelerate the eradication of pay discrimination against women, including job evaluations, collection of data, further study of the underlying causes for the wage gap and provision of increased assistance for social partners in collective wage bargaining, in particular in determining wage structures in sectors dominated by women in order to address the gender segregation in the labour market. The Committee requests the State party to provide more information in the next periodic report on its efforts to eradicate the wage gap.
327. While commending the State party for having surpassed the critical 30 to 35 per cent threshold in terms of representation of women in decision-making in Parliament, the Committee expresses concern that women's representation remains low in executive and decision-making positions in municipalities and counties as well as in the private economic sector.
328. The Committee urges the State party to take measures to increase the representation of women in decision-making positions in all sectors, including in the municipalities and counties as well as in the private economic sector. It recommends that the State party take steps to facilitate the options available to women in the private sector, inter alia, through the implementation of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, wherever possible. It also recommends that the State party improve the design of the temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and monitor their application.
329. Noting the high number of women in the lower ranks of the Foreign Service, the Committee nevertheless expresses concern about the low level of representation of women in the higher levels of the service, in particular in ambassadorial posts.
330. The Committee recommends that the State party introduce special temporary measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention to increase the representation of women at higher levels in the Foreign Service, particularly as ambassadors.
331. The Committee expresses concern that, despite the high achievement of women in tertiary education, there are distressingly few women professors in the universities. It also expresses concern at the apparent imbalance in the access of women academics, as compared with men academics, to research grants and other resources.
332. The Committee urges the State party to adopt policies to ensure that women professors are not discriminated against with regard to access to professorships and senior positions, resources and research grants so as to increase the number of women in senior positions in universities.
333. The Committee is concerned about persistence of stereotypical attitudes towards women, which threaten to undermine their rights and make them vulnerable to violence, including domestic violence.
334. The Committee calls upon the State party to take additional measures to eliminate stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including through awareness-raising and educational campaigns directed at both women and men and at the media. It also calls upon the State party to undertake an assessment of the impact of its measures in order to identify shortcomings and to adjust and improve these measures accordingly.
335. Noting that reliable statistical material will become available later in 2002, the Committee regrets the very limited available data and information with regard to the scope of violence against women, including domestic violence.
336. The Committee urges the State party to include in the statistical material, sex-disaggregated data and information on the nature and scope of violence against women, including within the family and any new forms of abuse, and to include this information in its next periodic report. The Committee also urges the State party to continue its efforts to implement and strengthen policies and programmes aimed at combating violence, with special attention given to migrant and minority women.
337. The Committee is concerned that Danish residents who arrange for female genital mutilation abroad are not liable to prosecution in Denmark unless female genital mutilation is a crime in the country in which it is performed.
338. The Committee urges the State party to penalize all Danish residents who arrange for female genital mutilation regardless of where it is performed in order to eliminate this harmful traditional practice.
339. While noting that the State party places priority on efforts to address the issue of trafficking in women through, inter alia, seminars, analysis and cooperation with the other Nordic and Baltic countries, the Committee expresses concern that despite these efforts trafficking in women and girls continues to exist.
340. The Committee requests that the State party report on any developments in this regard in its next periodic report, including whether there have been any prosecutions for trafficking in women and girls. The Committee also encourages action in Denmark and, through the State party, continued efforts within the European Union to combat trafficking in women, including measures to prevent trafficking, the collection of data, the provision of services for trafficked women and measures to penalize those who facilitate such trafficking.
341. The Committee is concerned that the Aliens Act, which although gender-neutral, indirectly discriminates against women.
342. The Committee recommends that the State party review the Aliens Act and revoke those provisions that are incompatible with the provisions of the Convention, particularly article 2, which prohibits direct and indirect discrimination.
343. The Committee expresses concern about the situation of migrant, refugee and minority women in Denmark, including discrimination in education and employment and at the gender-based discrimination and violence that they experience.
344. The Committee urges the State party to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination against migrant, refugee and minority women. It encourages the State party to be proactive in its measures to prevent discrimination against migrant, refugee and minority women, both within their communities and in society at large, to combat violence against them, and increase their awareness of the availability of social services and legal remedies.
345. The Committee regrets the introduction in new legislation of an increase in the age limit for spousal reunification from 18 years to 24 years of age in order to combat forced marriage.
346. The Committee urges the State party to consider revoking the increase in the age limit for family reunification with spouses, and to explore other ways of combating forced marriages.
347. The Committee is concerned that the situation of foreign married women with temporary residence permits who experience domestic violence will worsen when the amendment to the Aliens Act enters into force on 1 July 2002, which will increase the required number of years of residence from three to seven before a permanent residence permit may be obtained. The Committee is also concerned that these women's fear of expulsion will be a deterrent to their seeking assistance or taking steps to seek separation or divorce.
348. The Committee recommends that revocation of temporary residence permits of foreign married women who experience domestic violence, and legislative changes on residency requirements should not be undertaken without a full assessment of the impact of such measures on these women.
349. The Committee is concerned that, under the amended Aliens Act, some women who do not have refugee status might be forcibly repatriated to where they had been subjected to rape and/or other atrocities and may face the threat of further persecution.
350. The Committee urges the State party to refrain from forcibly repatriating such women and to ensure that repatriation in these circumstances is voluntary.
351. While welcoming written material provided by the delegation during constructive dialogue, the Committee regrets that information in the report about the situation of women in the Faroe Islands and Greenland was very limited.
352. The Committee urges the State party to include detailed information on the implementation of all aspects of the Convention in the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the next periodic report.
353. The Committee requests the State party to respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the Convention. It also requests that future reports not make reference to previous reports but briefly summarize previously stated information.
354. Taking account of the gender dimension of declarations, programmes and platforms for action adopted by relevant United Nations conferences, summits and special sessions (such as the special session of the General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (the twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (the twenty-seventh special session), the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Second World Assembly on Ageing), the Committee requests the State party to include information on the implementation of aspects of these documents relating to relevant articles of the Convention in its next periodic report.
355. The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Denmark of the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Denmark, in particular administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure the de jure and de facto equality of women and of the further steps that are required in this regard. It requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women's and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee's general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century".