List of questions on the situation of women from vulnerable groups in Russia presented to UN CEDAW

Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and the Russian LGBT Network submitted information about victims of multiple discrimination and violations of women’s rights in the workplace and employment in the Russian Federation to the 78th pre-session of the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Human rights defenders, while pointing out the achievements of the #Alljobs4allwomen campaign in reducing the list of professional occupations prohibited for women, drew attention to the need for widely informing women about cancellation of the earlier existing bans, attracting them to jobs, which were previously prohibited for them, and to opening training in these occupations. They also criticized other obstacles faced by women on the path to their professional self-realization, i.e. the lack of legal standards for protection against harassment at work and in educational institutions, as well as attempts by the state to regulate birth control.

Women belonging to vulnerable groups face multiple discrimination on a number of grounds on a regular basis, including their ethnic origin, religious beliefs, migration status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Migrant workers suffer from xenophobia in various spheres of life, including healthcare, while they face risks to their health when going to informal medical offices, etc. Migrant women are deprived of liberty in deportation centers, while mothers are also separated from their children, and pregnant women do not receive the necessary medical assistance.

Women in traditional communities (Northern Caucasus, Crimea, indigenous peoples of the Far North and Siberia) suffer from deep-rooted traditional gender stereotypes. At the same time women activists who defend the rights of their communities are subjected to repression. Structural discrimination of the Roma population makes the situation of Roma women especially vulnerable, while the problems of poverty, lack of education and employment, provision of personal identity documents, access to social assistance and medical care are not resolved. Girls from compact Roma settlements face the harmful practice of segregation in schools and as a rule do not receive proper education. Harmful practices in a number of traditional communities, such as early and forced marriages, bride kidnappings, forced deprivation of virginity and female genital mutilation (female circumcision) often go unpunished.

Lesbian, bi- and trans- (LBT) women face the negative consequences of the Russian law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” in the medical sphere, employment and family. Activists are subject to repression, and members of the LBT community become victims of hate crimes and attacks. Human rights defenders and LBT women face severe persecution in Northern Caucasus.

Given the particular interest of the UN CEDAW members to the impact of the COVID pandemic on the situation of women, human rights defenders pointed out the particular risks faced by medical workers, who are employed in the mainly low-paid healthcare sector. They also pointed out reprisals against female doctors who had publicly spoken out on the lack of protective gear, medicines and medical equipment.

In July 2020, the Committee will formulate and present its questions concerning Russia’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.