Based on the results of the 64th session of the UN Committee on Socio-Economic and Cultural Rights, experts of the Committee made recommendations to the authorities of Turkmenistan aimed at achieving gender equality within the framework of implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
According to members of the Committee, the pervasive and long-standing problem of discrimination against women continues to exist in Turkmenistan both at the legislative level and in everyday life. Experts noted with regret the continued existence of prohibitions for women’s access to certain professions, low level of their participation in the labor market and the pernicious influence of deeply-entrenched gender stereotypes.
Seven years ago, while considering the last state report of Turkmenistan, members of CESCR expressed their concern about the lack of access of women to certain professions under the pretext of protecting their physical well-being, and also noted the inequality of opportunities for men and women in work and employment. Although in 2011 Turkmenistan has already received recommendations to adopt measures aimed at increasing women’s access to all types of work, it is clear that this was not done. The list of questions to Turkmenistan, which was submitted in October 2017, featured inquiries made by the experts of the Committee about the progress in revision of professional prohibitions for women. However, the authorities of Turkmenistan explicitly stated that, according to the laws of Turkmenistan, neither pay differentials nor other differences caused by special care for persons in need of special social and legal protection (women, minors, disabled, etc.) were considered discriminatory.
Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”, which continues #AllJobs4allWomen campaign to fight against professional restrictions for women in post-Soviet countries, welcomes the position of CESCR: the Committee’s experts recommended that all gender-based professional prohibitions be lifted as well as effective measures be adopted to overcome the wage gap between women and men. The Committee’s experts confirmed the position expressed by their colleagues earlier: it was just in July 2018 that the UN CEDAW, after considering the 5th state report of Turkmenistan, recommended to cancel the lists of jobs prohibited for women, because they were considered discriminatory, and recognized that protective measures could be acceptable only for pregnant women and mothers caring for babies. Members of both Committees drew attention to the need of abandoning discriminatory practices against women and girls that impede their education and professional fulfilment. UN CESCR also recommended to adopt measures to change the public awareness of stereotypes and gender roles by actively educating the population of the country.
Among other important issues affecting the observance of economic, social and cultural rights, the Committee discussed the need for Turkmenistan to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, as well as to decriminalize same-sex sexual relations of men.