ADC Memorial submitted alternative information on observance of women’s rights in Moldova to UN CEDAW

Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” provided alternative information to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on observance of women’s rights in Moldova. ADC “Memorial” also welcomed cancellation of the list of professions prohibited to women in this country in the reporting period (2017), which had been an important achievement of the #Alljobs4allwomen campaign.

Human rights defenders also welcomed other legislative measures adopted by Moldova in order to improve the status of women in the labor sphere since the previous report to the UN CEDAW in October 2013. The country’s authorities not only have abolished discriminatory rules, which had prohibited employment of women in certain jobs, but also had provided the necessary protective measures for certain categories of women. Thus, in the Labor Code of Moldova, there appeared definitions of the categories of women (pregnant women, women, who have recently given birth, and lactating women, Article 1 of the Labor Code), for which corresponding exclusive rights were provided. For example, the temporary transfer of women, who belong to these categories, to other positions is now mandatory if the main job could have negative consequences for the health of the future mother or her child. At the same time, the average wages are to be preserved not only for the period of transfer to another job, but also during the period before the employer provides the woman with a job that meets the necessary conditions in accordance with the Law on Health and Safety. Pregnant women and mothers of children up to 3 years old are to be transferred from night to daytime work (Article 250 of the Labor Code). The employers are now obliged to meet the requests not only of pregnant women, but also for parents of children under 10 years of age for transfer to shortened working day or shortened working week (Articles 97 and 971 of the Labor Code).

Despite the undeniably positive changes in the legislation of Moldova, experts of ADC Memorial drew attention of the UN CEDAW to the lack of sufficient awareness of these legal innovations among both women and employers along with representatives of state authorities. Moldovan women still earn less than men, they still represent a smaller part of the economically active population, and are disproportionally engaged in unpaid domestic work. Unfortunately, deep-rooted patriarchal stereotypes significantly slow down the process of achieving equality in labor sphere. Employment spheres are often quite distinctly divided in terms of gender: while healthcare, education, social welfare and hotel/restaurant business are considered to be typically “female” occupations, more highly paid and prestigious positions are occupied mainly by men. This situation currently leads to increased female migration, when working as nannies and caretakers abroad seems more promising even for women with higher education.

ADC Memorial called on the country’s authorities to carry out effective information campaigns on women’s rights in the labor sphere and to combat gender stereotypes, as well as to reform the classification register of professional occupations. During the reporting period, the recommendation of the Council of the Republic of Moldova on preventing and eliminating discrimination and ensuring equality had not been implemented, which had required adding feminitives to the classifiers of professional occupations and using both female and male names of positions for various professions.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will provide its final recommendations to the Moldovan authorities in February 2020.