Côte d'Ivoire

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considers report of Côte d’Ivoire

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The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined initial, second and third periodic report of Côte d’Ivoire on how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Introducing the report, Raymonde Coffie Goudou, Minister for Family, Women and Children, said that the fact that women had positions in the Government was testimony to the State’s commitment to promoting women's rights. The crisis in Côte d'Ivoire had aggravated levels of violence against women, and several measures had been taken to combat violence, including a unit for victims, health centres throughout the country and a determination to prosecute perpetrators of violence against women. Women’s quality of life needed to be improved and Côte d’Ivoire needed to combat issues including extreme poverty, illiteracy, gender based violence, female genital mutilation, stereotypes, HIV/AIDS and child labour. The new Government wanted to adopt new, innovative and sustainable policies to install and uphold the rights of women, and had demonstrated political will by taking steps including ratification of the Optional Protocol of the CEDAW Convention.

Questions and issues raised by Experts during the discussion included violence against women and rape and post-conflict justice for victims, and socio-cultural traditions in the patriarchal society that led to sexist stereotypes and gender-led violence such as female genital mutilation. The delegation was asked about measures taken to combat trafficking of women and girls, provisions to help women’s small businesses and land-owning rights, and also the nationality law for women. Experts also asked questions on planned political quotas for women, healthcare improvements, tackling HIV AIDS and the very high maternal mortality rate, the high illegal abortion rate, and also education provisions for girls.

In concluding remarks Ms. Goudou said that they were looking forward to continued support from the Committee and reaffirmed the commitment of the Ivoirian people to continue to work to overcome that tragic part of their history and to completely eliminate all discrimination and move towards the rebirth of Côte d’Ivoire.

In preliminary concluding remarks, Silvia Pimentel, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation for their insight into the situation of women’s rights in Côte d’Ivoire, commended them for their efforts and encouraged the State party to take all necessary measures to address all of the recommendations of the Committee for the benefit of all women and girls in Côte d’Ivoire.

The delegation of Côte d’Ivoire consisted of the Minister of Family, Women and Children, and representatives from the Department of Gender Equality and Promotion, the Ministry of Family, Women and Children, the Women of Côte d’Ivoire non-governmental organization, and the Permanent Mission of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be on Friday, 21 November when it will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the country reports which it has reviewed this session and close the session.

Report

The combined initial, second and third periodic reports of Côte d’Ivoire (CEDAW/C/CIV/1-3) says that despite the difficult social and political context, marked by the military and political crisis that broke out on 19 September 2002 and led to the partition of the country, Côte d'Ivoire has consistently expressed its concern for the situation of women, who along with children was the group most affected by the crisis. The Government has set a number of priorities to strengthen the realization of women's rights. These priorities are part of general measures to incorporate the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, ratified in 1995, which concern civil rights and freedoms, the family environment and social protection, health, well-being, leisure and recreational activities and special protection measures. The report outlines the principal measures taken by Côte d'Ivoire during the period 1996 to 2008 to implement the Convention.

The 2000 Constitution of Côte d'Ivoire stated that there was equality between all Ivorian nationals in aspects of political rights, access to health, education, information, training and employment, and that any discrimination on the grounds of gender was prohibited. The National Action Plan for Women, drawn up in 2002, promoted and integrated women in all areas, but especially health, education, economic advancement and stereotypes. Measures had been taken to combat the sexist stereotyping of women in society, particularly revising school textbooks, and broadcasting TV, commercials and radio programmes that promote a more dignified image of women.

From a legal and regulatory viewpoint Ivorian women have equality with men in access to employment, salaries and benefits. However there was discrimination against women as regards income tax, equal pay and pregnancy and marital status. National programmes to reduce the spread of malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer in women are in place, as was maternal care although the rate of maternal and infant mortality were still very high. Abortion was illegal except for under medical supervision when a mother’s life was in danger, although illegal abortions were still carried out. Female genital mutilation was still prevalent with a rate of 45 per cent. A law prohibits female genital mutilation and early and forced marriages, although it is rarely enforced.

Presentation of the Report

RAYMONDE COFFIE GOUDOU, Minister for Family, Women and Children, said that she was pleased to share what had been done despite the crisis Côte d'Ivoire was suffering, and thanked the United Nations in general for their efforts in post-crisis reconstruction in the State. Ms. Goudou said the fact that women had positions in the Government was testimony to both the State and the President’s commitment to the promotion and protection of women's rights. The population of Côte d'Ivoire was 20.8 million, and 49 per cent were women. Côte d'Ivoire was once a model of stability and prosperity in Africa but over the last decade it had suffered a civil war and armed rebellion which divided the country. Several peace agreements were signed so that free and democratic Presidential elections could be held in November 2010. Unfortunately Côte d'Ivoire underwent a post-election crisis which was devastating, with serious loss of human life, violence and widespread destruction. Today the country was stabilized and the parties were working on a national reconciliation process.

Precious financial and technical help from United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations had been immensely beneficial to Côte d'Ivoire. The quality of life needed to be raised for women, the Government needed to combat poverty, illiteracy, gender based violence, female genital mutilation, stereotypes, HIV/AIDS, child labour and so on, and help was needed to do that. Although the Constitution of 2000 did not expressly mention discrimination against women it did uphold equality between men and women. The Convention took precedence over national laws. Other consequences of the crisis were women’s access to healthcare, the high numbers of women in prostitution and the movement of over one million internally displaced persons and refugees, most of them women and children.

The Coalition of Women of Côte d'Ivoire lobbied for women members of parliament and to combat stereotypes, especially via media campaigns and reforming school textbooks to remove sexist and cultural stereotypes of boys going to school and girls staying at home. The situation in Côte d'Ivoire had aggravated the levels of violence against women, so the Government had taken several measures to combat that violence, including a special unit for victims, health centres throughout the country and a determination to prosecute perpetrators of violence against women. Girls’ rates of school attendance had increased following a promotion and installation of school canteens. Illiteracy rates had been reduced. There were programmes to improve healthcare for women, on issues including family planning, rural women, nutritional levels, and HIV/AIDS. Free provision of retroviral drugs and special support for pregnant women had contributed to the reduction of maternal mortality.

Women in Côte d'Ivoire were very tired of the crisis and had joined forces to demand that their interests be taken into account. After the 2010 election women took to the streets, were fired upon, and seven women were killed as a result during those demonstrations. The postponed funeral of those women would be held in Abidjan today, and those women were foremost in the minds of the delegation. The new Government wanted to adopt new, innovative and sustainable policies to install and uphold the rights of women, and had been demonstrating political will to do that by taking specific steps, including ratifying the optional protocol of the CEDAW Convention.

Questions by Experts

A Committee Expert said there was no specific mention of discrimination against women in the Constitution of Côte d'Ivoire, but asked if the article referred to prohibition of discrimination based on gender, race or religion instead?

Concerning post-conflict justice, an Expert asked for clarification on the use of Security Council Resolution 1325, and did that conflict with the CEDAW Convention? Did the Government plan to adopt a national action plan on that resolution?

There were many reports that women had been victims of systematic sexual violence over the past decade, and that the judiciary was reluctant to prosecute those crimes. What concrete measures were being taken to end the targeting of women and girls, and the impunity of perpetrators of acts of violence? There could be no lasting reconciliation without justice.

Response by the Delegation

A large proportion of the population of Côte d'Ivoire was illiterate, particularly the large proportions of the population - around 53 per cent - living in rural areas. It was difficult to explain to rural women in particular what their rights were. Campaigns were not enough, particularly when men in their communities were telling them something else. The CEDAW Convention needed to be translated into four official languages of Côte d'Ivoire as a step to explain to women what their rights were. The CEDAW Convention was much loved in Côte d'Ivoire and always kept in mind when talking about the promotion of women.

The national action plan on implementing the Convention had four major areas, including female genital mutilation. The 1998 law preventing female genital mutilation stemmed directly from the Convention.

There was a programme to increase women’s participation in political programmes and increase their representation. In countries where women voted, peace and stability reigned, for example as seen in Rwanda today.

The Truth and Reconciliation Committee played a part in protecting women and men. An advisory centre had been set up by the Government, although women needed a variety of types of care. The Committee only had a two-year mandate and the deadline of two years was to ensure the Government and the Committee were proactive.

The amnesty law for perpetrators of violence was not about people involved in the Coup d’état, destabilizing the country. Generally those who had committed crimes and destabilized the country were known to the justice system and would be dealt with.

Questions from Experts

A Committee Expert asked if there was any prospect of increased funding for the Ministry of Family, Women and Children in order to accelerate implementation of policies? Furthermore what were the priority policies to be implemented?

The Minister for Human Rights had prepared a comprehensive plan on human rights in general, thus encompassing women's rights. How did the Minister of Family, Women and Children work with him? It was important for Côte d'Ivoire to have a detailed understanding of violence in the country. There was no real data to show what violence was being committed against women.

An Expert said that they had been speaking about violations of human rights in the context of the conflict and post-conflict situation in Côte d'Ivoire. However those violations took place against a background of deeply-embedded social discriminatory practices and stereotypes in a patriarchal society. Those practices were the root causes of violations against women, and helped legitimate the atrocities committed in unusual times. Violence against women could not be exclusively addressed solely through the conflict-related reasons. Some traditional and discriminatory practices included dowry, forced and early marriage, female genital mutilation and the husband’s position as the head of the family. Many of those were not criminalized and there were no sanctions. There were no laws on domestic violence, marital rape and levirate, where a widow was obliged to marry her brother-in-law. A large scale multi-media campaign was needed on national and local levels and in cooperation with religious leaders of influence to disseminate specifically women’s human rights. Could the delegation give a specific timeline as to when and how those issues would be addressed?

Rape was a crime in the penal code, in certain circumstances punishable even by life imprisonment. However it was not defined which made it difficult for victims to seek justice. Were there plans to define rape in the legal code, and also to bring about a Sexual Offences Act to bring about remedies and protection for the victim?

Response of the Delegation

The budget for the Ministry of Family, Women and Children had never been significant or sufficient, so it was lucky to have the support of development partners. They had complained to the Ministry of Finance but were told not to forget what a difficult time it was for resources. It was hoped that next year the budget would be increased. The relationship of the Ministry of Family, Women and Children with the Ministry of Human Rights was strong and they worked together frequently. Generally there had been significant steps in the cooperation of all Government agencies dealing with women's rights issues, including a workshop for all parties.

Concerning strategic plans and priorities, there were four priority areas: gender governance and human rights, gender and macro-economics, reconstructive and social services and gender capacity building. The budget was adopted but the resources were not yet available. The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations system in general were working with the Government, funding activities and hiring international consultants for helping side by side.

The judiciary was undergoing reform, to bring it closer to the people, to raise public awareness of laws, to ensure capacity building and to hold the authors of acts of violence responsible.

The Ivorian crisis led to 200,000 Ivorian refugees in neighbouring countries and 700,000 internally displaced persons. Those were just the ones that they could count, and they estimated that there were at least one million internally displaced persons. Today 2,500 Ivorian people had been voluntarily repatriated from neighbouring countries, and over half of those internally displaced persons had returned home. At least 50 per cent of the internally displaced persons were women and children, and the Government had been ensuring they could return home in safe circumstances. Most of the women were illiterate and they needed help to even understand their rights, as well as claim justice.

Ivoirians had the political will to implement the CEDAW Convention in its entirety. There was discrimination in place in the private sector, particularly concerning equal pay for equal qualifications; however, things were improving.

Côte d'Ivoire had brought together opinion and religious leaders. As a developing country in Africa they needed to ensure culture went hand in hand with modernity. It was not possible for women to sweep aside everything connected to their culture, they had to keep the good things. There was a law banning female genital mutilation. Eighteen was the legal age of marriage. Women could now make complaints of domestic violence and if their husband forced them to have intercourse, even if he was a legal husband. Measures were being taken to make people understand that those habits and practices were something from the past, but at the same time preserving aspects of culture that were good, such as a traditional marriage, in all of its splendour, prior to a legal marriage. That was an example of the cultural diversity held close to the hearts of Ivoirians. It could not be looked at from a Western perspective.

A Strategy to Combat Gender-Based Violence was being drafted when the crisis happened. The Ministry would now revise that strategy taking into account the impact of the crisis. However measures from that draft strategy had been implemented all the while, for example setting up shelters and reintegrating victims into society. There was a special unit to combat Gender-Based Violence in the Ministry of Family, Women and Children with some expert staff on board.

Rape and female genital mutilation were punishable under law since 1998. Rape was physical violence committed against a person in order to obtain pleasure. It was punished under the criminal code of Côte d'Ivoire. Rape was often used as a weapon of war in times of crisis. That was something the judiciary were keeping in mind.

Questions from Experts

Trafficked women were being used for forced labour and sexual exploitation in Côte d'Ivoire. Sex trafficking, particularly of young girls, was widespread. There were issues of impunity where traffickers were not properly addressed. All of the issues facing Côte d'Ivoire put up a considerable front to address trafficking of persons. However the report had no statistics on trafficking or details of measures being taken to combat it. There was a lack of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation. The penal code of Côte d'Ivoire was under review, particularly with a view to tackling forced prostitution of women.

Was it correct that there was no law to criminalize prostitution in Côte d'Ivoire? Furthermore what regional cooperation and bilateral agreements were in place to combat cross-border trafficking? Research was needed into the practice.

What laws were planned to prevent harmful cultural practises such as dowry, early and forced marriage, levirate and female genital mutilation? The law of 1998 against female genital mutilation was not sufficient. Under international law those were all considered violations of women's rights.

Response from the Delegation

Responding to these comments and questions, the delegation said that trafficked girls often became prostitutes. If was difficult to obtain statistics in a country of instability, and most data came from development partners working on the ground. Concerning impunity, the Expert’s information was not fully correct, as since June 2011 all questions related to justice were being considered a priority by the new Government. The rule of law was based on the protection of women and children.

A law against trafficking was being reviewed by the Government. Levels of prostitution were directly affected by the violence, and were being addressed.

Employment was a problem faced by all countries, including developed countries, but especially those coming out of a crisis.

The head of the delegation said she and the First Lady of Côte d'Ivoire were jointly working on a campaign on the issue of cross-border trafficking and the exploitation of children on plantations. Part of that work involved focusing on drug use and organized crime. There was a bilateral agreement with Mali. The First Ladies of Mali and Côte d'Ivoire were to hold a joint conference with regional experts on the phenomenon of trafficking, which was a problem across all of Africa.

Dowry was a cultural issue, not of purchasing or selling. It just showed the importance given to a woman as she married a young man. It was not a form of violence. Forced and early marriage however was a form of violence as it often involved 12 year old girls. The planned review of the criminal code would make it possible for Côte d'Ivoire to improve its image in the field of violence against women. The Government was working to make sure that took place as soon as possible, although the whole country was really just a construction site.

Women from rural areas continued the practice of female genital mutilation. It was not seen in the cities. Public awareness programmes and discussions with those who resisted the 1998 ruling were being held in rural areas. Steps needed to be taken on that practice which stopped girls ever properly becoming women.

The delegation noted that Ivoirian legislation did not have specific legislation on trafficking, but the Constitution did refer to exploitation of minors. The head of the delegation said Côte d’Ivoire was committed to speak to the non-governmental organization community to work together on a specific law on trafficking they could propose to the Government.

Questions by Experts

A Committee Expert said that although the Government had five women Ministers out of 30 Ministers that was not enough. The Expert wanted to see specific results in the form of political nominations.

It was crucial for Côte d’Ivoire to benefit from international assistance in the training of public officials, who could be future leaders. Were any international programmes already planned in that area?

An Expert noted that legislation stated that Ivoirians who had duel nationality but who behaved like a national of another country could lose their citizenship. In light of the serious problems Côte d’Ivoire faced, did this also apply to women, for example foreign women marrying an Ivoirian national?

Response from the Delegation

The head of the delegation said she had worked closely with the President on the issue of having more women representation at the Governmental level. A draft decree proposing a 30 per cent quota for women in politics had been prepared, but had lingered in various Governmental offices during the crisis. The decree had now been redrafted and it was hoped that it would be signed in the next few days. There was still some resistance. A legislative act would be needed to ensure the decree of a 30 per cent quota was ensured. Regarding the proposed quota it was intended to have one woman and one man candidate on every voting slip.

The five women in Government were doing an incredible job working on issues of health, education, sanitation, and women's rights among others. It was hoped that after the next election the number of women in Government would be increased threefold or more. A Strategic Plan was being prepared between the Government and non-governmental organizations, including a leading women’s association.

The police, military and law enforcement agencies in Côte d’Ivoire did not accept women. Military people did not like to speak about issues in public, so there had not yet been a public dialogue on the issue, although the President could see no reason why women should not be law enforcement officers.

There had been serious problems with citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire. Human rights organizations demanded that the provision on nationality be removed, as it could lead to the resurgence of many forms of identity problems. However, the delegation said the question of duel-nationality did not exist in Côte d’Ivoire, as there were many duel-nationality marriages and they believed the children from those marriages had a right to their parent’s nationality. The law was changed two or three years ago, and a spouse, whether man or woman, made a choice on taking their spouse’s nationality at the time of marriage. Today a foreign woman who wanted to take the nationality of her Ivoirian husband could do that. However a foreign man who wanted to marry an Ivoirian woman had a probation period of five to ten years.

Questions from Experts

A Committee Expert commended the delegation for attending the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women dialogue today, in spite of the immense difficulties Côte d’Ivoire was facing. However, by the delegation’s own admission the education of girls was plagued by a number of problems – some a result of the conflict, some cultural and a result of deeply-entrenched gender norms. The Expert suggested that the pre-training of teachers was very important and that mandatory courses in gender should be incorporated into their training at all levels. Traditional gender attitudes of teachers impacted the delivery of the curriculum as well as their treatment of students.

There had been a dramatic decline in the enrolment of girls as they moved up through the education system, from 53 per cent at primary level to 23 per cent at secondary level, and even lower at post-secondary levels. Drop out rates, teenage pregnancy, forced marriages, lack of financial resources, and illness were all reasons for the decline. Koranic schools did educate girls at a primary level and could make up the shortfall, although attending Koranic schools could create a barrier for girls to continue their education, and could have a cost. Were the Koranic schools creating a duel system of education? In general what specific measures had been taken, and were planned, to improve the education situation?

Response from the Delegation

The delegation said teachers needed to be re-trained, and that was something raised in the last Cabinet meeting.

Girls were often not sent to school in Côte d’Ivoire, and the President recently launched a campaign to persuade families to send their girls to school. The President recently declared that school would be free until the age of 15, and that would start at the next school year, but there were other external costs, such as that of a school uniform, which cost about €10, a heavy burden for a typical Côte d’Ivoire family. The Government wanted to remove as many of the barriers as possible to increase the numbers of girls in schools. Girls often dropped out of school because they did not have an identity card, because they had not been registered at birth. The Government was working to correct that.

There were approximately 4,000 Koranic schools in Côte d’Ivoire. The Government had been ensuring their curriculum was in line with State schools. Koranic schools provided a basic education and thousands of children attended them. The Government wanted to support and monitor those schools to ensure they could work with and modernize the schools. The founders of the Koranic schools had met with the Government, and they really were dedicated to providing an education. They had asked the State to loan them teachers to ensure their curriculum was in line with that of State schools. The results from Koranic schools were fairly satisfying: 30 per cent of students passed their exams at 15 years of age and moved on to sixth grade.

There was a programme aimed at reducing female illiteracy rates in Côte d’Ivoire, which were mostly due to poverty.

Questions from Experts

Concerning the fact that there were no woman in the police force acting as law enforcement officials, which was important in ensuring security for women, an Expert asked if there was any information on plans to allow women to work as police officers?

There were a high number of child labourers in Côte d’Ivoire, particularly in the agricultural sector. What were the penalties for companies using forced child labour, particularly the multinational corporations working in the cocoa industry?

What happened in small-scale family businesses? How many women worked in those businesses?

Regarding health care for women, the delegation was asked to elaborate on measures taken to reduce the HIV infection rate in women in particular. What had been done to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS from a gender perspective, including the use of contraceptive devices?

There was a law against female genital mutilation, but what measures had been taken to ensure the health of girls who had suffered that violation?

According to the report abortion was illegal in Côte d’Ivoire. It was authorized only under medical supervision when a doctor considered the mother’s life was in danger. However illegal abortions were still carried out, and were the leading cause of maternal mortality. In what conditions were the illegal abortions carried out?

Overall the picture of public health in Côte d’Ivoire was grim. It was fully understandable that resources were lacking at a post-conflict time, however it was important for the Committee to know what actions the Government had taken despite the crisis. Only 10 per cent of pregnant women had access to healthcare. There were high numbers of fatalities from malaria, malnutrition and HIV/AIDS. What had been done to tackle the serious health issues? Six per cent of the national budget was allocated to health – that was not sufficient. What was the Ministry of Health doing to increase that figure? It was the Government’s responsibility to provide free healthcare.

Response by the Delegation

In response to these questions and comments, the delegation said women did work in the police forces in Côte d’Ivoire. There were two separate forces: the police and the gendarmerie. Women did work as police officers, especially the traffic police force. There were women police inspectors. However there were no women in the Gendarmerie.

On child labour, at the level of structured companies, they believed no children worked for those companies. However children of 13, 14 and 15 years of age were working at home, washing dishes, assisting with housework. They also helped their mothers with the care of younger children. There was no knowledge of children working in industry, including agriculture, it did not exist. In the informal sector children did work sometimes for cash-in-hand jobs, for example carrying a person’s bags in markets for a few coins.

In the informal sector women were responsible for their own small companies and did not have to pay taxes, there were no restrictions. It gave them a small income to help bring up children and even to send their children to school. However after the crisis there were many widows who were heads of households. The Family Code had to be changed to allow women to be recognized as heads of households, and the President had committed to do that very soon.

The Ministry of Health was mandated to combat HIV/AIDS: it was a very important issue. Every time sex was used as a weapon and women were raped there was an outbreak of increased levels of HIV. There had been a strong awareness-raising campaign for people to use condoms or abstinence to combat HIV. There was another campaign on using contraceptives and family planning, via the Directorate on Family Planning. However many men did not accept women taking the contraceptive pill; women had to hide the pill and when men found out about it, it created additional problems.

There was no recent data on health issues. In times of war people could not simply go to villages and collect statistics. The next time Côte d’Ivoire met the Committee they hoped to be able to provide figures on maternal mortality and health issues.

Abortion was not a legal practice and could not be legalized when the Government was trying to improve the living situation of women. Campaigns were being carried out in schools to combat the scourge of illegal abortions among young girls. Girl students often became pregnant after affairs with their teachers – teachers provided girls with diplomas in exchange for sex, and pregnancy was often a consequence.

Raped women came for abortions at a later stage in their pregnancy, once it was visible, and said they could not live with the pregnancy and baby, or tell their husbands – there have been cases of women committing suicide over that. The Government was trying to provide support to those women, to help them live with the pregnancy, especially as women did not come for help in the early stages of pregnancy.

Six per cent was a low health budget but following the legislative elections the new 2012 budget would provide revisions for the health, education and infrastructure budgets.

Malaria was a very serious disease; the Government had been receiving support in combating it. A national network distributed mosquito nets.

Pregnant women suffering from HIV/AIDS had free blood tests and the Ivoirian Agency for Family Welfare and non-governmental organizations helped distribute free anti-retroviral drugs. There were systematic drug tests to ensure pregnant women did not transfer HIV to their children. When positive, those women received assistance.

Questions from Experts

If a couple were both wage earners, the father could collect family benefits but the mother could not. An Expert hoped legislative reform would include social benefits. There were discriminatory laws in tax paying, as married men received a tax reduction while women did not. Furthermore what access to credit did women have?

Since 1998 the alarming poverty levels of rural women had been greatly exacerbated, increasing from 41.8 per cent living in poverty in 1998 to 62.5 per cent in 2008. What programmes had been undertaken to target rural women and internally displaced persons?

Did rural women have access to land? Despite the law, women were rarely land owners owing to socio-cultural constraints, inheritance law and women’s ignorance of their rights and the law.

An Expert asked about Sharia law, as officially there was only one formal legal system in Côte d’Ivoire, but there was widespread use of customary and Sharia law by the people. Customary and Sharia law were not recognized by the State or courts, but were practised by many people. What about marriages and polygamy entered into under customary law?

Response by the Delegation

For a long time Côte d’Ivoire had had discriminatory social services, the delegation said. Many measures had been reviewed in the private sector, and were currently being reviewed in the public sector.

Women’s access to credit was limited, and it was not just a problem for women. There was a small fund allocated to women in business. Women were good at repaying their debts, which had very low interest rates. Micro-credit was well developed in Côte d’Ivoire.

A delegate recognized that rural women were discriminated against, and that they could not inherit land. The Government pledged to review the Land Code and legislation on inheritance. Another delegate added that there was no discrimination under civil law, but under traditional law. Inheritance law was improving, but often couples living under Sharia law were discriminated against.

Customary law and therefore customary marriages were not recognized in Côte d’Ivoire, nor was polygamy. There were some stubborn customary practices that continued to exist, and the Government vowed to reduce and eliminate those discriminatory practises.

Concluding Remarks

In concluding remarks RAYMONDE COFFIE GOUDOU, Minister for Family, Women and Children, said that they were looking forward to continued support from the Committee and reaffirmed the commitment of the Ivoirian people to continue to work to overcome that tragic part of their history and to completely eliminate all discrimination and move towards the rebirth of Côte d’Ivoire.

In preliminary concluding remarks, SILVIA PIMENTEL, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation for their insight into the situation of women’s rights in Côte d’Ivoire, commended them for their efforts and encouraged the State party to take all necessary measures to address all of the recommendations of the Committee for the benefit of all women and girls in Côte d’Ivoire.

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