On January 31, Moldova completed the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). It will come into force 3 months after the ratification – at May 1, 2022.
Ratification of the Convention means recognition of the problem of gender-based violence and domestic violence and the willingness of the state to change the situation, i.e. amend national legislation, expand the concept of violence against women (in addition to physical and sexual violence, it is also psychological violence, stalking, forced marriage, forced abortion, forced sterilization, harassment), strengthen or create legal, psychological, social support and protection of victims, effective prosecution of perpetrators. The Convention defines violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination, and obliges countries to develop and adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, adopt an action plan on elimination of gender discrimination, and strengthen support for NGOs working on countering gender-based violence.
Ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Moldova responded to the recommendations of Human Rights defenders and international bodies. In alternative reports to UN Committees submitted by ADC Memorial in partnership with colleagues from Moldova, the Human Rights defenders called the authorities to respect women’s rights and improve national legislation. In 2017, in a report to the UN Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, we raised the problem of discrimination against women in employment and recommended to cancel the list of professions banned for women. Again in 2017, the attention of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was drawn to the multiple discrimination of Roma girls and women (harmful traditional practices of early marriage, problems of access to education, lack of support for Roma families). In 2020, in an alternative report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, we stressed that deeply rooted patriarchal views on gender roles in the family and society and related discriminatory stereotypes significantly slow down the process of achieving gender equality in employment, support horizontal and vertical gender segregation, that further increases women’s economic dependence. ADC Memorial called on the country’s authorities to conduct effective information campaigns on women’s rights in employment and countering gender stereotypes.
In 2020, among the recommendations of the UN CEDAW, there were accelerating the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, ratifying ILO Convention No. 190 against Violence and Harassment at Work, resuming the activities of the government body on equality of women and men, prohibiting sexist statements in the public sphere and the media, revising school curricula and textbooks in order to eliminate discriminatory gender stereotypes, as well as preventing the dissemination of such views by teachers.
Moldova already has good practices for achieving gender equality. Since 2013, the Anti-discrimination Law No. 121 “On Ensuring Equality” has been in force in Moldova; the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality has been working. In 2017, professional restrictions for women were abolished in Moldova – the list of professions prohibited for women was canceled, and special protective measures for pregnant, recently delivered and lactating women appeared in the country’s Labor Code. We welcome the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as a new step for the protection of Human Rights of the most vulnerable groups and for the improvement of state gender policy.
Moldova became the 35th country in the world and the second country in the post-Soviet region that ratified the Istanbul Convention (it is in force in Georgia since 2017).