Women 404 : the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has condemned the ban on women working as maritime professionals on board seagoing and river ships of the Russian Federation

ADC Memorial’s legal proceedings (that have lasted for more than 3 years), successfully proved that the practice of listing certain professions prohibited for women in the Russian Federation is discriminatory.  This concerns the 456 professions in 38 fields of work as listed in article 253 of the Labour Code of the Russian Federation and the government Regulation  no. 162 ( 25.02.2000).

The experts of ADC Memorial and lawyer Dmitry Bartenev filed a complaint to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2013.  Their applicant was Svetlana Medvedeva a maritime professional, who was unable to obtain a working place as an apprentice, as helmperson-motorist on board ships was ruled a profession “dangerous for women, just like all other professions related to deck and engine room of ships had been classified according to section 404 in the list of jobs prohibited to women.

The decision of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the case of Ms. Medvedeva, supported by ADC Memorial, was the first verdict against violations of Women Rights in the Russian Federation in the framework of the optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


The 23 members of the Committee concluded “that the adoption of a list of 456 occupations and 38 branches of industry contradicts the State party’s obligations under the Convention because it treats men and women differently, it in no way promotes the employment of women and it is based on discriminatory stereotypes”.

It also stated that “no evidence has been provided to the Committee that the inclusion of the position of helmsperson-motorist in the list of prohibited jobs is based on any scientific evidence that it may be harmful to women’s reproductive health”.

The Committee paid special attention to the fact that a great number of jobs became prohibited for women as they would theoretically endanger women’s reproductive ability, which underlines the stereotype of a woman being a mother in the first place and a professional in the second, that still dominates in Russia. The decision of the CEDAW clearly states that the existence of a prohibition on women to be employed in certain professions (while there are no such prohibitions for men despite obvious risks in some types of work for their health including damage to their reproductive function) is discriminatory and violates the principle of equal rights for men and women as guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women as well as the Constitution of the Russian Federation.


Read decision: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW/C/63/D/60/2013&Lang=en

Download decision CEDAW_C_63_D_60_2013_24505_E