Article 1

For the purposes of the present Convention, the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, and civil or any other field.

Commentary

Article 1 defines what constitutes discrimination against women and thus establishes the Convention as a special international human rights instrument that only deals with discrimination directed against women.  The term “discrimination” refers to any distinction, exclusion or restriction, it being intentional or unintentional, that prevent women, married or not, from reaching full equality.  Furthermore, the principle of equality of rights should be applied to areas of law and social institutions, which perpetuate the continuation of discrimination against women, as well as to political, economic, social, cultural, and civil fields where discriminatory actions are still practised, such as in the work place.

Questions

1.       Does the Lebanese constitution guarantee equality between men and women so as to protect the human rights of women? Is the principle of non-discrimination stated in the Constitution with regards to gender and marital status of women? Is this principle implemented in practice? If the principle of non-discrimination is not included in the Constitution, what measures are being undertaken to modify the Constitution and include the proper amendments? Are there any obstacles preventing such amendments? If so, please specify.

2.       Are there any Lebanese laws or decrees that define the term “discrimination against women”? Please specify.  Does the definition of discrimination include provisions that call for different treatment of men and women?  Does it also include laws, customs and policies that fail to recognise women or deprive them of the enjoyment of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights? 

3.       Does the legal definition of “discrimination against women” cover all aspects of discrimination?  Is this definition in conformity with the principles of the Convention?

4.       Does the definition include practices that are unintentionally discriminatory against women and that cannot be considered justified?  Please specify.

5.       Does the legal definition of discrimination against women include discrimination when practised by private companies and by individuals?  Does it also include discrimination in specific areas or within the family?  Please specify.

6.       Does the legal definition of discrimination include violent behaviour directed towards women based on their gender?

Article 2

States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake:

a)       To embody the principle of equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realisation of this principle;

b)       To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women;

c)       To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination;

d)       To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation;

e)       To take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organisation or enterprise;

f)         To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;

g)       To repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.

Commentary

According to article 2, States Parties shall take all measures, including, legislative and administrative measures, to ensure the principle of equality rights between men and women.  In this regard, each State Party should examine its constitutional and legal provisions so as to identify all discriminatory laws and take measures to eliminate or modify them.   By having an appropriate constitutional and legal structure to guarantee equality, each State Party will be able to provide remedies and sanctions for public and private acts of discrimination.  However, discrimination against women is not only confined to legal provisions, it is lived by women in their everyday life.  Therefore, in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, it is also important for each State Party to examine whatever in practice threatens the enjoyment of the rights set forth in the Convention and undertake the appropriate measures to eliminate them.

Questions

1.       Do government and public institutions' practices, laws and policies discriminate against women? Please specify, and indicate the fields in which such practices take place? Are amendments being brought to these laws and administrative practices? Please specify.

2.       Are there any current laws or bills that provide legal remedies against discrimination in basic fields such as education, health and labour?

3.       Are there laws, rules and policies set for governmental establishments and officials regarding discrimination against women?  Please specify. Do these policies also apply to private establishments and individuals?

4.       Have national studies been conducted regarding the existence of discriminatory laws against women?  Please specify.

5.       Are there any remedies currently under development to stop discrimination against women? Please specify the nature of these remedies. Do women have access to it in order to make their rights prevail?

6.       Please indicate the number of cases involving discrimination that have been brought before the courts or other authorities during the last four years?  Please indicate the outcome of the decisions handed down in such cases.

7.       Please indicate whether a special body exists for the promotion and protection of women in Lebanon.  Has any national machinery or ombudsman been created to oversee the implementation of the Convention? If yes, please specify its role and accomplishments.

8.       Did Lebanon, bring, through legislation and different programs, changes in customs and practices that lead to discrimination against women?  Please specify.  Has the Lebanese government taken any measures to combat, through legislation and other programs, any type of violence inflicted on women?

9.       Are sanctions or punitive measures (such as fines) brought upon those who practice discrimination against women?  Please indicate the nature of those measures and provide information on their effectiveness. 

10.   Are measures adopted to encourage the development and improvement of women’s situation? Are measures taken to ensure her fundamental freedoms and equality in her rights?  Please specify.

11.   What are the real obstacles women encounter in the exercise of their fundamental rights and rights of equality with men?

Article 3

States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.

Commentary

In order to ensure the “full development and advancement of women”, as stated in article 3, and the enjoyment of their rights and freedoms, States Parties should take the appropriate measures to guarantee equality between men and women.  These measures will mostly depend on the fields and institutional structure specific to the State Party, as well as on the level of progress within the reporting State.  Therefore, it is important for each reporting State to identify areas of priority where the status of women should be improved and, to develop appropriate programs regarding education, employment and other matters of concern.

Questions

1.       Do legislation, practices and administrative policies guarantee the development and the improvement of women’s status? Do women enjoy the right to participate in political activities and take advantage of social services, health and medical protection, education, and development programs for literacy, employment, the mastering of skills and social well-being as well as property ownership?

2.       Do the Lebanese constitution and other laws guarantee equality in rights and fundamental liberties and the full enjoyment by women of these rights? Following the steps towards equality with men, what are the obstacles encountered by women regarding the enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental liberties?

3.       What are the measures undertaken to carry out the full development and improvement of women’s status in society, and to encourage the exercise and enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental liberties?

4.       Have any bills been passed or political measures undertaken to positively influence the political participation of women, or their participation in the social, economic and cultural life?  Did women participate effectively in the drafting of such laws or policies? Are these laws and policies implemented to women’s advantage and satisfaction?

Article 4

Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.

Adoption by States Parties of special measures, including those measures contained in the present Convention, aimed at protecting maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.

Commentary

Equality before the law between men and women does not always mean genuine de facto equality.  Therefore, as stated in article 4, it is sometimes necessary to promote equality by positive action in order to overcome the effect of stereotype role division.  To this effect, affirmative action measures may be desirable to ensure and accelerate the full enjoyment by women of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Moreover, paragraph 2 of article 4 specifies that the adoption of special measures aiming at the protection of maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.  Indeed, this function, unique to women, requires special measures of protection for mothers and children.  These measures are necessary because of the importance of maternity to the individual and to the community, and because the interests of children require that the effect on the health, income and earnings of the mother be taken into consideration.

The Committee has adopted two general recommendations regarding the implementation of article 4.  General recommendation no 5 (seventh session 1988), states the requirement to use more temporary special measures such as positive action, preferential treatment or even quota systems, to advance women’s integration into education, the economy and employment.   As for general recommendation no 8 (seventh session 1988), it states that reporting countries should take further direct measures, in accordance with article 4 of the Convention, to ensure to women the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organisations.

Questions

1.       Is there an official policy to help accelerate the effective realisation of equality between men and women?  If so, what are the steps taken to implement it?  Have any laws been enacted to help enforce this policy?

2.       Are there any positive special measures, including preferential treatment and quota systems, that have been adopted to reach equality between men and women?  Are there measures undertaken to protect pregnancy, motherhood, and women’s health and their well being in the work place?  Please specify.

3.       What are the means considered in order to implement the measures stated above? Are these measures implemented?Is the implementation of these measures being monitored in any way? 

4.       Are these special measures considered non-discriminatory according to the law?

Article 5

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

a)       To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view of achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women;

b)       To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all cases.

Commentary

Article 5(a) recognises the obligation of States Parties to achieve “the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices” which give false concepts of inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes.  It should however be noted that modifying the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women remains a difficult task.  Indeed, various customs and traditions, strongly rooted in different countries, represent serious obstacles to the progress to equality and the full participation of women in society.  Therefore, in order to modify the thinking and attitude of both men and women, action must be taken by society in different areas including the upbringing of children, the design of textbooks and the conceptualization of education in general.  As for article 5(b), it establishes that maternity has a social function.  Furthermore, it states the need for States Parties to recognize that men and women have a common responsibility in the upbringing of their children and that parents, in fulfilling their responsibilities, should give priority to the interest of their children in all cases.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in its general recommendation no 3 (sixth session 1987), urged States Parties to adopt “education and public information programs which will help eliminate prejudices and current practices that hinder the full operation of the principle of the social equality of women.”  It also stated in its general recommendation no 12 (eighth session, 1989) entitled “Violence against women” that States Parties are required to take appropriate steps to protect women against any type of violence within the family, at the work place or any other area of social life

Questions

1.       What are the existing cultural and traditional practices that hamper the advancement of women in society?

2.       What are the special measures, information campaigns and programs undertaken in order to modify the social and cultural behavior patterns that lead to sexual stereotyping?

3.       Do religious customs or traditions impose practices and beliefs that prevent the development and improvement of women’s situation in Lebanon?  Please specify.

4.       What are the roles of men and women in the Lebanese society and within the Lebanese family?

5.       Is there any sexual stereotyping in school textbooks and in the media?  What are the past and ongoing efforts expended to eliminate sexual stereotyping?  What are the obstacles encountered in the elimination of sexual stereotyping?

6.       Who is the head of the family according to Lebanese laws and customs?

7.       Are there any gender-specific jobs advertising or hiring practices?  Please specify (give percentages whenever possible)

8.       Please indicate the jobs that cannot be held by women according to Lebanese laws and customs.

9.       Are there gender-specific task assignments in schools and within the family?

10.   What are the roles assigned to men and women in the family?  Do both parents participate in raising the children?  Are there any differences between an urban and a rural environment regarding a stereotypical division of responsibility for child rearing?

11.    In cases of divorce and separation which parent has custody of the children and why?

12.   Are there specific laws and regulations regarding the family in Lebanon?  Please specify.

13.   What is the impact of this article of the Convention on school curricula?

14.   Do husbands have the right to discipline their wives?  Please indicate the Lebanese laws that allow them such conduct?  Are there any punitive measures imposed on those who use violence against their wives?

15.   What are the views of the Lebanese men and women regarding violent behavior between spouses?  Are there any campaigns undertaken to raise awareness regarding violence against women?  Do these campaigns aim at changing men’s opinion about women?

16.   Are there any programs that educate all women about their rights?  If so, does the media help in the promotion of these programs?

17.   What are the measures and guidelines undertaken to bring the authorities to apply the laws with regards to violence against women, including violence within the household?

18.   Are there any shelters that cater to women who suffer violence within the household?

19.   Is there regulation regarding the distribution of films and magazines that promote sex and violence?

20.   Are there cases of sexual solicitation and sexual harassment in Lebanon?  What are the measures taken to prohibit such acts?  Are there laws that regulate such matters?

21.   Are there any special measures undertaken regarding sexual offense on children or sexual exploitation of children?

22.   Are there any special measures taken to deal with discrimination in matters related to marriage, divorce, polygamy and female circumcision?  Are there programs that raise awareness on the need to eliminate these practices?

Article 6

States parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.

Commentary

Article 6 recognizes the need to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.  This includes new forms of traffic and exploitation such as sexual tourism and domestic labor.  The measures called by the Convention are directed against those who profit from the exploitation of women, including the exploitation of girls. They do not target the women involved.  The Committee stresses in particular the need for measures to combat conditions which very often are the root of much of female prostitution, such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of employment opportunities and underdevelopment.  These measures should include training and education and the creation of job opportunities.

Questions

1.       Is there legislation in Lebanon that prohibits traffic of women and girls?  If so, is it effectively implemented?  What are the punitive measures imposed in cases of traffic of women and girls?

2.       Is prostitution legal?  In case of illegal prostitution, are the prostitutes and clients summoned before a court? What are the punitive measures imposed on a prostitute?  What are the punitive measures imposed on a client?  Are these measures implemented? Are there any laws regarding child prostitution? If so please specify.

3.       If prostitution is legal, are there any sanctions imposed in order to protect prostitutes from being exploited?  Are there any health measures taken to combat sexually transmitted diseases and prevent the spread of AIDS? What is the widespread opinion of society with regards to prostitution?  Are there any mechanisms in place to help prostitutes find jobs in other fields? 

4.       Does the special law regarding violence against women include rape and sexual aggression?  Are the provisions of this law applicable to all women, including prostitutes? Are these provisions effectively implemented?

5.       Did the war, armed conflict and occupation of Lebanese territory by foreign armed forces, have a direct impact on the increase of sexual exploitation of women.

6.       What are the existing special laws regarding women’s exploitation and prostitution?

7.       Are there laws and policies that protect women and adolescent girls from agencies involved in women’s exploitation?  Are there laws and policies that are being enforced with regards to marriage bureaux, more precisely with regards to marriage arrangements with foreigners?

8.       Is the involvement of a third party as middleman, in women’s prostitution considered illegal?

9.       What are the obstacles that prevent the elimination of prostitution and exploitation and traffic of women? If so please indicate the nature of these obstacles?

10.   Are there Lebaneselaws that sanction family relatives that exploit women and young girls? Is there any legislation with regards to sexual tourism?  If yes, please indicate if it is implemented effectively?

Article 7

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:

a)       To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies;

b)       To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;

c)       To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations with the public and political life of the country.

Commentary

Article 7(a) ensures the right for women to vote and to participate as candidates in all publicly elected bodies.  It reaffirms the principle that women have the same political rights as men concerning the right to vote and to be elected already contained in the Convention on the Political Rights of Women of 1952.  Moreover, it not only confirms the right to vote in all elections, but guarantees also the right to vote in all public referenda.  Article 7(b) broadens the meaning of women’s participation in political and public life by adding the right “to participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof”, thereby widening the scope of political rights of women to include an active sense of participation.  As for article 7(c), it confirms women’s right to participate in non-governmental organizations and other associations within the political and public life of the country.  Real equality requires that there be an equal opportunity to influence law and policy, to ensure that matters of concern to women are accorded proper priority.  Therefore, the States Parties should take all necessary measures to encourage women’s participation in the political arena as voter and as political candidate.

Questions

1.       What is the number of women participating in the overall political and public life of Lebanon?  Does a woman enjoy the right to vote in all elections on equal terms with men?  If so, please indicate the laws that guarantee this right.  What is the percentage of women members of political parties?  What is the nature of the work undertaken by women within these political parties?

2.       What are the measures taken by the political parties to add women’s membership?  What is the number of women that run as candidates for committees that hold general elections, locally and nationally?  Please indicate the number of women elected compared to men. 

3.       Do women enjoy the same conditions as men when it comes to running, in general elections, as candidates for leading positions? Please indicate the percentage of women in the various levels of central and local government bodies in public elected and appointed offices.  Please indicate the number of women currently elected to parliament, and appointed to different governmental and diplomatic offices.

4.       Please indicate the number of women that participate in general elections and referendums?

5.       Please indicate the number of measures taken to ensure the participation of women in the establishment and implementation at all levels of a developmental planning.  What are the help services available in Lebanon to enable women to participate in public life?  Are there programs to attract a bigger number of women to public and political position?

6.       Are women members of different professional corporations?  Have measures been taken to encourage such participation and membership?

7.       Is the woman promoted in her job? Does pregnancy and motherhood have any impact on her promotion?

8.       Is there discrimination against women or violation of their human rights because of their political activities as members of women’s organizations?  If so please specify.

9.       What is the extent of participation of women’s organizations in the elaboration of policies?  Are there means undertaken to ensure this sort of participation?

Article 8

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.

Commentary

This article, in accordance with article 8 of the UN Charter, addresses the importance of States Parties to take the appropriate measures to ensure the opportunity for women to “represent their country at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.”

As for the Committee, it recommends, in its general recommendation no 8 (seventh session 1988), that States Parties make use of temporary special measures as stated in article 4 of the Convention “to ensure the full implementation of article 8 of the Convention and to ensure to women on equal terms with men and without any discrimination the opportunities to represent their Government at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations”.  It also recommends, in its general recommendation no 10 (eight session 1989), States Parties to consider “encouraging action to ensure the full implementation of the principles of the Convention and, in particular, article 8 which relates to the participation of women at all levels of activity of the United Nations and the United Nations system”.

Questions

1.       Do women enjoy the right and opportunity to represent their Government at the international level, and to participate in the work of international organizations on equal terms with men and without any discrimination?

2.       Please indicate the number of Lebanese women heading diplomatic missions and delegations.  Also indicate the number of Lebanese women that are part of a diplomatic mission and delegation.  Please specify their functions.

3.       Please indicate the number of women participating in delegations to international meetings and conferences.  What are their fields of expertise?

4.       Please indicate the percentage of Lebanese women that are employed in international organizations and local organizations.  What are their main fields of expertise? Also provide information on the percentage of women proposed by Lebanon to fill the vacancies within the United Nations system.  If so, what are the positions held by women, and in what proportion?

5.       Are there cases where, based on her gender, a woman has not been assigned to represent her country or to participate in the activities of international organizations?

6.       Are there programs that aim at encouraging women to join the diplomatic corps or to seek employment within international organizations?

Article 9

State Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality.  They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon her the nationality of the husband.

States Parties shall grand women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

Commentary

According to this article, women, on an equal footing with men, shall have the right to acquire, change or retain their nationality, and that marriage or a change in the husband’s nationality during marriage shall not automatically affect the woman’s nationality.  Women shall also have the same rights as men regarding the nationality of their children.  In its general recommendation no 21 (13th session, 1994), the Committee stated that nationality is critical to full participation in society.  In general, States confer nationality on those who are born in that country.  Nationality can also be acquired by reason of settlement, or granted for humanitarian reasons such as statelessness.  Without status as nationals or citizens, women are deprived of the right to vote or to stand for public office and may be denied access to public benefits and a choice of residence.  Nationality should be capable of change by an adult woman and should not be arbitrarily removed because of marriage or dissolution of marriage or because her husband or father changes his nationality.

It should also be noted that, in implementing, States Parties are obliged to establish the formal legal equality of men and women with regard to acquiring, changing, retaining or conferring their nationality upon the spouse or children.

Questions

1.       Can the Lebanese woman, regardless of her marital status, have equal rights with the Lebanese man to acquire, change or retain her nationality? Please specify the cultural and socio-economic factors that affect the implementation of these rights.

2.       Does marriage to a non-Lebanese man affect the Lebanese women's nationality in any way?

3.       According to Lebanese law, is a person's citizenship established by birth, by marriage, or by parentage? In the latter case, does a Lebanese mother's citizenship carry equal weight with that of the Lebanese father?

4.       In Lebanon, do women and men exercise the same rights with regards to obtaining residence and employment status for their non-citizen spouse?

5.       Can women get a passport or travel without the permission of their husbands or male guardians?

6.       How is the nationality of the Lebanese child established? Are passports issued for children? If not, can children travel on their mother's passport? If so, is the father's consent required to include children on their mother's passport? Is the consent of the parents of a minor required prior to him/her leaving the country? Please specify.

Article 10

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men, in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

a)       The same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to studies and for the achievement of diplomas, in educational establishments of all categories in rural as well as in urban areas; this equality shall be ensured in pre-school, general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training;

b)       Access to the same curricula, the same examinations, teaching staff with qualifications of the same standard and school premises and equipment of the same quality;

c)       The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programs and the adaptation of teaching methods;

d)       The same opportunities to benefit from scholarships and other study grants;

e)       The same opportunities for access to programs of continuing education, including adult and functional literacy programs, particularly those aimed at reducing, at the earliest possible time, any gap in education existing between men and women;

f)         The reduction of female student drop-out rates and the organization of programmes for girls and women who have left school prematurely;

g)       The same opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education;

h)       Access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning.

Commentary

This article recognizes the importance of education in enabling women and men to participate on an equal footing in all aspects of the life of their countries.  Girls should be given the same educational opportunities as boys to enable them to participate fully in society, to compete in the workforce on equal terms, and to have an equal opportunity to gain economic independence.  Special measures are necessary to ensure that these opportunities are available, and that they are taken and to provide for the needs of women who have not had access to equal opportunity in the past.

According to paragraphs (a), (b) and (e) of article 10, equal opportunities should be attributed to women, when it comes to career and vocational guidance, access to studies and the achievement of diplomas, in educational establishments of all categories in rural as well as in urban areas.  Women should also have access to the same curricula, the same examinations and the same programs of continuing education.  This includes adult and functional literacy programs; particularly those aimed at quickly reducing any gap in education existing between men and women.  Paragraphs (c) and (f) aim at the elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education and the reduction of female student drop-out rates.  These goals can be reached by encouraging coeducation and the organization of programs for girls and women who have left school prematurely.  As for paragraph (h), it states that women and young girls should have access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning.

Questions

1.       Are legislative and administrative measures being undertaken to guarantee equal access to education for men and women? Are these measures being implemented effectively?

2.       Can Lebanese girls take the same subjects as boys, at primary and secondary school and university? If so, are these girls aware of the opportunities that are available to them? What is the percentage of female graduates from primary, secondary schools and universities?

3.       What are the overall literacy rates for males and females?  Please also specify according to the following categories:

a)       15-24

b)       25-44

c)       45 and above

4.       In schools that are not co-educational, are the teaching staff, curricula, examinations, school premises and equipment of the same quality for boys and girls? Please specify the differences.

5.       Do girls have the opportunity to pursue the same studies as boys?

6.       What is the percentage of women graduating in the following fields

a)       Law

b)       Engineering

c)       Arts and Sciences

d)       Medicine

e)       Agriculture

7.       Are scholarships and grants equally available to women and men?  What is the average number of women shortlisted per year for such scholarships and grants as compared to men? Are there any scholarships and grants available only for men? Are there any scholarships and grants available only for women?

8.       What is the percentage of women enrolled each year in adult education and literacy programs?  Are there any obstacles to women's enrollement? Please specify.  Do such obstacles affect a particular group of women (such as migrant women)?

9.       Please identify the laws and policies that strive to keep girls in school until school leaving age.  Is education compulsory? Please specify.

10.   What educational programmes are available for girls and women who have dropped out of school? What are the qualifications and experiences of the teachers in such programmes?

11.   Please indicate the dropout rates for women at primary, secondary and post-secondary levels (refer to statistics if available).  What are the major causes?

12.   What percentage of all teachers are women at:

a)        primary level

b)       secondary level

c)       university level

13.   What percentage of school principals and heads of departments are women? What percentage of university professors and heads of departments are women?

14.   Do women have the equal access as men to family life education, including family planning? Is education for family life and family planning included in the outline of the course?

15.   Are there any regulations that prohibit participation of women and girls in sports and physical education? Is it culturally acceptable for all women to participate in all sports?

16.   Is there equal access for men and women to sports facilities?

17.   Have studies been undertaken assessing the performance of girls graduating from co-educational schools in comparison to those who attend single sex schools? Please specify the results of these studies.

18.   Is career and vocational guidance available to inform girls of the full range of vocational opportunities? Do girls need special encouragement to take up these opportunities? Please specify. Also specify the barriers encountered in taking up these opportunities.

Article 11

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

a)       The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;

b)       The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment;

c)       The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and recurrent training;The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;

d)       The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave;

e)       The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction;

2.       In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

a)       To prohibit subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and discrimination in dismissals on the basis of marital status;

b)       To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances;

c)       To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities;

d)       To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful to them.

3.       Protective legislation relating to matters covered in this article shall be reviewed periodically in the light of scientific and technological knowledge shall be revised repealed or extended as necessary.

Commentary

Article 11 is divided into three main sections.  A first section sets out women’s rights in employment.  The second part deals with necessary measures to eliminate discrimination in employment on the basis of marriage or maternity.  The third part deals with the necessary periodic review of protective labor legislation in the light of new knowledge

The Committee, in adopting its general recommendation no. 12 (eighth session 1989) on violence against women, included article 11 among those that require States Parties to act to protect women against violence of any kind occurring among others, at the work place.

In this respect, sexual harassement in the workplace can be considered as gender-specific violence that seriously jeopardizes equality in employment. Is considered as sexual harassement any such unwelcome sexually determined behavior as physical contact and advances, inappropriate remarks with sexual implications, showing pornography and sexual demand, whether by words or actions. It is discriminatory in a working environment when the woman feels that her refusal of sexual advances would disadvantage her in connection with her employment, including recruitment or promotion, or when it creates a hostile situation in the workplace.

Questions

1.       Please indicate all laws that regulate working hours, minimum working age, health and retirement.

2.       What obstacles do Lebanese women encounter in rural and urban environments? Are there any distinctions in the employment rate between rural women and urban women.

3.       Are there any distinctions in recruitment and employment practices between women and men? Please specify. What provisions exist to eliminate discrimination against women in employment? Are these provisions enforced? Please specify

4.       What legislative or other measures have been taken to promote equal employment opportunities for women and men?  Are cases on the subject of discrimination against women  being heard before the Lebanese courts?

5.       What percentage of the total waged workforce is woman? Of the total waged workforce between ages:

a)       15-24

b)        25-44

c)       45 and older

6.       Of the women in the waged labour force, what percentage are part-time workers? What percentage are fulltime workers? What percentage of part-time and full-time workers overall are women?

7.       Are there industries in which women perform piecework in their homes? Are there regulations, which affect such work? Are such workers entitled to benefits, for example, sick leave, and holiday pay? What is the level of wage for such work compared with other employment?

8.       Are there professions that, by law or custom, tend to be filled predominantly by women? Please specify. Are there professions that, by law or custom, tend to be filled predominantly by men? If so, please specify?

9.       Does the Government ensure that opportunities exist for women in occupations which are not traditionally pursued by women? Are women encouraged to take up apprenticeships in fields not usually pursued by women? Are there laws that exclude women of practicing certain jobs?

10.   Are women entitled by law to receive equal pay as men for work of the same value? What percentage of men's wages do women receive? What means are available to challenge discrimination in pay? What are the barriers that prevent implementation of pay equity laws? If pay equity provisions exist, how is quality of work evaluated? Does this evaluation lead to equality of treatment?

11.   What work-related benefits are available to workers generally? Do women receive equal benefits such as holiday pay, sick leave, job training, disability and old age benefits?

12.   Is work done by women in the home counted as part of the work done in the labour force and included in national statistics (e.g. calculation of GDP/GNP)? Is unpaid agricultural work counted as part of the country's gross national product?

13.   What is the mandatory retirement age for men and for women? What is the usual voluntary retirement age for men and for women? Do men and women contribute the same amounts towards their pensions?

14.   Does Lebanon have social security legislation? Are all women covered by such legislation? Please specify. Do wives benefit from pension plans held by their husbands and vice versa?

15.   Is employment security affected by pregnancy? Does the country have provisions to ensure that women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are not subject to dismissal? If so what sanctions, if any, are provided for such dismissal?

16.   Does Lebanon have a system of maternity leave? How effective is it? Is it enforced? What penalties exist for violations? Has research  been conducted to determine its use and effectiveness?

17.   by law or policy? Is it done in practice?

18.   Has Lebanon established a system for parental leave? If so, can it be shared between parents? If parental leave provisions exist, what percentage of men take it?

19.   If Lebanon has provision for paid leave, is such leave equally available to men and women?

20.   Is there provision for flexible working patterns, such as job-sharing or permanent part-time employment with family responsibilities? If so, what effect does working in this way have on the increase of work-related benefits and seniority and promotion?

21.   What health and safety laws and regulations does the country have regarding working conditions? Do legal provisions exist to provide women with special protection during pregnancy in types of work proven to be harmful to them? What sort of work is regarded as being particularly harmful?

22.   Are there particular forms of work, for example night work, underground, and mine work or work in particular industries that restrict women's participation? If so, on what basis are women restricted from participating? What effect do such restrictions have on women's economic opportunities? If provisions exist to protect the health and safety of women at work are they subject to regular review in the light of scientific and technical advances?

23.   Does Lebanon have a network of child-care facilities? Please specify what types of child care are available for working women? Does the government support, financially or otherwise, child-care? Are there any legal measures regulating the establishment and function of such facilities where they exist? If so, what are they?

24.   What percentage of employers provide child care? What percentage of children 0-3 are in child-care? Ages 3-6?

25.   How are school-age children cared for when parents work longer than the school day?

26.   Are nursing breaks for breastfeeding mothers required by law? In practice, are they provided? In practice, do women take advantage of them?

27.   What is the extent of unionisation of the labour force? What percentage of women are members of unions overall? What is the level of unionisation in areas of the labour market dominated by women?

28.   Has Lebanon undertaken measures to address sexual harrassment and violence against women in the work-place? Please specify.

Article 12

1.       States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

2.       Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

Commentary

States parties’ compliance with article 12 of the Convention is central to the health and well-being of women.  It requires States to eliminate discrimination against women in their access to health care services, throughout the life cycle, particularly in the areas of family planning, pregnancy, confinement, and during the post-natal period.  The examination of reports submitted by States parties pursuant to article 18 of the Convention demonstrates that women’s health is an issue that is recognized as a central concern in promoting the health and well-being of women.  For the benefit of States parties and those who have a particular interest in and concern with the issues surrounding women’s health, the present general recommendation seeks to elaborate the Committee’s understanding of article 12 and to address measures to eliminate discrimination in order to realize the right of women to the highest attainable standard of health.

While biological differences between women and men may lead to differences in health status, there are societal factors which are determinative of the health status of women and men and which can vary among women themselves.  For that reason, special attention should be given to the health needs and rights of women belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as migrant women, refugee and internally displaced women, the girl child and older women, women in prostitution, indigenous women and women with physical or mental disabilities.

The Committee notes that the full realization of women’s right to health can be achieved only when States parties fulfil their obligation to respect, protect and promote women’s fundamental human right to nutritional well-being throughout their live span be mans of a food supply that is safe, nutritional and adapted to local conditions.  Towards this end, States parties should take steps to facilitate physical and economic access to productive resources especially for rural women, and to otherwise ensure that the special nutritional needs of all women within their jurisdiction are met.

Questions

1.       What are the health policies and guidelines adopted by the State ? What measures have been taken to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care? Do women have the same access as men to health care services?

2.       Is health care for women during pregnancy and in post-natal period free of charge?

3.       Does the Lebanese government guarantee adequate nutrition for women during pregnancy and lactation?

4.       Are health facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, available for women? Is the medical staff (including physicians, nurses, auxiliary health personnel, family planning workers, and community agents) dedicated to the health needs of women?

5.       What are major causes of female mortality and morbidity? What is the maternal mortality rate?

6.       What are the infant and child mortality rates for boys and girls? What are the major causes of infant and child mortality and morbidity for girls? What are the major causes of infant and child mortality and morbidity for boys?

7.       What is the average life expectancy for men and women?

8.       What are the birth rates and death rates for men and women?

9.       What is the average number of live births per woman? What is the unmet need for contraception? What is the prevalence of contraception, by method?

10.   What legal or cultural obstacles are there to women receiving health care services, including family planning?

11.   How many women work in the health care field? In what areas of the health care sector do they work? At what level of seniority in these areas do they work?

12.   Is the husband's authorisation required, either by law or in practice, before married women can receive health services including family planning?

13.   Are there laws and policies in Lebanon that require use of family planning measures?

14.   Is abortion legal? Please specify

15.   Is pre-natal foetal testing available? If so, what is the incidence of abortion following pre-natal testing? If there is incidence of abortion following pre-natal testing, what are the major reasons for such abortions?

16.   Are there laws or policies in Lebanon that require abortion? Please specify

17.   If abortion is not legal, is it performed anyway? What statistics are available for death and/or illness dues to related abortion? What provisions are made for care of women with incomplete abortions?

18.   Is elective sterilisation available? If so, what is the incidence of elective sterilisation for women? For men? Are there laws or policies requiring sterilisation? What sanctions exist for failure to comply with these laws or policies?

19.   Is female genital mutilation or circumcision legal? Is it practised?  If so, under what circumstances?

20.   Do any groups in the country perpetuated practices (for example, dietary restrictions for pregnant women) that might be harmful to women's health? If so, are measures being undertaken to eradicate such practices?

21.   Are measures being taken to increase public awareness of the risk effects sexually transmitted diseases, particularly, HIV/AIDS? Are any of these measures been aimed specifically at women and girls?

22.   Are programmes been introduced to combat sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS? If so, are any of these programmes dedicated to women and girls? Do any of these programmes pay particular attention to women's reproductive role and female subordination as factors that make women and girls vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, particularly, HIV/AIDS?

23.   What measures have been introduced to ensure the participation of women as health care workers in the context of HIV/AIDS? Are health care services offered on an equal basis to rural women and urban women?

24.   What is the yearly rate of teen pregnancy and teen motherhood?

25.   Do women face drug addiction problems? What measures (including curative ones) are undertaken to eliminate these addiction problems?

 

Article 13

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

a)       The right to family benefits

b)       The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit;

c)       The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.

Commentary

According to article 13 a) and b), States Parties should guarantee women the same social and economic rights as men.  Women should therefore enjoy the right to family benefits, such as family allowances, housing subsidies and child care.  Women should also be able to exercise their economic and financial rights without being subjected to the approval and consent of  their husband or male relative.  They have the right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial or tax credit.

As for article 13 c), it guarantees women the right to participate in recreational and cultural activities as well as sports.  Therefore, States Parties should take all appropriate measures to eliminate legal, social, economic and cultural barriers that prevent women's participation in cultural and recreational activities as well as sports.

Questions

1.       Does Lebanon has a system of family benefits? Please specify the conditions to qualify for such benefits.

2.       Do married women have access to family benefits such as:

a)       children's allowances

b)       public housing

c)       health insurance

d)       special government loans

3.       Do unmarried and married women have equal access to family benefits?

4.       What are the procedures for the payment of family benefits?  Is the payment done directly or through the tax system as credits or deductions with respect to taxes? Who effectively receives the benefits, the primary caregiver or the family unit?

5.       Do women, particularly married women,  have access to loans, mortgages, and other forms of financial credit? If not what are the obstacles? Do they need the consent of their husbands or male guardian to obtain credit?

6.       Is there any mechanism by which women who consider that they have been unjustly treated can complain?

7.       Are their legal, socio economic and cultural obstacles that prevent women of participating in recreational activities, such as sports and various cultural activities?

8.       Are there any social services for single women, divorcees and widows? Do their children have access to family benefits?

Article 14

1.       States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the present Convention to women in rural areas.

2.       States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in an benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:

a)       To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;

b)       To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counselling and services in family planning;

c)       To benefit directly from social security programmes

d)       To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, including that relating to functional literacy, as well as, inter alia, the benefit of all community and extension services, in order to increase their technical proficiency;

e)       To organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self-employment;

f)         To participate in all community activities;

g)       To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;

h)       To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.

Commentary

Article 14 of the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women pays special attention to rural women.  Rural women play a significant role in the economic survival of their families and are not acknowledged accordingly.  Moreover, rural women are at risk of gender-based violence because traditional attitudes regarding the subordinate role of women continue to persist in many rural communities.  Girls from rural communities are at special risk of violence and sexual exploitation when they leave the rural community to seek employment in towns. Taking into account the above-mentioned facts, all States should make sure that rural women enjoy the same social, economic and financial rights as men.  This includes the right to participate in development planning and implementation, the right to benefit directly from social security programmes, the right to have access to agricultural credit and loans, and the right to education.  States are also obligated to guarantee rural women's access to adequate living conditions and health care facilities

Questions

1.       Are rural women aware of their rights under the Convention? What measures are being, or have been taken to make women in rural areas aware of their rights?

2.       Is the development rate of rural women equal to that of urban women? Do rural women have equal access to eduation, employment and healthcare as urban women do?

3.       In rural areas, are married, widowed, divorced, non-married, and childless women treated differently from each other?

4.       What percentage of agricultural work in rural areas is done by women? What type of work is generally done by rural women (including cooking, cleaning, water carrying, child-care, marketing, etc.)

5.       Do rural women participate in developing economic and agricultural policies? Is their contribution taken into account in computing Gross National Product?

6.       Are rural women represented in government and on bodies and commissions involved with development planning? If, so, what is their representation and input?

7.       What special programs, if any, have been developed to meet the needs of rural women? Does the national budget set aside a specific amount for programmes to benefit rural women? If so, what are they?

8.       Is there a national policy with regard to the provision of family planning services for women in rural areas? If so, what is it?  To what extent are family planning programmes designed to reach both women and men?

9.       How does the availability of health services, including family planning, in rural areas compare to that in urban areas? What obstacles hinder or prevent women from receiving family planning services and counselling in rural areas?

10.   What measures and follow-up facilities are made available to ensure safe contraception for rural women?

11.   How does the mortality rate of rural women compare to that of urban women? The maternal mortality rate? Life expectancy? Nutritional status? Percent receiving prenatal care? Family planning services?

12.   What are the infant mortality rates in rural compared to urban areas?

13.   Do rural women have access to social security programmes? Are any specifically directed to rural women? How do they qualify for coverage?

14.   Are training and education available for rural women locally? If such training exists, are there statistics indicating how many rural women participate?

15.   What percentage of rural girls and women are enrolled in primary, secondary and university level education? How do these percentages compare with urban enrollement?

16.   What percentage of rural women ages 15-24 are illiterate? How do these percentages compare with corresponding percentages for urban women?

17.   Do any self-help groups or co-operatives exist for women in rural areas? Does the state recognise the right of rural women to organise self-help groups and to participate in co-operative and other economic or development programmes as individuals? If not, what obstacles hinder their establishment?

18.   If such groups exist do they organise to allow women to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self-employment? If not, what is their function?

19.   Does the country have any marketing facilities? If so, do they pay attention to the needs of rural women? Can women use rural marketing facilities to sell their goods? What percent of these facilities are used by women?

20.   Are agricultural extension services designed to reach women directly? What percentage of agricultural credit and loans in rural areas are actually given to women?

21.   Can women hold title to land? Does women's title to land derive from their husbands or fathers or brothers or uncles or nephews?

22.   Has the country undertaken any land or agrarian reform? If so, how has this affected rural women's title to land?

23.   What specific provisions exist to ensure adequate living conditions for rural women?Are there special provisions relating to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply which take into account the needs of rural women?

24.   Are there special provisions relating to transport and communications, which take into account the needs of rural women?

25.   When reform of sanitation, electricity, water supply, transport and communication is considered are the special needs of rural women taken into account? Are rural women involved in the planning and decision-making process?

26.   In what community activities do rural women participate? Are there any religious or cultural traditions that keep women from participating?

Article 15

1.       States Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law.

2.       States Parties shall accord women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity.  In particular, they shall give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property and shall treat them equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals.

3.       States Parties agree that all contracts and all other private instruments of any kind with a legal effect, which is directed at restricting the legal capacity of women, shall be deemed null and void.

4.       States Parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose their residence and domicile.

Commentary

Article 15(1) stipulates that  "States Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law".  By ensuring legal autonomy to women, paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of article 15 guarantee women equal legal capacity with men in civil matters and gives them the same opportunity as men to exercise that capacity. A woman should therefore be able to enter a contract, or have access to financial credit without her husband's or male relative's concurrence or guarantee. She should also enjoy the right to hold property as the sole owner and manage her own business.  As stated in general recommendation no 21: "A woman’s right to bring litigation is limited in some countries by law or by her access to legal advice and her ability to seek redress from the courts.  In others, her status as a witness or her evidence is accorded less respect or weight than of a man."  When the laws of these countries limit woman's right to pursue or retain her equal share of property, they are not only denying a woman her right to be equal with men but they are also diminishing her standing as an independent and responsible person.

As for paragraph 4, it grants the same rights to men and women, with regard to the law relating to movement of persons, choice of residence and domicile. A woman, regardless of her marital status should be able to change her domicile. As stated in General recommendation 21, any restrictions on a woman’s right to choose a domicile on the same basis as a man contrevenes article 15 because it limits her access to the courts in the country in which she lives and prevents her from entering and leaving a country freely in her own right.

Questions

1.       Do Lebanese laws and regulation treat women equally with men with respect to their legal capacity to sign contracts and administer property? Please indicate the relevant laws and regulations.

2.       Do women have the right to sign contracts related to credit, real estate etc.?

3.       Can women get health care, including contraceptives, without their husband's or male guardian's consent?

4.       Do women have the same rights as men to administer property? Can women be executors or administrators of estates?

5.       Do women have the right to administer property without any interference of a male, regardless of whether they acquired it during marriage, bring it into marriage or are unmarried?

6.       Has Lebanon given effect to the obligations in article 15 paragraph 3 which requires that all contracts (such as marriage contracts and commercial contracts) and other instruments aimed at restricting women's legal capacity be considered void?

7.       Are women treated equally in courts? Can women take their place in the legal system equally as men? Can women sue and be sued in their own name? Is the testimony of a women equal in weight to the testimony of a man? Are women lawyers entitled to represent clients before courts? Can they serve in the judiciary, in civil, customary and religious courts?

8.       Do women have equal access to legal services? Can they obtain free legal aid?  Are women aware of all procedures regarding access to legal aid?

9.       Are women given similar damage compensation as men in comparable circumstances? Do men and women get the same sentence for crimes and misdemeanours committed in comparable circumstances?

10.   Have studies been conducted regarding judicial practices that have a different impact on women and men?

11.   Are there legal concepts, such as special defences, which apply to women and not men?

12.   Can women exercise the same legal rights of freedom of movement and choice of residence? Do women in Lebanon have the right to choose the place of residence? Do traditions or customs restrict women from exercising this right? Does marriage limit a woman's right to choose her residence?

13.   In cases of disagreement between the spouses regarding the place of residence, is judicial intervention required? Please specify the judicial process in this regard.

14.   Is a women's residence dependant on that of her male guardian or her husband? Under what circumstances does she keep her residence of origin?

15.   Do migrant women who live and work temporarily in other countries have equal rights as men to have their spouses and children join them?

 

Article 16

1.       States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

a)       The same right to enter into marriage;

b)       The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

c)       The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;

d)       The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children, in all cases the interests of the child shall be paramount;

e)       The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education , and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

f)         The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exists in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

g)       The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;

h)       The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.

i)         The betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.

Commentary

Article 16 obligates States Parties to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against woemn in matters relating to marriage and family relations..

Article 16(1) (a) and (b)

While most countries report that national constitutions and laws comply with the Convention, custom, tradition and failure to enforce these laws in reality contravene the Convention.

A woman’s right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and to her dignity and equality as a human being.  An examination of States parties’ reports discloses that there are countries, which, on the basis of custom, religious beliefs or the ethnic origins of particular groups of people, permit force marriage or remarriages.  Other countries allow a woman’s right to choose, when, if, and whom she will marry must be protected and enforced by law.

Article 16(1) c)

An examination of States parties’ reports discloses that may countries in their legal systems provide the rights and responsibilities of married partners by relying on the application of common law principles, religious or customary law, rather than by complying with the principles contained in the Convention.  These variations in law and practice relating to marriage have wide-ranging consequences for women, invariably restricting their rights to equal status and responsibility within marriage.  Such limitations often result in the husband being accorded the status of head of household and primary decision-maker and therefore contravene the positions of the Convention.

Moreover, generally a de facto union is not given legal protection at all.  Women living in such relation ships should have their equality of status with men both in family life and in the sharing of income and assets protected by law.  Such women should share equal rights and responsibilities with men for the care and raising of dependent children or family members.

Article (1) (d) and (f)

As provided in article 5(b), most States recognize the shared responsibility of parents for the care, protection and maintenance of children.  The principle that “ the best interests of the Child shall be the paramount consideration”, has been included in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and seems now to be universally accepted.  However in practice, some countries do not observe the principle of granting the parents of children equal status, particularly when they are not married.  The children of such unions do not always enjoy the same status as those born in wedlock and, where the others are divorced or living apart, many fathers fail to share the responsibility of care, protection and maintenance of their children.

The shared rights and responsibilities enunciated in the Convention should be enforced at law and as appropriate through legal concepts of guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption.  States parties should ensure that by their laws both parents, regardless of their marital status and whether they live with their children or not, share equal rights and responsibilities for their children.

Article 16(1) (e)

The responsibilities that women have to bear and raise children affect their right of access to education, employment and other activities related to their personal development.  They also impose inequitable burdens of work on women.  The number and spacing of their children have a similar impact on women’s lives and also affect their physical and mental health, as well as that of their children.  For these reasons, women are entitled to decide on the number and spacing of their children.

There is general agreement that where there are freely available appropriate measures for the voluntary regulation of fertility, the health, development and well-being of all members of the family improves.  Moreover, such services improve the general quality of life and health of the population, and the voluntary regulation of population growth helps preserve the environment and achieve sustainable economic and social development.

Article 16(1) (g)

A stable family is one which is based on principles of equity, justice and individual fulfillment for each member.  Each partner must therefore have the right to choose a profession or employment that is best suited to his or her abilities, qualifications and aspirations, as provided in article 11 (a) and c) of the Convention.  Moreover each partner should have the right to choose his or her name, thereby preserving individuality and identity in the community and distinguishing that person from other members of society.  When by law or custom a woman is obliged to change her name on marriage or its dissolution, she is denied these rights.

Article 16(1) (h)

In most countries, a significant proportion of the women are single or divorced and many have the sole responsibility to support a family.  Any discrimination in the division of property that rests on the premise that the man alone is responsible for the support of the women and children of his family and that he can and will honorably discharge this responsibility is clearly unrealistic.  Consequently, any law or custom that grants men a greater share of property at the end of marriage or de facto relationship, or on the death of a relative, is discriminatory and will have a serious impact on a woman’s practical ability to divorce her husband, to support herself or her family and to live in dignity as an independent person.

All of these rights should be guaranteed regardless of a woman’s marital status.

Marital property

There are countries that do not acknowledge that right of women to won an equal share of the property with the husband during a marriage or de facto relationship and when that marriage or relationship ends.  Many countries recognize that right, but the practical ability of women to exercise it may be limited by legal precedent or custom.

Even when these legal rights are vested in women, and the courts enforce them, property owned by a woman during marriage or on divorce may be managed by a man.  In many States, including those where there is a community-property regime, there is no legal requirement that a woman be consulted when property owned by the parties during marriage or de facto relationship is sold or otherwise disposed of.  This limits the woman’s ability to control disposition of the property or the income derived from it.

In some countries, on division of marital property, greater emphasis is placed on financial contributions to property acquired during the marriage, and other contributions, such as raising children, caring for elderly relatives and discharging household duties are diminished.  Often, such contributions of a non-financial nature by the wife enable the husband to earn an income and increase the assets.  Financial and non-financial contributions should be accorded the same weight.

In many countries, property accumulated during a de facto, relationship is not treated at law on the same basis as property acquired during marriage.  Invariably, if the relationship ends, the woman receives a significantly lower share than her partner does.  Property laws and customs that discriminate in this way against married or unmarried women with or without children should be revoked and discouraged.

Inheritance

There are many countries where the law and practice concerning inheritance and property result in serious discrimination against women.  As a result of this uneven treatment, women may receive a smaller share of the husband’s or father’s property at his death than would widowers and sons.  In some instances, women are granted limited and controlled rights and receive income only from the deceased’s property.  Often inheritance rights for widows do not reflect the principles of equal ownership of property acquired during marriage.  Such provisions contravene the Convention and should be abolished.

Article 16(2)

When men and women marry, they assume important responsibilities.  Consequently, marriage should not be permitted before they have attained full maturity and capacity to act.  According to the World Health Organization, when minors, particularly girls, marry and have children, their health can be adversely affected and their education is impeded.  As a result their economic autonomy is restricted. This not only affects women personally but also limits the development of their skills and independence and reduces access to employment, thereby detrimentally affecting their families and communities.

Some countries provide for different ages for marriage for men and women.  As such provisions assume incorrectly that women have a different rate of intellectual development from men, or that their stage of physical and intellectual development at marriage is immaterial, these provisions should be abolished.  In other countries, the betrothal of girls or undertakings by family members on their behalf is permitted.  Such measures contravene not only the Convention, but also a woman’s right freely to choose her partner.

States parties should also require the registration of all marriages whether contracted civilly or according to custom or religious law.  The State can thereby ensure compliance with the Convention and establish equality between partners, a minimum age for marriage, prohibition of bigamy and polygamy and the protection of the rights of children.

Questions

1.       Are family relations governed by civil law, religious laws, customary laws, or a combination of these? Please explain.  Are women treated equally with men under these laws?

2.       What types or forms of family exist under civil, religious, and customary laws? Are they marriages, unions, partnerships, or other kinds of cohabitation.  Are they recognised by the State?

3.       Do women have the same freedom to choose a spouse as men? Does the country ensure that all marriages are entered into with the free and full consent of the woman? In what ways?

4.       Do men and women have the same rights and responsibilities during marriage? If not, how do these differ, both in law, in practice, and in traditional legal system?

5.       Is polygamy permitted by law? If so, which law? Is it done in practice? What percentage of marriages are polygamous?

6.       In polygamous marriages, what are the rights and responsibilities of husbands towards wives and wives towards husbands?

7.       What are the rights and responsibilities of men and women who live together as husband and wife without legal marriage towards each other and towards their children?

8.       Do women have the same rights as men to choose a profession and occupation? Are these rights affected by marriage? If so, are they aware of these rights? Do they exercise these rights?

9.       Do women have the same rights as men to own, acquire, manage and dispose of property? If the husband is declared bankrupt, how are the rights of the wife affected?

10.   Do married women have an equal voice with their husbands in the management and disposal of property acquired during marriage? Does disposal of property require the consent of the other spouse?

11.   Is divorce available to men and women on the same grounds? Does divorce by "renunciation" occur either in law or practice? Are divorces registered?

12.   On dissolution of marriage what are the rights of the wife with respect to property? Are these the same as the rights of the husband?

13.   What are the legal obligations to pay maintenance to a divorced husband or wife? Do women have rights to maintenance on divorce? If so, are such rights enforced?

14.   How is property divided after divorce? Is a woman's work in the home, or her unpaid agricultural labour, counted as a contribution towards the value of the property? Is this work reflected in the division of property on divorce?

15.   What rights do those who live together as husband and wife without legal marriage have with respect to property during the relationship and on its breakdown? Do such partners have a right to maintenance during the relationship and on its breakdown?

16.   What is the law and practice relating to the abuse of wives and de facto wives?

17.   Do women have the right to decide freely the number and spacing of their children? Do they have access, without having to ask anyone's permission, to information and services for family planning? In practice, do family planning providers provide information and treatment to women without the knowledge or consent of their husbands?

18.   Is there a national policy concerning family planning? If so what is it? Does it encompass access to family planning information, education and services?

19.   Are there any factors which obstruct women's exercise of their rights to family planning information, education and services? Are any measures taken to address these obstacles?

20.   Do women have the same rights as men, regardless of their marital status, to make decisions about the upbringing of their children?

21.   Do women have the right to retain their own name on marriage? If so, what percentage of women retain their own name on marriage? Describe the law relating to the selection of family name.  If the law requires the selection of one family name, do women have equal rights with men to nominate their name as the family name? Can they add their name to the family name? If they can nominate their name as the family name or add their name to the family name, what is the percentage of women who do this? Do women have rights with respect to the choice of the family name of their children? If so, do they know them and exercise them?

22.   Do women have the same rights to custody of their children as men? Are those rights, if they exist, affected by the marital status of the women?

23.   Who is the natural guardian of the child? Do women have the same rights as men in matters of guardianship, wardship, trusteeship, and adoption of children?

24.   Are fathers of children required to pay child support? Are child support orders enforced?

25.   Do single parents have the right to appropriate child support from the other parent? Is this right enforceable? How?

26.   What is the age of majority? Is it set by legislation? Is it different for males and females?

27.   Do provisions exist which set a minimum age  for marriage for males and females? How are they enforced? What is the minimum age of marriage? Is it the same for males and females? Are there exceptions to this minimum age? What are the grounds for such exceptions? What is the mean age at marriage for females? For males?

28.   Is child marriage a matter of custom in particular areas or among particular groups? Is it legally recognised? If it exists, how does it affect women's choice in marriage?

29.   Is the betrothal of children prohibited? If the country has traditionally accepted child betrothals or marriages, has legislation been introduced  to restrict this practice? If so, has such legislation affected traditional customs concerning the betrothal of children?

30.   Is there a legislative provision setting the minimum legal age of consent to sexual intercourse? Is the age different for men and women? Does sexual intercourse below this age result in criminal penalty? If there is a minimum legal age for sexual intercourse, does it correspond with the minimum age of marriage?

31.   Is the registration of marriages and divorces required by law? Are there procedures for the registration of marriage? If so, what are they and are they enforced?

32.   Is information disseminated about laws on minimum age of marriage, consent to marriage and registration of marriage?

33.   Is it customary or legal to pay a bride price or dowry? If so, what effect does this have on marriage? In States Parties with dual or plural legal systems, what is the position of statutory law and its interpretation , and of  customary or religious law, on bride price or dowry? How does bride price or dowry affect the equality of women? If laws have been introduced to regulate the practises of dowry or bride price have they been enforced? What has been the effect of such laws?

34.   What are the rules regarding inheritance? Are they beneficial to women? If so, do women make use of them?

35.   Legally and in practice, what are the rights and oblications of widows?  In what way, if any, do they differ from the rights and obligations of widowers? Are widows required to perform any rite of purification on the death of their husbands? If so, do widowers have to perform the same rites? What is the social status of widows? Is this status different from that of widowers?

36.   Do widows and daughters of a deceased man have legal right to inherit land and other property if there is no will? If they have such a right is it equal to that of widowers and sons? Can a widow or daughter receive property under a will? If so, is there any legal or customary constraint on a testator bequeathing the same share of property to widows and daughters as the widowers and sons?

37.   What percentage of households are headed by a female? What percentage of poor households are headed by a female?