Experts of Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women Note Senegal’s Gender Parity Law and Ask about Measures

OHCHR

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today reviewed the eighth periodic report of Senegal, with its Experts noting Senegal’s Gender Parity Law and asking about measures to tackle female genital mutilation and illiteracy.

A Committee Expert noted Senegal’s progress made in improving the number of women in politics.  The 2010 Gender Parity Law had seen Senegal rise to seventh in the world for women’s representation in Parliament, leading the way for equality, specifically in West Africa.  Despite this, there was a lack of women in politics at provincial and local levels and an underrepresentation of women working more broadly in the public sector.  On the strategy to combat female genital mutilation, a Committee Expert asked what short-term measures were being put into place to tackle this harmful practice, including in relation to religious leaders and the media.  Would men be involved in the awareness-raising exercise and how would this be done?  The prevalence of illiteracy in Senegal, particularly among elderly women, was a concern, while the percentage of literacy was still low in urban and rural areas.  How were literacy programmes progressing with respect to both elderly women and adult women and in general. 

Responding to questions around female genital mutilation, the delegation said a law had been developed in 1989 which sanctioned the practice and those who practiced it.  Senegal had been implementing a strategy which was nationally evaluated and activity in this area was ongoing.  Strategies in the communities focused on the grandmothers who were often behind these practices.  The Government had also introduced a system of girl leaders committed to combatting the process with their mothers and grandmothers, which the delegation said showed real progress and put Senegal in a better position to fully implement the strategy.  As for illiteracy, it was a major challenge for Senegal as a high percentage of the population was illiterate, including many women.  A literacy and national language unit had implemented a programme for young people and adults which aimed to establish between 6 to 11 literacy centres for more than 10,000 women, in order to combat this.  Tablets were also being provided to women to allow for easier access to literacy programmes. 

The delegation of Senegal was led by Ndeye Saly Diop Dieng, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, who said that Senegal was resolved to build a State committed to democracy, justice, freedom and respect for human rights, which included a political will and commitment to improving the lives and futures of women and girls.  Senegal had adopted a national strategy for women’s economic empowerment aligned with the orientations of the Emerging Senegal Plan.  Within the education sector, the Government had taken special measures to strengthen the presence of girls in science and technology, through grants, scholarship programmes and competitions in scientific, technical and mathematical fields.  In the area of civil and political rights, Senegal aimed to promote the access of women to decision-making bodies through their appointment to key posts.

The delegation of Senegal was comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Labour, Social Dialogue and Relations with Institutions; the Ministry of the Interior; the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development; the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment; the Ministry of Health and Social Action; the Ministry of National Education; and from the Permanent Mission of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

In concluding remarks, Ms. Diop Dieng said that Senegal attached great importance to the mandate of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, adding that the meeting had seen a fruitful exchange on the rights of women. 

Gladys Acosta Vargas, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked Senegal for the constructive dialogue that had helped the Committee better understand the situation of women in Senegal. 

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-first session is being held from 7 to 18 February.  All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage .  Meeting summary releases can be found here .  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at  https://webtv.un.org/ .

The Committee will next meet in public at 11 a.m.  on Friday, 11 February to begin its consideration of the combined eighth and ninth periodic report of Uganda (CEDAW/UGA-Q-8-9)

Report

The Committee has before it the eighth periodic report of Senegal (CEDAW/C/SEN/8).

Presentation of Report

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, said Senegal was resolved to build a State committed to democracy, justice, freedom and respect for human rights, which included a political will and commitment to improving the lives and futures of women and girls.  The Emerging Senegal Plan was based on the respect of the needs of women through transversal and sectoral actions.  The transversal actions included programmes which aimed to strengthen social protection, improve access to social services, and promote quality transformation in social relations in rural and urban areas.  These included: the Emergency Community Development Programme, which aimed to contribute to improving rural populations’ access to basic social services; the Emergency Programme for the Modernisation of Border Axes and Territories, which aimed to support the opening up and development of border areas; the City Modernisation Programme aimed at improving the urban roadway; the National Family Security Scholarship Programme to contribute to the fight against the vulnerability of families through cash transfers; the Universal Health Coverage, a system of health risk coverage linking free health initiatives for vulnerable groups and the promotion of community health projects subsidised by the State; and the Rapid Entrepreneurship of Women and Youth project, aimed at expanding access to financing for women’s income-generating activities and projects under relaxed conditions.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Head of State had responded with a response plan for vulnerable families, women and girls.  This had resulted in food support for one million poor households; support for vulnerable women and young people, including women affected by obstetric fistula or chronic diseases; the subsidy of women entrepreneurs impacted by COVID; the security of children sheltered in reception and accommodation centres; and the distribution of protective equipment, including masks.  These programmes aimed to allow better access to education and health for women and girls.

Achievements in the area of social rights related to the education and training of women and girls and the health and protection of vulnerable groups.  This included the adoption of a Global Strategic Plan for Health, particularly sexual and reproductive health, maternal and neo-natal health, and free cancer treatment for women’s cancers since 2019.  With regard to the education sector, the Government had taken special measures to strengthen the presence of girls in science and technology, including through grants, scholarship programmes and competitions in scientific, technical and mathematical fields.  On economic rights, Senegal had adopted a national strategy for women’s economic empowerment aligned with the orientations of the Emerging Senegal Plan, with the goal of creating sustainable and growth-generating entrepreneurship through the promotion of equitable and value-creating wage labour.  This programme aimed to unlock women’s potential for participation in the country’s economy and enable women and girls who were mainly confined to income-generating activities to rise to the level of mid-sized enterprises to contribute more significantly to the creation of wealth and jobs.  Senegal also aimed to introduce easier conditions for loans for women, reducing credit rates by 5 per cent.  A programme had been launched in 2021 for micro-financing, aiming to assist women in rural areas.

In the area of civil and political rights, Senegal supported the continued implementation of the law on parity in fully or partially elective institutions through capacity-building programmes for women in politics, from 2019 to 2021, and aimed to promote the access of women to decision-making bodies through the appointment of key posts.  A law was also adopted in 2020 criminalising rape and paedophilia.  The Senegalese Government had adopted a bill on the protection of the Labour Code relating to women during pregnancy.  Further progress related to the appointment of a woman commander in peacekeeping operators in 2021, with 38 high ranking officials from armed forces receiving gender training and diversity.

Ms. Diop Dieng said this was an opportunity to visit the challenges which lay ahead, despite the progress which had been made and the outlook for more progress already identified, with measures in place to accelerate the progress.  She concluded by saying that meeting with the Committee was important and it was Senegal’s ambition to engage with the Experts in a comprehensive and enriching dialogue. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert noted that the history of Senegal had been marked by many areas of progress towards equality which were often taken as examples.  She highlighted positive major legislative progress in terms of labour, violence and gender parity.  A prime challenge involved the existence of discrimination.  What initiatives was Senegal planning to implement the Committee’s recommendations and how would these be coordinated?  The Committee recommended vigilance on a text defining discrimination in order to target all forms of discrimination which could have an impact on women’s rights, particularly for minority groups.  Did the reforms that Senegal was working on comply with a participatory approach? What role would civil society play in this planning?  The Committee Expert also queried about justice houses in Senegal.  The topic of justice was visited – there were few references to the Convention in criminal and civil courts -how could its visibility be enhanced?  The Committee concluded by asking Senegal for clarification on the youth policies in the country. 

Responses by the Delegation

Concerning legislation, the delegation said that the work of the first committee began in 2016 and this would be revisited and reviewed with the legislative text and regulations concerning discrimination against women.  Civil society had participated in the drawing up of the report with the process encompassing all stakeholders. 

The delegation said that Governmental authorities were involved in issues of discrimination and parliamentarians carried out the universal coordination of dialogue, workshops and the formulation of texts and training programmes.  Addressing the topic of justice houses, these were mechanisms for monitoring and support that existed in Senegal, particularly in the southern area.  These centres were seen as supplementary to legal offices and were given financial support from the State.

Work was being carried out in grassroots communities, with a programme aimed at establishing training centres or “Women’s self-reliance centres”, offering women and girls packages and services relating to all issues of women’s rights, with the aim to ensure these centres existed in each area so that women could have the support they needed.  A centre would also be established to care for victims of gender-based violence.   An ambitious programme was in place to deal with youth employment, including programmes to offer young people long-lasting jobs, with many agencies supporting these projects.  These included efforts to boost entrepreneurship which allowed young people and women to receive funding with financial support to assist with economic empowerment.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert noted the plethora of mechanisms which existed in the areas promoting women’s rights, including a gender equality mechanism.  How was

coordination carried out between these mechanisms?  What were the financial resources allocated to women’s mechanisms?  How could duplication be avoided?  The Committee Expert noted a dilemma, saying on one hand, programmes had been made, however there were still problems.  Where in the framework did Senegal see the mechanism for the rights of women?  How was international aid and assistance distributed?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said Senegal was constantly steadfast in ensuring equality as a base for the country.  The fact that there were so many mechanisms attested to Senegal’s political will.  The delegation underscored that the Government and Parliament interacted when it came to public policies.  The Observatory had a mandate of raising the alarm on problems, enforcing gender policies and ensuring that they were being put into practice.  Each mechanism according to their sectoral mandate had a budgetary allocation and within the Ministry of Women there was budgeting which contributed to the success of the gender policy – and budget lines for all gender units. 

As part of the implementation of the national policy for the promotion of women, together with the gender equality units, the sectoral policies implemented the policy to combat gender-based violence with coordination provided and occurring at the highest levels of the State.  Women were part of all development programmes. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert raised the issue of the ineffective application of the Parity Act in elective and semi-elective bodies, saying that while this law had significantly corrected the imbalances in the representation of women in national and local decision-making bodies, despite this breakthrough, women’s presence remained problematic in elected councils and in management positions.  What kind of temporary special measures and positive discrimination national legislation acts and policy measures been adopted for ensuring de-facto and de-jure equality, especially in employment and prevention of a pay gap? What were the results of special temporary measures concerning women entrepreneurship?

A Committee Expert asked what was being done to facilitate the ability of women to report incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination at work.  The Labour Code restricted women’s access to employment – were there plans to revise this?  Could details be provided on the strategy to combat female genital mutilation?  There had been an evident worsening of girls not going to school during the COVID pandemic, and many women had undergone female genital mutilation during this period.  What short-term measures were being put into place to tackle these harmful practices – including for religious leaders and the media?  Would men be involved in the awareness-raising exercise and how would this be done?  On legislative power – how would women be involved?  Could an information system between national and local authorities be implemented with budgets increased?  Women must be protected from violence – would a law be adopted to prohibit all forms of violence against women and girls, with judicial procedures to keep perpetrators from their victims?  Would the law against excision be revised? 

One Committee Expert noted that prostitution in Senegal was legal and regulated with sex workers needing to register, which helped police identify trafficking or underage victims.  However, only a low percentage of sex workers were registered.  In view of this, how did police identify trafficking victims among sex workers?  How did the Government deal with sexual harassment complaints from sex workers?  The Committee Expert said that forced begging was the primary mode of trafficking in Senegal and asked what was the status of the law to criminalise forced begging? Why did the Government not prosecute those who were behind forced begging? What was the Government doing to protect these children?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that Senegal had a law since 1989 which sanctioned female genital mutilation and those who practiced it.  Senegal had been implementing a strategy which was nationally evaluated.  Nine cases of female genital mutilation had been brought forward between 2020 and 2021, and the persons involved had been sanctioned.  Government activities to fight female genital mutilation were ongoing and work was being carried out on awareness-raising and support to ensure prevention.  A technical evaluation of the Government strategy on female genital mutilation was ongoing.  Strategies in the communities focused on the grandmothers who were often behind these practices.  The Government had also introduced a system of girl leaders committed to combatting the process with their mothers and grandmothers, which the delegation said showed real progress and put Senegal in a better position to fully implement the strategy. 

The delegation responded to the question on how police dealt with sexual harassment complaints from sex workers, saying that sex workers were citizens who had the right to exercise their profession, subject to certain conditions such as age and joining the health register.  If a complaint was lodged by a sex worker, this was investigated and the complainant was heard, with the alleged perpetrator questioned and then judged. 

On trafficking, the delegation said there was a dedicated unit in Senegal within the Ministry of Justice to combat trafficking, which conducted awareness raising and training campaigns.  An information system existed but there were concerns regarding its operations.  Civil society and Parliament had been working with the Anti-Trafficking Unit to obtain information from the courts related to trafficking offences.

On the question of forced begging, the delegation said that Senegal had a national strategy for the protection of children, including those in danger and those who were victims.  For street children and those begging specifically, these vulnerable children were taken care of by State services at lower levels and governmental levels.  All Government levels were involved as well as civil society and actors from religious circles.  Work had been done to bring 5,500 children off the street and send them back to their families inside Senegal or to their sub-regional communities.  A long-term national programme was being developed to take children off the street and reintegrate them with socio-economic support. 

The delegation said that traditional stereotypes and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child marriage, were considered as barriers to the fulfilment of women and the wellbeing of children in Senegal and this discrimination would be addressed through education on human rights and principles.  The strategy for female genital mutilation was a programme involving all institutions and regions and departments and involved education on this practice. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked about police sexual harassment complaints which were being investigated, noting that sex workers depended on the police and these complaints would be difficult – how many of these cases had actually been prosecuted and convicted?  The Committee Expert noted the dedicated units to combat trafficking and asked what was being done to improve the data system. 

A Committee Expert asked if Senegal intended to adopt a comprehensive law against all gender-based violence against women, including harmful practices, of a criminal and civil nature.

Response by the Delegation

On the question of violence, the delegation said a law that criminalised rape and paedophilia was in effect in Senegal and it was a pillar in combatting gender-based violence.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert asked about the right of women to engage in public and political life, noting the progress Senegal had made in improving the number of women in politics.  The 2010 Gender Parity Law had seen Senegal rise to seventh in the world for women’s representation in parliament, leading the way for equality, specifically in West Africa.  Despite this, there was a lack of women in politics at provincial and local levels and an underrepresentation of women working more broadly in the public sector.  Could updated statistics be provided reflecting women’s participation in politics at local and federal levels?  Were there special measures envisioned to increase the number of female ministers in Senegal?  Were there measures planned to assess the success of the Gender Parity Law and did this law encourage the diversity of women representatives and was its effect reflected in politics?  Could updated statistics on women working in the public sector be provided?  Had the training implemented been effective?  What was being done to increase the number of ambassadorial posts occupied by women?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said there had been much progress regarding women appointed to the diplomatic and consular corps in Senegal.  This process was ongoing, with three ambassadors currently being considered.

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, said that while the number of women in the Senegalese Government was not yet high enough, progress had been made in this area with many posts now occupied by women which were previously occupied by men. 

Regarding the effectiveness of the Gender Parity Law, the delegation said that women made up 43.3 percent of the Senegalese Parliament.  There was parity in institutions even if the percentage of women was low, with dialogue and an innovative approach required to reach parity.  A national parity observatory published reports and showcased the decree to which the Gender Parity Law was developing.  Women had been appointed to responsible posts in all sectors, and there was a gradual trend towards the promotion of women in Senegal. 

The delegation said there were currently 13 female ambassadors in Senegal.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs was a woman and women held at least 8 high-level posts in the Government. 

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, pointed out that it was an automatic disqualification if a candidacy list was not parity based, stating that a lot of progress had been made in this area. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Member congratulated the State party for their steps forward on education but noted issues of concern, namely illiteracy, which was still prevalent in Senegal, particularly among elderly women.  The percentage of literacy was still low in urban and rural areas.  How were literacy programmes progressing in respect to elderly and adult women and in general?  What was currently being done in Senegal to avoid school dropout by girls and adolescents?  What was being done about girls who needed to leave school due to pregnancy?  The Committee Expert congratulated Senegal on promoting positive masculinity, asking for results on this programme.  What was being done to reduce the digital divide within the country?  Were specific programmes in place to promote young women in leadership roles?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that a literacy and national language unit had implemented a programme for young people and adults which aimed to establish 6 to 11 literacy centres for more than 10,000 women.  Tablets were being provided to women to allow for easier access to literacy programmes.  The suspension of schooling for pregnant girls for health reasons was authorised, with them able to resume their schooling once they had given birth.  A system had been put in place to obtain the details on who had dropped out of school, with the ability for them to resume their schooling by distance learning.  Targeted actions which had achieved tangible results included the provisions of scholarships for low-income families and a network of women teachers to ensure girls stayed in school.

On measures taken to deal with school dropout rates, the delegation said that women and girls represented more than half of those involved in vocational training.  However, there was disparity as these girls were concentrated in traditional roles such as hairdressing and catering – the delegation expressed the wish to see more girls participating in technical areas.  Financial support was being provided to young mothers who had dropped their vocational training.  The Government mandated that 30 per cent of the basic training should be focused on technical and professional training, with campaigns developed highlighting the importance of these fields.

On the topic of positive masculinity, the delegation said this had been implemented since 2012 and involved the establishment of “Schools for Husbands” which taught men the importance of the use of contraception, prenatal and anti-natal checks and assisted birth.  All of these practices had dramatically increased in the two districts where the “Schools for Husbands” were present.  In 2021, Senegal had put in place a national strategy to bring together all stakeholders in the area.  Specific criteria were in place for the husbands and fathers who attended these centres, with the hope to extend the strategy to other members in the community.  Based on these results, the Senegalese Government had rolled out a “Schools for Husbands” programme within five additional regions in the south of the country.

On the issue of gender-based violence, recent actions included developing a plan of action to combat gender-based violence, which was being implemented.  A multi-sectoral system to tackle the issue of gender-based violence in the community was also being considered.  Many awareness activities were being conducted at the grass-roots level.

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, said illiteracy was a major challenge for Senegal with a high percentage of the population illiterate, including many women.  A programme for literacy and apprentices to trade were being rolled out throughout the country.  Some 300 men were participating in the “Schools for Husbands” programme, with these men working to support these policies throughout their communities at a grassroots level, to improve the lives of women.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert noted that progress had been made in the area of health in Senegal, particularly in contraceptive health and women living with HIV/AIDS.  However, maternal mortality was still high and there was still a prevalence of harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and issues with family planning.  Did the Government plan to set up programmes to address these issues and the issue of nutrition?  Noting that abortion was criminalised in Senegal, the Committee Expert asked what solutions were in place concerning abortion in the case of incest, rape or malformation of the foetus.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said many strategies had been adopted to improve access to healthcare services, with a lot of progress being achieved in the area of improving the quality of health.  A downward trend of maternal mortality had been observed.  Roving stations which moved around provided health services, with midwives providing free family planning in remote areas.  Senegal had undertaken commitments in 2020 to improve access to family planning with legal frameworks in this area being improved.  Actions had been taken to allow females and girls access to these family planning services.

The delegation highlighted the measures taken to support women and young girls in reproductive health.  A covenant had been established under the Zero Child Marriage slogan, where girls committed themselves to their studies and to not get pregnant too early, with their parents committing to not allowing these girls to enter an early marriage.  This had resulted in an improvement in the number of girls in schools.

Senegal wanted the maternal mortality rate to continue to decrease.  In respect to abortion, Senegal forbade abortion with exceptions only if the health of the mother or the foetus was at risk.

Question by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert reiterated a question on malnutrition and the high level of anaemia and asked what care was given to women and older women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responses by the Delegation

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, said a programme was being established for children from 0 to 5 years of age with the World Bank, focusing on the malnutrition of children, which was one of the main focus areas in Senegal.

Regarding COVID-19, the delegation said that actions which had been undertaken concerning women’s health included a guide for reproductive health in the COVID-19 context.  Teams had been trained to give support to obstetrical services with the availability and quality of the care provided constantly being improved.  The delegation said events had been held to deal with the reproductive health of women and girls.  Concerning infrastructure standards, isolation facilities had been arranged to deal with complicated deliveries.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert said that few women had access to land ownership, asking how the State party planned to accelerate the empowerment of women when it came to the possibility of becoming landowners and managing land.  How was new technology being utilised in the informal sector to bring women into economic activities?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that access to land was a right which was outlined in the Constitution.  Women now had more access to land in the municipal bodies, seen among farmworkers in the north.  Specific measures had been taken at the regional level to promote women’s access to land, including an agricultural development programme and gender units at agricultural facilities in the regional level.  The progress to accelerate agricultural work had mainstreamed gender issues.  Regarding the informal sector, a national strategy was being developed which involved women producing goods and services.  A project was also underway to support women to transition into the formal sector.

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, said that the Government of Senegal had a national social protection strategy which had simplified reporting for low-income taxpayers.  The Ministry for Employment was rolling out activities for a single social security code, with the aim to establish social protection for self-employed workers including migrant workers.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert expressed admiration for the steps forward towards gender equality, calling Senegal an inspiration for many other countries and asking how the State party intended to facilitate women’s access to and control of productive resources for climate change-resilient agriculture.  On the topic of rural women and women in vulnerable situations, how would Senegal improve the productivity of women farmers in small holdings?  Could information be provided about measures planned to encourage women’s participation in initiatives such as renewable energies and drinking water?  To what extent were the needs of women in prisons kept in mind?  How were visits organised and what measures were in place for women in prison who were pregnant, breastfeeding or with their children? What measures would be taken to ensure that a woman was given the right to be heard by a judge after detainment?  

The Committee Expert noted that the situation of women with disabilities was a real concern, stemming from the incorrect belief that HIV could be cured by having sex with a virgin girl, and girls with disabilities were often the victim of this – what was being done to correct this belief?  What was happening to make sure these cases were prosecuted?  Concerning albinism, women in Senegal with albinism suffered violations and sexual abuse as a result of wrongful beliefs – what was being done to protect these women and girls?  The Expert was concerned about hate speech towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.  How was the State party protecting this community?  Would a strategy be put in place to ensure these acts of discrimination were stopped once and for all?

Responses by the Delegation

Responding to questions about rural women, the delegation said Senegal understood that social inequality could be discriminatory for rural women.  Senegal had tried to combat this in areas regarding access to land as well as other programmes around the public road networks and border regions which had been implemented.  On women in prison, the delegation said that Senegal had been working to establish prisons for women only to lessen the risk of violence in these facilities.  Studies conducted in the areas of health and nutrition and family visits in prisons had had satisfactory results.  Pregnant women were able to access facilities where the healthcare would be provided.  Regarding women with albinism, a campaign had been conducted to protect people with albinism from the sun, with protection creams distributed.  This part of the population had been particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic and had received special protection.

Regarding the issue of rape of persons with disabilities and persons with albinism, strategies through communication and awareness raising had been put in place.  Advertisement programmes had been developed to educate the population and inform potential perpetrators that these people needed protection.

Women detainees were still women who enjoyed their rights, said the delegation, with pregnant women kept in separate quarters two months prior to and after giving birth.  Health care and food was provided to women in prison at no additional cost.  Women could be in prison with their children and special measures were taken to protect their rights, with children being able to stay with the mother until the age of three.  The delegation said that women had access to anti-natal care in prison prior to giving birth.  Women in detention were given training sessions in different areas such as textiles, sewing and various agricultural tasks.  Training sessions were undertaken with the prison authorities.

On the question of women and climate change, programmes had been put in place to mitigate the effects of climate change.  Adaptation was also key, with Senegal working on crops which were particularly resilient to drought conditions.  Awareness raising activities on greenhouse gas emissions were also being conducted

On the question of discrimination against lesbians, the delegation reminded the Committee that all women in Senegal had equal access to education, health, employment and protection from violence.  Senegal had no public policy targeting specific persons and this issue did not warrant a special approach.

Question by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert asked whether any cases had been prosecuted concerning rape or sexual abuse of a woman with a disability who contracted AIDS as a result of this.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation responded to the question of rape committed against a minor or person with a disability, and said that 451 cases of this had occurred.  It was not known if these victims had developed HIV/AIDS as a result.

Question by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert asked about polygamy, saying this was discriminatory in nature.  On the points of unrecorded marriages – were there ways to protect women during the transitional period before their marriages were recorded?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that in country like Senegal with Muslim beliefs, polygamy was allowed.  Senegal did not have an agenda to reform the family code.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked if Senegal would consider prohibiting levirate marriages.

Another Committee Expert said the Family Code must be a priority and urged for its reform to be a priority in the legislative reform committee.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said levirate marriages involved the marriage of the brother of the deceased man to his widow, which was a customary practice undertaken in Islam, designed to protect the widow and her family status.  This could not be classified as a forced marriage as consent was required to be given, the delegation said.  It was a customary practice.

Closing Remarks

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection and Head of the Delegation of Senegal, said that Senegal attached great importance to the mandate of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.  The meeting had seen a fruitful exchange on the rights of women and was an important review.  Senegal was aware of the important challenges awaiting it and was committed to an egalitarian society. 

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked Senegal for the constructive dialogue that had helped the Committee better understand the situation of women in Senegal.  Ms. Acosta Vargas congratulated Senegal on the progress made and urged the State party to implement all recommendations from the Committee to benefit all women and girls of the country.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/02/examen-du-rapport-du-senegal-devant-le-cedaw-la-loi-sur-la

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