Experts of Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women Commend Uzbekistan on Adoption of Citizen Act and Ask about

OHCHR

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today concluded its review of the sixth periodic report of Uzbekistan, commending

Uzbekistan on the adoption of the Citizen Act, while still noting concerns, and asking about non-governmental organizations and women in Uzbekistan living with HIV/AIDS.

A Committee Expert commended the adoption of the Citizenship Act and congratulated Uzbekistan on the fact that nearly 5,000 stateless persons had been recognised as citizens of Uzbekistan.  However, the Expert still noted some concerns with the Act, asking if there were further plans to amend it.  Another Expert asked about the framework for dialogue with non-governmental organizations and the status of activists.  How did this dialogue take place and should it be increased and simplified?  On the issue of women living with HIV/AIDS in Uzbekistan, what concrete measures were in place to eliminate stigma and discrimination against this vulnerable group?  The Committee also asked if measures such as school-based education and female-friendly counselling services were being addressed in that area.

Responding to questions around the involvement of non-governmental organizations, the delegation said that Uzbekistan worked closely with more than 20 non-governmental organizations, including those who had helped with drafting the current report being reviewed by the Committee.  No dialogue existed without the participation of civil society institutions and the work of all Committees and Commissions in parliament included participation from civil society.  Non-governmental organizations had also been invited to take part in the presentation of the report, to provide their comments.  The delegation spoke about eradicating the stigmatisation of women with AIDS, saying that all pregnant women with AIDS received medical assistance funded by the State.  Previously, women with AIDS were assigned to special clinics, now they could attend regular hospitals and receive full medical assistance funded by the State, which further decreased stigmatisation.

The delegation of Uzbekistan was led by Akmal Saidov, Director of the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan and Head of Delegation, who said that achieving gender quality and ensuring the rights and freedoms of women was one of the priority areas of the new Uzbekistan.  A strategy for achieving gender equality in Uzbekistan until 2030 had been approved.  This aimed to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women and men in electoral rights, public service, education, science, sports and health care, in the socio-economic sphere, in the prevention of harassment and violence, in family relationships and in parenting.  Uzbekistan was proud of the measures taken to address the impact of the pandemic on the prevention of gender-based violence and the protection of women, children and youth. 

The delegation of Uzbekistan was comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education; the Ministry for Support of Mahalla and Family; the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Supreme Court; the Committee on Women and Gender Equality of the Senate of the Oily Majlis; the Committee on Health Protection; and the Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Saidov thanked the Chair and the Committee and conveyed sincere gratitude for the open dialogue, saying there was mutual understanding between the two parties.  He reiterated the need for further open dialogue following the Committee’s recommendations on the report, stating that the public and civil society organizations would be informed of the results as the next step.

Elgun Safarov, Vice-Chair of the Committee, thanked Uzbekistan for the constructive dialogue, saying that it had achieved great progress and that the changes to work and legislation should be continued.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-first session is being held from 7 to 25 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 3 p.m. this afternoon to conclude its review of the ninth periodic report of Peru (CEDAW/C/PER/9).

Report

The Committee has before it the sixth periodic report of Uzbekistan (CEDAW/C/UZB/6).

Presentation of Report

AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan and Head of Delegation, said that achieving gender equality and ensuring the rights and freedoms of women was one of the priority areas of the new Uzbekistan.  Women now made up 32 per cent of the deputies of the Legislative Chamber and 25 per cent of the members of the Senate.  Uzbekistan had developed several targets aimed at ensuring gender equality and empowering women and girls.  In accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, gender-oriented laws had been adopted.  An equal marriage age for women and men had been established, and restrictions related to women’s choices of previously prohibited forms of labour activity and other gender-asymmetric provisions of labour legislation had been lifted.  Mandatory gender legal expertise of legislative acts had been introduced, aimed at eliminating inconsistency.  A strategy for achieving gender equality in Uzbekistan until 2030 had been approved.  This aimed to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women and men in electoral rights, public service, education, science, sports and health care, in the socio-economic sphere, in the prevention of harassment and violence, and in family relationships and parenting.  Mr. Saidov said that Uzbekistan was implementing consistent measures aimed at strengthening national mechanisms for the advancement of women.  Some of these included the creation of a Commission on Ensuring Gender Equality; a Committee on Women and Gender Equality; and a Republican Council of Women. 

Mr. Saidov said that Uzbekistan was proud of the measures taken to address the impact of the pandemic on the prevention of gender-based violence and the protection of women, children and youth.  The Government of Uzbekistan had carried out work to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on climate change, suppress the use of hate speech, and provide assistance to migrants.  The Government had adopted several socio-economic measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  These included: a nationwide quarantine system; the establishment of specialised medical institutions in all regions of the republic; extensive explanatory work through social media to prevent the spread of the disease; the continuity of education remotely online and uninterrupted provision of food, medicines, and vital goods to the population.  Measures had been taken to return citizens to Uzbekistan who were aboard and humanitarian cooperation had been carried out.  The National Vaccine Repository was seen as an important step towards a robust immunisation system in the country and more than 4,000 doctors and 11,000 nurses were trained, with a choice of several vaccines provided. 

GULNORA MARUFOVA, First Deputy Minister for Support of Mahalla and Family, spoke about the Ministry for the Support of the Mahalla and the Family and its territorial divisions in the regions, created in 2020, whereby one of the priority areas was the comprehensive support of women.  Advisors to Khokims on women and family issues were appointed in regions, districts and cities.  For 9,255 mahallas, the position of deputy chairman of the mahalla for family, women and social issues had been introduced.  A State trust fund had been set up to support women, designed to provide all possible support to women, to promote their participation in the organization of family and private entrepreneurship, handicrafts, and their acquisition of knowledge and skills in professions in demand on the labour market.  Groups of vulnerable women were identified, and assistance was provided. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert said that Uzbekistan had implemented extensive policy reform since 2016 which had had positive impacts on many aspects of society, however, their impact on women was difficult to assess.  The Committee Expert said that the review of Uzbekistan’s report would highlight the challenges in making the reforms real and wished the delegation a constructive exchange.

Another Committee Expert said that Uzbekistan’s commitment to the Convention was appreciated and that there should be evidence of the application of the laws which Uzbekistan had put in place.  The Expert asked about the status of the Convention and its visibility, and for an explanation of the procedures of the Supreme Court.  How were the Convention’s provisions considered by courts and had they been invoked?  The Committee Expert commended the Government’s effort within Uzbekistan’s Parliament, asking what mechanisms would be established to provide new legislative momentum towards equality.  The Committee Expert asked about civil society.  What was the status of women activists and how would their participation be boosted?  Was the current definition regarding direct and indirect discrimination adequate?  The definition needed to be more all-encompassing and cover more minority groups, such as those with disabilities.

Responses by the Delegation 

The delegation responded to the question concerning the implementation of international treaties, stating that since Uzbekistan became independent, more than 40 treaties had been ratified.  Regarding international law, the delegation said that when courts issued rulings, there were direct and indirect enforcements of these rights.  International law took precedence over national legislation if enacted. 

The delegation said that the strategy on gender equality aimed to bring equality to men and women in all areas of decision making.  Priority areas of the strategy included equal rights and opportunities for women in the socio-economic sphere, in the prevention of violence and within the family, and these were shaped by the Sustainable Development Goals.

The delegation of Uzbekistan responded on the rights of refugees, saying that stateless people were provided rights and freedom in accordance with international laws.  Uzbekistan had provided residency permits for over 37,000 foreign citizens. It was noted that the legislation did not have any direct laws pertaining to women, under the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan and Head of Delegation, responded to the question of discrimination, saying that direct and indirect discrimination based on gender had been defined, and established in accordance with the Convention.  This law prohibited all forms of discrimination, including gender-based discrimination. 

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