Concluding comments of the Committee - CEDAW : Mexico. 23/08/2002.
A/57/38,paras.410–453. (Concluding Observations/Comments)
Convention Abbreviation: CEDAW
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women: Mexico
(a) Introduction by the State party
410. The Committee considered the fifth periodic report of Mexico (CEDAW/C/MEX/5) at its 569th and 570th meetings, on 6 August 2002 (see CEDAW/C/SR.569 and 570).
411. In introducing the fifth periodic report, the representative of Mexico stated that her country had made significant progress in the twenty years since its ratification of the Convention on 3 September 1981 and that, since July 2000, Mexico had been in a process of democratic transition following a change of government. The head of the new government had articulated its political will by describing support for progress for women as "an ethical responsibility and a demand of democracy and justice". Mexico had amended the first article of the Constitution to prohibit all forms of discrimination, including on the grounds of gender, and had created the National Women's Institute (INMUJERES) with a mandate to foster, in society and its institutions, a culture of gender equity.
412. Among the most important advances achieved by INMUJERES had been the strengthening of institutions in matters of gender through the creation of a six-year work plan, the National Programme for Equality of Opportunities and Non-discrimination against Women, 2001-2006 (PROEQUIDAD), which applied to all sectors of the federal public administration. The Government had signed the National Agreement for Equality between Men and Women, by which the Cabinet and the judicial and legislative branches of the federal Government undertook to comply with the general aims of PROEQUIDAD. Thirty laws dealing with women's political participation, sexual harassment, social security, social development, job discrimination and violence had been tabled. An Inter-institutional Panel of Gender Liaisons had been created to evaluate and follow-up compliance by the executive with commitments on gender issues. INMUJERES was creating a gender indicators model to evaluate the living conditions of women, the integration of a gender perspective in State activities, the position of women in decision-making bodies and their access to justice and participation in its administration.
413. In relation to compliance with obligations under the Convention and commitments in the Beijing Platform for Action, the Government had, inter alia, ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on 15 March 2002; designed and implemented various programmes to combat stereotypical gender roles; approved a draft decree to amend the Federal Electoral Institutions and Procedures Code to make gender quotas obligatory in the next five federal election processes; created a scholarship programme in the Ministry of Education as an affirmative action measure to bridge the gender gap in educational retention; established a women and health programme in the Ministry of Health; and created an integrated, gender-sensitive poverty eradication policy known as CONTIGO ("with you") guaranteeing a better quality of life for Mexicans.
414. Combating violence against women was one of the priorities of PROEQUIDAD. INMUJERES had created an Institutional Panel to Coordinate Preventive Action and Attention to Domestic Violence and Violence against Women, which provided a national framework for coordinated action against violence against women. Within that framework, a National Programme for a Life Without Violence 2002-2004 was currently under discussion with civil society, and legislation dealing with domestic violence had been passed in 15 states. Specific programmes to deal with domestic violence in 16 states had also been created, as had various campaigns and national programmes against domestic violence.
415. The Government was particularly concerned at the level of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua state. A special commission had been created to investigate the murders of women perpetrated in that region. A panel to coordinate action to prevent and eradicate violence, based on the National Panel, had also been established with the objective of designing a plan to restore the social fabric in Ciudad Juárez, and to improve the living conditions of the children of women who had been murdered, and of the city's residents as a whole.
416. The representative stated that several measures had been implemented to eradicate traffic in women and prostitution of women across the country. They included the introduction of an inter-institutional action plan to prevent, give attention to and eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of minors; the creation of cybernetic police; the creation of an inter-institutional coordination body for the eradication of child pornography; amendments to the Federal Criminal Code; and the approval of the Law for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents, and the ratification of Agreement 182 of the International Labour Organization.
417. The representative noted that the Government had made an enormous effort to build a new relationship between Mexico's indigenous population, the State and society as a whole. The National Programme for the Development of Indigenous Peoples had been designed. A constitutional amendment to the Indigenous Plan recognizing the disadvantaged social and economic conditions of the indigenous peoples had also been introduced, but it was currently being challenged in the Supreme Court. Within the framework of the Inter-sectoral Programme for Attention to Indigenous Women, INMUJERES had signed an inter-institutional agreement with the Representative Office for the Development of Indigenous Peoples and the National Indigenist Institute under which various projects were being carried out.
418. As part of the Government's efforts to form new alliances with civil society, the representative indicated that INMUJERES, in collaboration with civil society, had created the Agenda for Permanent Dialogue between the Institute, Federal Government Departments and Non-Governmental Organizations, Universities and Research Centres. The representative added that, within the framework of the Mechanism for Dialogue with Civil Society Organizations for the Defence of Human Rights, created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, INMUJERES would coordinate a panel on women's rights and compliance with the Convention.
419. In concluding, the representative assured the Committee that the Government recognized that much remained to be done in ensuring and sustaining progress and empowerment of women. Challenges which faced the current administration included: improving the administration of justice and solving the crimes committed against the women of Ciudad Juárez; bringing Mexican judicial decision-making in line with the international treaties and agreements signed and ratified by the Government of Mexico concerning the defence, protection and promotion of women's rights; incorporating a gender perspective into public spending and budgeting; promoting affirmative action for women in the regulation of credit institutions; modernizing labour legislation to ensure the fullest possible social security coverage for working mothers in all sectors and geographical regions of the country; promoting compensation programmes to allow women to have equal access to job opportunities, particularly in the formal economy; ensuring access to health and education services for rural and indigenous women and those residing in poorer municipalities; and fostering changes in sexist and discriminatory attitudes, values and practices.
(b) Concluding comments of the Committee
420. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for the creative way in which its fifth periodic report was presented, in accordance with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of reports, and for its frank oral report. The Committee also commends the State party for providing full replies to the questions formulated in writing by the Committee.
421. The Committee also commends the State party for having sent a large, high-level delegation, headed by the president of INMUJERES and including representatives of different government agencies, legislators from various political parties, researchers and non-governmental organizations.
422. The Committee welcomes the State party's ratification on 15 March 2002 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its acceptance of the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention.
423. The Committee notes with satisfaction the constitutional reform carried out on 14 August 2001 which incorporated a special prohibition against discrimination based on sex into Mexican law.
424. The Committee welcomes the establishment in law in January 2001 of the National Women's Institute (INMUJERES), constituted as an autonomous, decentralized national mechanism with ministerial rank, its own budget and a cross-sectoral impact on all government institutions, thereby mainstreaming a gender perspective within national policy. The Committee also notes with satisfaction the cross-sectoral design of the National Programme for Equality of Opportunities and Non-discrimination against Women, 2001-2006 (PROEQUIDAD) as the linchpin of national policy on gender.
425. The Committee appreciates the effort made by the State party to bridge the gap between girls and boys in terms of school retention and promotion, particularly through the National Programme of Scholarships for Higher Education.
426. The Committee commends the State for putting into effect in its cooperation programme with INMUJERES the initiative put forward by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) of establishing an interactive monitoring system for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as a mechanism for monitoring and exchanges of information on the reports submitted to the Committee by Latin American and Caribbean States parties to the Convention.
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
427. Although the Committee takes note of the reforms, legislative initiatives, plans and programmes that are being carried out, it is especially concerned at the lack of evaluation of the various programmes put in place and their specific impact on women.
428. The Committee urges the State party to pay special attention to promoting the implementation and evaluation of policies at the country's three levels of government, particularly in municipalities, and to the establishment of a specific timetable for monitoring and evaluating the progress achieved in compliance with the obligations under the Convention.
429. The Committee expresses its concern at the fact that no instances are mentioned in which the Convention has been invoked before the courts and the lack of a compilation of judicial decisions in this regard.
430. The Committee calls on the State party to undertake dissemination, education and awareness-raising campaigns on the provisions of the Convention aimed at society as a whole, particularly officials responsible for the administration and protection of justice and especially Mexican women, in order to make them aware of their rights in the judicial arena at the national and state levels.
431. While noting that the problem of violence is regarded as one of the priority areas of PROEQUIDAD and that major reforms have been enacted to the Penal Code, the Committee expresses great concern at violence against women in Mexico, including domestic violence, which continues to go unpunished in several states.
432. The Committee requests the State party to take into account its Recommendation No. 19 on violence against women and take the steps required to ensure that the law provides appropriate penalties for all forms of violence against women and that appropriate procedures exist for investigating and prosecuting such offences. It recommends that the State party promote the enactment of federal and state laws, as appropriate, to criminalize and punish domestic violence and the perpetrators thereof, and take steps to ensure that women victims of such violence can obtain reparation and immediate protection, particularly by establishing 24-hour telephone hotlines, increasing the number of shelters and conducting zero-tolerance campaigns on violence against women, in order that it may be recognized as an unacceptable social and moral problem. The Committee also considers it especially important that steps be taken to train health-care workers, police officers and staff of special prosecutors' offices in human rights and dealing with violence against women.
433. The Committee is concerned that while the State party has implemented poverty reduction strategies, poverty constitutes a serious obstacle to enjoyment of rights by women, who make up the majority of the most vulnerable sectors, especially in rural and indigenous areas.
434. The Committee calls on the State party to give priority to women in its poverty eradication strategy, with special attention to women in rural and indigenous areas; in this context, measures and specific programmes should be adopted to ensure that women fully enjoy their rights on an equal footing in the areas of education, employment and health, with special emphasis on joint work with non-governmental organizations and on women's participation not only as beneficiaries, but also as agents of change in the development process.
435. The Committee notes with great concern the problems of exploitation of prostitution, child pornography, and trafficking of women and girls in Mexico and the lack of sex-disaggregated statistics on the incidence and growth of these phenomena.
436. The Committee encourages the State party to take steps to combat trafficking of women and girls and the exploitation of prostitution, both outside and inside the country, and to compile and systematize sex-disaggregated data in order to formulate a broad strategy for putting an end to such degrading practices and punishing their perpetrators.
437. In view of the growing number of Mexican women emigrating to other countries in search of greater job opportunities, the Committee is concerned that this may make them especially vulnerable to situations of exploitation or trafficking.
438. The Committee urges the State party to focus on the causes of that phenomenon by adopting measures to alleviate poverty and strengthen and promote the economic input of women, as well as fully guarantee the recognition and exercise of their rights. The Committee further encourages the State party to seek bilateral and multilateral agreements with the receiving countries.
439. The Committee expresses great concern at the incidents in Ciudad Juárez and at the continuing murders and disappearances of women. It is especially concerned at the apparent lack of results of the investigations into the causes of the numerous murders of women and the failure to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of such crimes with a view to protecting women against this type of violence.
440. The Committee calls on the State party to promote and accelerate compliance with Recommendation No. 44/98 of the Mexican National Human Rights Commission in relation to the investigation and punishment of the Ciudad Juárez murders. The Committee also calls on the State party to protect women from such violations of their human right to personal safety.
441. The Committee expresses its concern about the poor conditions of employment of Mexican women, particularly the wage discrimination, the vertical and horizontal segregation to which they are exposed and the inadequate social benefits they receive. The Committee is especially concerned about women working in the informal sector, including domestic workers, and those employed in the maquila industry whose basic labour rights are not respected; in particular, the Committee is concerned about the pregnancy test demanded by employers which exposes women to the risk of being let go or fired in the event that it proves positive.
442. The Committee recommends that the State party speed up the adoption of the reforms that must be made in the Labour Act, including the prohibition of discrimination against women, in an effort to ensure their participation in the labour market on a footing of genuine equality with men. It also urges the State party to give effect to the labour rights of women in all sectors. To that end, it recommends that the State party strengthen and promote the role of INMUJERES in negotiating the Labour Act so as to give special attention to the needs of women workers and to implement the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and prohibit the requirement of a pregnancy test for maquiladora workers.
443. The Committee expresses its concern about the small percentage of women in high-level posts in all activities, namely political, legislative, trade union and educational.
444. The Committee recommends the adoption of strategies for increasing the number of women in decision-making posts at all levels, particularly in the municipalities, by taking temporary special measures as specified in article 4, paragraph l, of the Convention; it recommends further that the State party strengthen its efforts to promote women to management positions in the public and private sectors through special training programmes and sensitivity campaigns stressing the importance of women's participation in decision-making at all levels.
445. The Committee notes with concern the high maternal mortality rate, particularly as a result of abortions among adolescents and the inadequate education, dissemination, accessibility and supply of contraceptive devices especially to poor women in rural and urban areas and to adolescents. The Committee further notes with concern the increase in HIV/AIDS, mostly among adolescent girls.
446. The Committee recommends that the State party consider the situation of the adolescent population as a matter of priority and urges it to adopt measures guaranteeing access to reproductive and sexual health services with attention to the information needs of adolescents; it recommends further that it implement programmes and policies to increase the knowledge of the various contraceptive methods and their availability on the understanding that family planning is the responsibility of both partners. It further urges the State party to promote sex education for adolescents with particular attention to the prevention and elimination of HIV/AIDS.
447. The Committee notes the lack of sufficient data disaggregated by sex in many of the areas covered by the fifth report, notwithstanding that it is the Committee's understanding that the Mexican National Census is based on statistics disaggregated by sex.
448. The Committee recommends that data disaggregated by sex should be compiled and urges the State party to include relevant statistics indicating the evolving impact of the programmes.
449. The Committee notes with concern that the minimum legal age of marriage, which is set at 16 in most of the states, is very young and not the same for girls and boys.
450. The Committee recommends that the law be revised by raising the minimum legal age of marriage in order to bring it into line with the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and make it equally applicable to girls and boys.
451. The Committee requests the State party, in its next periodic report required under article 18 of the Convention, to respond to the specific questions raised in these concluding comments.
452. Taking into account the gender dimension of declarations, programmes and platforms of 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.
453. The Committee requests the State party to widely disseminate these concluding comments, in order to inform the Mexican population, especially public officials and politicians, of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality of women and of other measures that need to be taken to that end. It also requests the State party to continue to disseminate widely, especially among women's and human rights groups, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the General Recommendations of the Committee, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century".