UN CEDAW urges Ukraine to eliminate discrimination against Romani women
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and International Charitable Organization Roma Women Fund “Chiricli” welcome the Concluding Comments of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in its review of Ukraine’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The ERRC and Chiricli submitted a report to the Committee in the run-up to its review bringing attention to the situation of Romani women in Ukraine.
In its Concluding Comments, the Committee noted with regret the “lack of information in relation to […] vulnerable groups of women, in particular Romani women, who may be subjected to multiple forms of discrimination.” It invited the Ukrainian government to “provide comprehensive information and statistical data, in its next periodic report, on the situation of migrant and refugee women and of other vulnerable groups of women, in particular Roma women, who may be subjected to multiple forms of discrimination […] and on the measures taken for eliminating discrimination against these women with regard to their access to health, education, employment, social benefits, etc.”
In its review session the Committee strongly emphasised the need to make use of temporary special measures to improve the situation of Romani women. The Committee recommends that the Ukrainian government “adopt and implement temporary special measures, including quotas, as part of a comprehensive strategy aimed at the achievement of substantive gender equality in areas where women are underrepresented or disadvantaged, as well as for women suffering from multiple forms of discrimination, such as Roma women.”
The Committee also urged the Ukrainian government to “intensify its efforts to overcome persistent stereotypes that are discriminatory against women” with particular reference to Romani women, and to remove obstacles encountered by women to access shelters and social centres for victims of domestic violence, and to “immediate means of redress and protection, without limitation of age or of another kind.”
The full text of the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments on Ukraine is available HERE.
In their report, based on first hand research throughout the country conducted in cooperation with local Romani women, the ERRC and Chiricli highlighted that there is no comprehensive anti-discrimination law in Ukraine via which Romani women can seek to defend their rights and challenge abuses when these occur. This is especially worrying in light of the fact that Romani women in Ukraine are at times subject to multiple and/or intersectional discrimination. The report revealed that 43% of the Romani women interviewed are victims of domestic violence and a very low percentage (only 2.5%) of Romani women interviewed access higher education due to patriarchal traditions, poverty, ethnic segregation or harassment by non-Roma classmates. As a result of this lack of education and direct or indirect discrimination on the job market, many Romani women lack access to formal employment and are forced to accept work in the grey economy, excluding them from state social benefits. Extreme poverty, inadequate housing and the disadvantaged position of Romani women make their health situation significantly worse then that of other female populations in Ukraine, or that of Romani men.
The ERRC and Chiricli parallel report on the situation of Romani women in Ukraine is available HERE.