Concluding Observations/Comments - CEDAW : Norway. 20/03/2003.
A/58/38(Part I),paras.402-433. (Concluding Observations/Comments)
Convention Abbreviation: CEDAW
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Concluding comments of the Committee
402. The Committee commends the State party for its fifth and sixth periodic reports, which comply with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of reports. It also commends the State party for the oral presentation by the delegation, which helped to clarify the current situation of women in Norway and provided additional information on the implementation of the Convention.
403. The Committee commends the State party for its high-level delegation, headed by the Minister for Children and Family Affairs, and appreciates the frank and constructive dialogue that took place between the delegation and the members of the Committee.
404. The Committee commends the State party for the effective national machinery for the advancement of women and gender equality and the wide range of policies, programmes and legislative initiatives aimed at ensuring de jure equality and at bringing about women's de facto equality with men.
405. The Committee also commends the State party for its innovative strategy to increase the number of women on the executive boards of public joint stock companies and State-owned companies. According to that strategy, legislation making it mandatory for the boards of those companies to have a minimum of 40 per cent from each sex in their membership would come into force in 2006, if that target had not been reached voluntarily by the end of 2005.
406. The Committee welcomes the State party's policy of strengthening the promotion and protection of women's human rights and of integrating a gender dimension into its development cooperation programmes.
407. The Committee notes with appreciation that the State party has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention and accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, relating to the Committee's meeting time.
408. The Committee commends the State party on its willingness to object to reservations entered by other States parties that it considers incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention.
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
409. The Committee notes that the Convention has yet to be incorporated into the domestic law of the State party.
410. The Committee recommends that the State party amend section 2 of the Human Rights Act (1999) to include the Convention and its Optional Protocol, which will ensure that the provisions of the Convention prevail over any conflicting statutes and that its provisions can be invoked in domestic courts. It also recommends campaigns to raise awareness of the Convention, aimed, inter alia, at parliamentarians, the judiciary and the legal profession. The Committee requests that the State party report on progress made in this regard in its next periodic report and that it provide information on instances in which the Convention has been invoked before domestic courts.
411. The Committee is concerned about the persistence of stereotypical cultural attitudes towards women reflected in the low proportion of women in top leadership positions in the public sector, including in academia, which remains well below 20 per cent.
412. The Committee recommends that the State party take additional measures to eliminate stereotypical cultural attitudes, including through awareness-raising campaigns directed at both women and men, and conduct research into the stereotypical cultural attitudes prevailing in Norway. It suggests that the State party consider changing the name of the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs to convey the concept of gender equality more clearly as a symbolic and important gesture. The Committee furthermore recommends that the State party encourage the media to project a positive image of women and of the equal status and responsibilities of women and men in the private and public spheres.
413. While acknowledging the adoption in 2001 of the State party's plan of action against racism and discrimination, the Committee expresses concern about the multiple discrimination faced by migrant, refugee and minority women with respect to access to education, employment and health care and exposure to violence.
414. The Committee urges the State party to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination against migrant, refugee and minority women and to further strengthen its efforts to combat xenophobia and racism. It also urges the State party to be proactive in its measures to prevent discrimination against these women, both within their communities and in society at large, and to increase their awareness of the availability of social services and legal remedies. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that a gender dimension is included in legislation against ethnic discrimination.
415. The Committee is concerned about the existence of various obstacles to the integration of migrant and refugee women into Norwegian society and regrets that the report provides insufficient information about their situation.
416. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to, inter alia, enable and encourage migrant and refugee women, particularly those with care-giving responsibilities, to participate in Norwegian-language classes and calls on the State party to provide comprehensive information on this group of women — including in respect of their employment, social security and access to health care and other social services — in its next periodic report.
417. The Committee expresses concern that the policy of decentralization has reduced the number of institutions responsible for gender equality issues at the municipal level, which may have a negative impact on the advancement of women and gender equality.
418. The Committee recommends that the State party undertake a gender-impact analysis of its decentralization policy and guarantee, if necessary through legislation, that there are institutions responsible for gender equality issues in all communities in Norway.
419. The Committee is concerned about the persistence of violence, including domestic violence, against women and children in Norway. It is further concerned that this violence, the extent of which is unknown, is regarded as falling into the private sphere. The Committee is furthermore concerned that a predominant and growing number of women who seek refuge in shelters for battered women are migrants. It is also concerned that an extremely low percentage of reported rapes results in convictions and that the police and public prosecutors dismiss an increasing number of such cases.
420. The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to address the issue of violence against women, including domestic violence, as an infringement of women's human rights. In particular, the Committee urges the State party to undertake appropriate measures and introduce laws in conformity with general recommendation 19 to prevent violence, prosecute and rehabilitate offenders, and provide support services and protection for victims. The Committee also urges the State party to initiate research and analysis of the causes of the very low percentage of trials and convictions in reported rape cases.
421. The Committee notes with concern that trafficking in women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation has not yet been defined explicitly as a crime under the penal code or criminalized.
422. The Committee urges the State party to enact relevant legislation in this regard.
423. While noting that the State party offers some measures of support to victims of trafficking, both within its territory and in their countries of origin, the Committee notes with concern that the gravity and extent of the problem remain unknown.
424. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report comprehensive information and relevant data, including on progress made in this area. It also recommends that the State party develop and strengthen measures of support for victims of trafficking, including through increased bilateral cooperation with their countries of origin. It further urges that the training of law enforcement officials be pursued so as to enable them to provide adequate support to victims of trafficking.
425. While noting that the State party has placed the issue of forced marriages and female genital mutilation on the political agenda for the past few years, and has developed action plans and taken other political measures, the Committee is concerned at the extent of these practices.
426. The Committee requests the State party to continue its efforts to eradicate those practices.
427. The Committee is concerned about the noticeable decline in recent years in women's representation in Parliament and notes that the increase in women's participation in municipal and county councils is slow. The Committee is also concerned about the low level of representation of women in the higher levels of the diplomatic service, in particular as ambassadors or as consuls general.
428. The Committee recommends that the State party introduce measures to increase the representation of women in Parliament, in municipal and county councils and at higher levels in the Foreign Service, particularly as ambassadors and consuls general.
429. The Committee is concerned that women remain disadvantaged in the labour market, particularly that a wage gap between women and men persists and that the presence of women, as compared with that of men, predominates in part-time work.
430. The Committee urges the State party to adopt policies and concrete measures to accelerate the eradication of pay discrimination against women, to further study the underlying causes of the wage gap and to work towards ensuring de facto equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market. The Committee recommends that further measures allowing for the reconciliation of family and professional responsibilities be adopted and implemented and that the equal sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men be promoted.
431. Taking into account the gender dimensions 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 (twenty-first special session), the special session of the General Assembly on children (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.
432. The Committee urges the State party to respond in its next periodic report to the specific issues raised in the present conclusions.
433. The Committee requests that the text of the present conclusions be widely disseminated in Norway so as to inform the public, in particular administrators, officials and politicians, of the measures taken to guarantee de jure and de facto equality between men and women and of the supplementary measures to be adopted in that area. The Committee also urges the State party to continue to give broad publicity to the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the general recommendations of the Committee, 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", held in June 2000 — particularly among women's associations and human rights organizations.