Consideration of reports of States parties
Fourth and fifth periodic reports
277. The Committee considered the fourth and fifth periodic
reports of Nicaragua (CEDAW/C/NIC/4 and CEDAW/C/NIC/5) at
its 525th and 526th meetings, on 17 July 2001 (see CEDAW/C/SR.525
(a) Introduction by the State party
In introducing the reports, the representative of Nicaragua
informed the Committee that they covered the period from
1991 to 1998, and described some important innovations during
She informed the Committee that the Government had committed
itself to the implementation of the Convention but several
obstacles had impeded full implementation. Those included
the persistence of stereotypical attitudes, in particular
machismo, and the poverty that Nicaragua faced. The Government
had implemented a reinforced strategy to reduce poverty
and other programmes to improve the health and education
of women, girls and boys. The law provided a general framework
of human rights protection and the Constitution and the
ley de amparo, which protected individuals against administrative
abuse and provided for injunctions to stop administrative
acts which could adversely affect the rights of citizens,
ensured the implementation of those rights. A common agenda
on women's priorities had been established, in collaboration
with civil society and political parties. Draft revisions
to the penal and family codes and penal procedures would
remove discriminatory provisions, and the Constitution and
the Civil Code included provisions on nationality. The Childhood
and Adolescence Code, which had been approved in 1998, established
that children were entitled to know their parents and to
carry a name. The Commission for Women, Childhood, Youth
and Family had presented a law of equal opportunity to the
National Assembly for approval.
The Nicaraguan Institute for Women had been established
as the national machinery with the mandate to define, formulate
and promote public policies and develop strategies to ensure
equal opportunities for men and women, including through
action to improve female living conditions on the basis
of equality, development and peace. The Ministry for the
Family had also been created, and aimed to promote projects
and programmes relating to families, girls and boys, and
teenagers in situations of social risk. The promotion of
women had also been included in the Ministry's activities
with respect to domestic violence, which was addressed as
a violation of the right to life and the right to security
of person. A reduction in financial resources had, however,
limited the impact of these projects and programmes.
The representative of Nicaragua indicated that, among the
various policies that had been implemented by the Government
to promote the advancement of women were the social policy,
the national population policy, the citizen participation
policy, the sex education policy and the equal opportunity
policy. Other mechanisms to promote the dialogue between
the Government and civil society had been implemented through
the inter-institutional commissions. In addition, two positions,
those of attorney for human rights and special attorney
for children, youth and women, had been created.
The representative informed the Committee about the advancement
of women in the educational sector and the positive results
that had been achieved in terms of women's access to education
at all levels, and high levels of attendance at schools
and universities, to which the National Plan for Education
(2001-2015) had contributed. Results were particularly significant
in respect of girls in rural areas. The rate of illiteracy
of women was lower than that of men, and women made up the
majority of the student population. The National Institute
of Technology, which was responsible for professional training,
had created a specific unit to develop programmes to build
the capacity of women in geographical areas with high levels
of unemployment, as well as programmes for rural women,
single mothers and teenagers at risk. Those programmes were
aimed at the creation of microenterprises for women, providing
them with access to credit at low interest rates, and ensuring
that they were offered jobs in non-traditional sectors.
The representative of Nicaragua indicated that the life
expectancy for women had increased but that maternal mortality
was still a critical health problem. Measures that had been
taken to address the problem included the establishment
of specialized hospitals, where female staff offered disease-prevention
and prenatal-monitoring services.
The representative admitted that women tended to be concentrated
in low-paid sectors of employment. In rural areas, discrimination
insofar as access to opportunities and productive resources
and services was still significant. In 1997, the Inter-institutional
Commission for Women and Rural Development had been created
to promote the interests of rural women, and had subsequently
implemented a project, entitled "Women and credit",
to increase women's access to credit.
The representative pointed out that domestic violence affected
a large number of women in Nicaragua. The Government had
created offices for women and children, as a result of the
cooperative effort by the Nicaraguan Institute for Women,
the Women's Anti-violence Network, the secretariat of the
National Plan to Prevent Domestic and Sexual Violence (2001-2006)
and the National Commission on Violence against Women, Children
and Young Persons to address the problem. The Penal Code
had also been reformed to provide greater protection for
victims. Trafficking in all its forms was also prohibited
by article 40 of the Constitution.
In conclusion, the representative informed the Committee
that the number of women in decision-making positions and
in politics had increased significantly in recent years.
(b) Concluding comments of the Committee
The Committee expresses appreciation to the Government of
Nicaragua for its fourth and fifth periodic reports. The
Committee notes, however, that the reports do not incorporate
sufficient statistical data disaggregated by sex.
The Committee expresses appreciation for the information
contained in the reports and the frankness with which the
reports were prepared. It commends the Government on the
comprehensive replies to the Committee's questions which
sought to clarify the situation of women in Nicaragua, and
on the Government's sincere oral presentation of the reports.
The Committee welcomes the efforts made by the Government
of Nicaragua to implement the Convention, as reflected in
a range of laws, institutions, policies and programmes to
address discrimination against women in Nicaragua. The Committee
recognizes that the Nicaraguan Institute for Women was one
of the first national machineries to be established in the
region, in 1982. The Committee welcomes the Government's
collaboration with civil society and other actors in reaching
a common agenda on women's priorities.
The Committee commends the Government on the publication
and dissemination of a handbook explaining the provisions
of the Convention.
The Committee commends the Government on its efforts to
include the teaching of human rights in kindergarten, primary,
secondary and technical or vocational schools, and in military
and police training academies, and on the integration of
a gender perspective into the National Development Plan
and school curricula and teacher training.
The Committee notes with appreciation the efforts made to
combat violence against women, including the adoption of
legislation against domestic violence (Act No. 230); the
establishment of the National Commission on Violence against
Women, Children and Young Persons; the National Plan for
the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence 2001-2006;
and the coordination carried out with various sectors of
society, including the national police force, in particular
the women's police stations (comisarķas), in combating gender
Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of
The Committee notes that the high level of poverty in Nicaragua,
aggravated by natural disasters, poses a serious obstacle
to the implementation of the Convention and women's full
enjoyment of their rights.
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
The Committee expresses concern about the persistence of
stereotypes concerning the role of women in the family and
society, including the expectations of women's subordination
to men expressed by some religious communities, and attitudes
and behaviour driven by machismo in public and private life.
The Committee is concerned that, notwithstanding the Government's
recognition of the problem and its efforts to address the
problem, including legislative change, such stereotypes
continue to constitute an obstacle to the achievement of
equality for women.
The Committee calls upon the Government to strengthen measures
to change stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities
of women and men, including awareness-raising and educational
campaigns directed at both women and men, as well as the
media, in order to achieve de facto equality between women
and men. It also calls upon the Government to undertake
an assessment of the impact of its measures in order to
identify shortcomings, and to adjust and improve these measures
The Committee expresses concern at the high incidence of
poverty among women, in particular rural women and households
headed by women.
The Committee urges the Government to give priority attention
to rural women and women heads of household, including in
the allocation of budgetary resources, and to monitor research
into their situation, with a view to developing effective
policies and programmes to strengthen their socio-economic
situation and ensuring that they receive needed services
and support. The Committee emphasizes that social investment
in women not only ensures their enjoyment of the human rights
outlined in the Convention, but also constitutes one of
the most effective means of combating poverty and promoting
The Committee expresses concern at the custom, in particular
in rural areas, of sexual abuse of young girls by older
men. It notes that this violates the rights of girls to
reproductive health, as well as other rights under the Convention.
The Committee urges the Government to introduce awareness-raising
and penal measures to eliminate the sexual abuse of young
The Committee expresses concern about the high infant and
maternal mortality rates in Nicaragua. The Committee also
expresses concern that the leading causes of mortality among
women are cervical and breast cancer, and pregnancy-related
problems, including post-partum haemorrhage and toxaemia.
The Committee notes with concern a lack of information on
abortions and on the incidence of related death or illness.
The Committee recommends that the Government make every
effort to increase access to health-care facilities and
medical assistance by trained personnel in all areas, including
rural areas. The Committee also recommends the implementation
of programmes to prevent cervical and breast cancer, and
to ensure the availability of pregnancy-related medical
care. The Committee requests the Government to include in
its next report information on the number of abortions performed
and related death and/or illness, within the general framework
of health conditions of women.
The Committee expresses concern about the high fertility
rate in Nicaragua.
The Committee calls upon the Government to improve its family
planning and reproductive health policy and programmes,
including the availability and accessibility of affordable
modern contraceptive means to both women and men. It encourages
the Government to promote educational programmes on reproductive
rights and responsible sexual behaviour on the part of both
women and men, in particular young people.
The Committee notes with concern the persistence of a high
level of illiteracy among certain groups of women in Nicaragua.
The Committee encourages the Government to develop programmes
specifically designed to reduce female illiteracy.
The Committee expresses concern that women workers have
been replaced by men in both the formal and informal sectors
of the economy, that men's wages are three times greater
than those of women and that the rates of unemployment and
underemployment of women are high. It also expresses concern
at the indirect discrimination against women because they
have limited access to credit owing to their lack of collateral.
The Committee recommends that measures be taken to improve
the status of working women, including the introduction
of training programmes to promote the integration of women
into the labour force and to diversify their participation;
the establishment of childcare centres; improved access
to credit, with special emphasis on rural women; and greater
efforts to achieve equal pay for work of equal value.
While the Committee welcomes the Government's efforts to
combat domestic violence, it expresses concern at the continuing
extent of domestic violence against women in Nicaragua.
The Committee stresses that, since violence against women
is an infringement of human rights, it is the Government's
responsibility to prevent such violence and to take measures
to protect its victims.
The Committee calls upon the Government to take practical
measures to follow up and monitor legislation, and to strengthen
its policies and programmes addressing violence against
women, including by assessing their effectiveness and adjusting
The Committee welcomes the establishment of the national
machinery for women, the Nicaraguan Institute for Women,
but is concerned at the lack of institutional support for
the Institute and its dependence on international cooperation.
The Committee urges the Government to provide the Nicaraguan
Institute for Women with the required finances, personnel
and political decision-making capacity to enable it to influence
effectively the promotion of gender equality in Nicaragua.
While the Committee welcomes the adoption of legislation
to protect and promote women's human rights, including domestic
violence legislation and the Equal Opportunities Law, the
Committee expresses concern that discriminatory laws continue
to exist and that there is no legislation dealing with education.
The Committee urges the Government to reform existing legislation
and enact new legislation to protect the equal rights of
women and men in regard to education. It recommends the
speedy adoption of a non-discriminatory family code.
The Committee expresses concern about the lack of information
in the reports on the migration of women and girls, women
working in the maquiladora factories and free trade zones,
older women and minority and indigenous women, prostitution,
and trafficking of women and girls.
The Committee requests the Government to provide in its
next report information on the migration of women and girls,
including why the movements are occurring, the destination
points, and the extent to which these women and girls become
vulnerable to sexual exploitation, including trafficking,
prostitution and sex tourism; the situation of women working
in the maquiladora factories and free trade zones, including
the measures taken to ensure that their rights are protected;
older women and minority and indigenous women, especially
as regards their health, employment and educational status;
prostitution, including the measures taken to protect women
who are prostitutes and to reintegrate them into society,
as well as the measures taken to counteract the root causes
of prostitution; and the measures taken by the Government
to combat trafficking, and the impact of such measures.
The Committee urges the Government to sign and ratify the
Optional Protocol to the Convention and to deposit as soon
as possible its instrument of acceptance of the amendment
to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning
the meeting time of the Committee.
The Committee requests the Government to respond to the
concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in
its next periodic report submitted under article 18 of the
Convention. It urges the Government to improve the collection
and analysis of statistical data, disaggregated by sex,
age and minority or ethnic group, and to submit such data
to the Committee in its next report. The Committee invites
the Government to seek international cooperation in connection
with the collection and analysis of such data.
The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Nicaragua
of the present concluding comments in order to make the
people of Nicaragua, in particular governmental 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 Government 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".