- CEDAW Committee takes into consideration the List of Issues & Questions proposed by CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs
On March 3, 2014 the representatives of the CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs coordinated by Karat Coalition took part in the Pre-Session Working Group of CEDAW Committee in Geneva. During the Pre-Session the Committee developed the List of Issues & Questions for 8 States parties, including Poland.
CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs presented an oral statement The statement focused on the most burning issues concerning the implementation of CEDAW Convention in Poland such as the principle of non-discrimination and equality, gender stereotypes, violence against women and education, sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as the situation of vulnerable groups of women.
The members of CEDAW Committee, who attended the Pre-Sessional Working Group, asked the representatives several questions concerning the status of ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence in Poland, the national machinery and its capability to implement gender equality, and the Government’s actions towards increasing the women’s participation on the boards of publicly listed companies. The Committee was also interested in the issue of women’s exploitation in prostitution in Poland.
KARAT on behalf of CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs submitted to the CEDAW Committee the proposed List of Issues & Questions along with the draft of the alternative report. The list was taken into account by the Committee and many of the issues raised by CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs can be found in the official CEDAW Committee’s List of Issues & Questions sent to the Polish government.
The review of the Polish Government’s report is scheduled for the 59th Session planned in October 2014, for which the CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs will submit the final version of the alternative report.
Read the CEDAW Committee’s List of Issues & Questions in relation to the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Poland.
- CEDAW Coalition of Polish Non-Governmental Organizations submitted the Shadow Report
On February 13, 2014 KARAT, coordinator of the CEDAW Coalition of Polish Non-Governmental Organizations, submitted a draft of the alternative report to the CEDAW Committee. The report is as part of reporting process of the Polish Government for the period 2002-2010. The draft discusses the most dire problems concerning the implementation of the provisions of CEDAW Convention in Poland for the period 2002-2013.
The chapters contain:
- description and analysis of the most pressing problems related to discrimination of women as well as inaccuracies and gaps in the law and governmental policies
- commentary to the governmental report to the CEDAW Committee
- recommendations for the Polish Government concerning implementation of CEDAW Convention and gender-sensitive policy
At the Pre-Session Working Group (March 3-7, 2014) the CEDAW Committee will adopt the List of Issues and Questions to be asked the Polish Government. The draft of the alternative report is preceded by a proposed List of Issues & Questions which the CEDAW Coalition of Polish NGOs would like to bring to the attention of the Pre-Session Working Group. The review of the Polish Government’s report is scheduled for the 59th Session planned in October 2014.
- Government adopted National Action Plan for Equal Treatment
On December 10, 2013 Polish government adopted a long-awaited “National Action Plan for Equal Treatment for the Years 2013 – 2015”, prepared by the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment. It is the first government document that raises the issue of equal treatment of many groups exposed to discrimination. The document includes analysis of the situation of groups susceptible to discrimination, identifies problematic areas, defines goals and objectives of the national policy, as well as formulates concrete steps to be taken by the government. In terms of women’s rights, there is a strong language on women’s participation in politics. The need for the adoption of parity system with ‘zipper system’ (the alternate order of women and men) on electoral tickets has been highlighted. However, the most burning area of rights’ violations which is sexual and reproductive health has been not adequately recognized in the document. Furthermore, the economic status of women with lower level of education in feminized sectors remains not addressed. The document rarely relates to the foreigners, with the exception of recommendations regarding education of foreign children, appropriate gynecological assistance for women from other cultures and quality of services provided by institutions dealing with imigrants.
- KARAT consults the draft of National Programme of Action for Equal Treatment
In March 2013 the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment (GPET) has finally released the draft of the National Programme of Action for Equal Treatment for the years 2013-2015 (NPET 2013-2015) that concerns eradication of discrimination on all grounds. The document includes analysis of the situation of groups susceptible to discrimination, identifies problematic areas, defines goals and objectives of the national policy, as well as formulates concrete steps to be taken by the government. In terms of women’s rights, there is a strong language on women’s participation in politics. The need for the adoption of parity system with ‘zipper system’ (the alternate order of women and men) on electoral tickets has been highlighted. However, the most burning area of rights’ violations which is sexual and reproductive health has been not adequately recognized in the document. Furthermore, the economic status of women with lower levels of education in feminized sectors remains not addressed.
KARAT together with the Polish Coalition for Equal Opportunities has formulated comments on the document which have been submitted to GPET. The document with comments is available in Polish: Uwagi Koalicji KARAT do “Krajowego Programu Działań na rzecz równego traktowania na lata 2013-2015″.
KARAT is disapointed that the draft programme has been developed with a delay and is concerned about lack of funding allocated for its implementation. The latter is especially alarming in terms of the effectiveness of the programme, and certainly puts a huge question mark against the scope, to which envisioned objectives could be realized.
What worries KARAT even more is that the area of most blatant violations of women’s rights in Poland – sexual and reproductive health – is almost non-existent in the draft programme and there is no political will to improve the situation (e.g. ensuring access to legal termination of pregnancy, assessing the negative consequences of restrictive anti-abortion law in Poland).
- Delayed report to CEDAW Committee finally adopted
On 7th of September 2012 the Council of Ministers has finally adopted the report on the implementation of CEDAW in Poland in the years 2002-2010. Further, the report will be submitted to the CEDAW Committee, that would indicate the timing of the reviewing session.
The government report is available inEnglish at: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fPOL%2f7-8&Lang=en
- Progress in a long-awaited National Program of Action for Equal Treatment
On 21–25 May 2012, the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment (GPET) consulted with civil society organizations (CSOs) and academics the priorities and content of the National Program of Action for Equal Treatment (NPAET) in main areas of rights such as: employment, access to healthcare, education, as well as access to goods and services. During the consultation meetings the general approach to anti-discrimination policy in Poland, including legal protection, was also thoroughly discussed.
KARAT’s representatives participated in the consultations and contributed to the policy formulation related to advancement of the situation of women in the labor market (incl. prioritizing the need to address the problem of “working poor” among women), as well as in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights (esp. eliminating barriers hampering women’s access to lawful abortion services).
The formulation of the NPAET for the years 2013-2015 is very important in terms of defining anti-discrimination policies in the upcoming years. KARAT also hopes that the outcome document will include the burning issues highlighted by CSOs during the meetings.
- CSOs consulted about the delayed report to CEDAW Committee
The Polish government has finally developed the draft Report on the Implementation of CEDAW. It was possible largely due to the over one year long campaign by the informal CEDAW coalition of 13 organizations coordinated by KARAT in Poland. The government put the Report for consultations with CSOs following the CEDAW Committee’s recommendation and the coalition’s demand.
At the end of March 2012 the members of informal CEDAW coalition submitted a joint statement on the government’s CEDAW report to the Office of the Government’s Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment. Along with the detailed comments on the report, the statement highlighted a general remarks related to government’s performance in terms of advancing women’s human rights.
First of all, the coalition stressed that there has been a serious political backlash in terms of the state’s commitment to improve situation of women. Since 2005 the government has not developed nor implemented any National Program of Action for Women, despite the fact that it was urged to do this by CEDAW Committee. Secondly, there has been no sustainable institutional machinery for the advancement of women since a closedown of the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men in 2005. These results in the lack of significant progress in women’s issues in the last few years, especially in the most problematic areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as the growing phenomenon of working poor among women.
- Polish government asked about delayed CEDAW report
KARAT is very concerned about the Polish government not meeting its commitments towards CEDAW Committee. The government still has not submitted the periodic report on the implementation of CEDAW Convention in the years 2002-2010. In February 2012 KARAT took an active part in submitting the parliamentary question to the Polish MPs about the delayed report. It also asked the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment about the date of issuing the report and declared its interest in participating in the consultations of the official report. The Plenipotentiary said that the report would be published in the upcoming weeks and confirmed KARAT’s involvement in consultations. KARAT hopes that the constant pressure on the government from CSOs will lead to this important report being submitted to the CEDAW Committee.
- Demand for national machinery for the advancement of women
Along with a newly appointed government, a result of the October parliamentary elections, a chance of a competent and supportive for women’s rights Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment has come up. On November 9th 2011 KARAT in partnership with two Polish NGOs appealed to the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, to establish the governmental office for equal chances and women’s rights with adequate budget and mechanism enabling the CSOs to participate in formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies. CSOs called upon the Prime Minister to appoint for the office a person experienced in the field of eradicating discrimination, ready to cooperate with CSOs representing the groups vulnerable to discrimination.
The previous government’s anti-discrimination policy left much to be desired, and the person appointed for a position of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment proved to be incompetent and anti-women’s rights.
- Polish government, women’s rights and our disappointment
At the last session of the Sejm (Polish Lower House of Parliament) of the current term of office, the Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment on behalf of the Government presented what has been done to advance women’s rights and eliminate gender-based discrimination in the last four years. The information was provided on the request of the leftwing party in opposition in Sejm.
KARAT in cooperation with civil society organizations working in the field of women’s rights organized a press conference at which main comments to the Government’s performance were presented. First of all, women’s groups expressed disappointment with the fact that the Government did not commit to effectively improve women’s situation (especially vulnerable groups of women) and that there was no comprehensive approach to policy making. Poland did not implement any National Programme for Women since 2005, which translates into lack of sustained and relevant policy at place. The ad hoc activities that are carried out do not address the most burning areas of discrimination that are: reproductive health and rights, discrimination in education, sustained gender-based stereotypes and lack of legal protection from discrimination in all areas of life.
Women’s rights advocates highlighted dissatisfaction resulting from the fact that women’s groups weren’t involved in the consultation process with the Office of the Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, as well as design, implementation and evaluation of activities.
What is more, Polish Government did not take any action to implement the last Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee and it did not meet the deadline for submitting its next periodic report that was due to September 2010.
- 3rd Strategic Meeting around Polish CEDAW reporting process
On 13th of April, the 3rd Strategic Meeting of women’s rights advocates, activists and experts took place in Warsaw. The meeting focused on discussing thematic priorities of the alternative report on the government’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW). Polish Government reported to the CEDAW Committee in January 2007 and was bound to submit its next periodic report on the implementation of CEDAW by September 2010. The office of the government plenipotentiary for equal treatment of men and women (that coordinates the elaboration of the government report) informed KARAT that the report would be soon finalized and assured that KARAT along with its partner organizations in Poland (working on alternative report) would be involved in social consultations of the draft document.
During the strategic meeting it was decided that the alternative report will emphasize, among others, the following issues linked to women’s human rights: newly introduced so called “antidiscrimination” law that does not provide women with adequate protection from discrimination (e.g. it excludes the area of education and so called “private life”), trends on the labour market (mainly intensification of law and female worker’s rights violation), as well as situation of diverse groups of women (including rural women, migrants and LBT).
- CEDAW Committee will work on women’s access to justice
KARAT Coalition welcomes the recent decision of the CEDAW Committee to elaborate General Recommendation on Women’s Access to Justice. Since 2010 under its Women’s Human Rights Program, KARAT has been focusing on the problem of barriers (including those of social, cultural, economic and religious character) that women face when justice seeking at national level that hampers women from using Optional Protocol to CEDAW (OP CEDAW), as one of the admissibility criteria for submitting communication under this mechanism is exhaustion of national remedies. In its statement on the relationship with NGOs from February 2010, the CEDAW Committee ‘encourages NGOs to provide inputs on general recommendations under elaboration’.
- Advocacy among MPs for National Action Plan for Women
Civil society organizations (CSOs) mobilized around CEDAW reporting process in Poland undertook joint advocacy action among MPs for the formulation and implementation of the National Action Plan for Women, that hasn’t been realized in Poland since the previous one ceased in 2005. In its Concluding Observations from the last reporting session in 2007, the CEDAW Committee has called upon the Government ‘to adopt a comprehensive national action plan for gender equality with sufficient resources, in consultation with women’s non-governmental organizations’. Unfortunately, the Government did not develop such plan, which is perceived as huge problem by women’s rights advocates.
- Inquiring government on consultation process of official CEDAW report
The informal Coalition around CEDAW reporting process in Poland has undertaken a number of advocacy activities. It launched communication with the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, that coordinates the works on the government periodic report on the implementation of CEDAW 2002 – 2010, on the involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the process. The Plenipotentiary – Elzbieta Radziszewska – in the communication dated 24/02/2011 reaffirmed that when the draft of the report was ready, CSOs would be invited to consult it. The communication with the Office of the Plenipotentiary was accompanied by the mini-campaign carried out by informal Coalition around CEDAW among other CSOs which aim was to promote involvement in CEDAW reporting process through participation in the consultation process of the official report.
- Strategic meetings of women’s rights advocates around CEDAW reporting process
On 1st and 17th of February strategic meetings of women’s rights advocates on CEDAW reporting process took place in Warsaw. An informal Coalition consisting of 6 organizations* was set up for joint elaboration of concept and methodology of work on the alternative report. The structure and content of the report were discussed and agreed upon. It was highlighted that incorporation of different perspectives of various groups of women, especially LBT, rural women and migrants, was very important. The report will also address the problem of barriers in women’s access to justice.
Draft chapters on the subsequent articles of the Convention will be elaborated by the end of April 2011.
*The current compilation of informal Coalition: Campaign Against Homophobia, Feminoteka, Federation for Women and Family Planning, KARAT Coalition, Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law and Women’s Space Foundation.
- 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
The priority theme of the 55th Session of CSW was access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s full employment and decent work. Polish official delegation was represented by Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment – Elzbieta Radziszewska, who in the view of women’s human rights advocates isn’t adequately committed to women’s issues.
Ms Radziszewska speech on the priority theme can be watched at: http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2011/02/poland-55th-session-of-csw.html
The outcome document of CSW 55 – the Agreed Conclusions – is available for download at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/55sess.htm#agreed
- CEDAW reviewing process: official periodic report in progress
In the communication with the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, KARAT has learned that the work on the official governmental periodic report on the implementation of CEDAW, that was due to be submitted to the CEDAW Committee for the review by September 2010, is about to be finalized. The Report covering period from 2002 to 2010 will be then passed for social consultations. KARAT communicated its willingness to participate in the process.
- Parlament passes Gender Quota Bill
On 5th of January the Polish Parliament approved Gender Quota Bill that aims at increasing women’s participation in political life. Before the Bill enters into force it must be signed by the President. According to the new legislation, at least 35 percent of all candidates on the lists of all parties running for seats in the 460-seat lower House of Parliament must be women. However, the rule does not apply to elections to the 100-seat upper House, the Senate.
The idea was launched by the Polish Women’s Congress that drafted law proposal on parity and collected more than 100,000 signatures of citizens supporting it. Unfortunately, the original project was changed by the Parliament and a number of places guaranteed for women was reduced to 35%.
Underrepresentation of women in political life has been a concern for CEDAW Committee that called upon Polish government to adapt temporary special measures to accelerate women’s full and equal participation in elected positions.
Currently women account for some 20 percent of deputies in the lower house and for only 8 percent of senators. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for autumn 2011.
- New Polish anti-discrimination law in violation with CEDAW standards
Despite continuous and determined protests of the civil society mobilized in the Coalition for Equal Chances, on 22nd of December the President has signed the so called ‘anti-discrimination’ law titled ‘act on the implementation of certain provisions of the European Union in the field of equal treatment’. The title of the act displays itself the lack of political will of Polish decision-makers to introduce comprehensive legislation that would effectively protect individuals from discrimination. It was only adopted due to the pressures from the European Commission for failing to fulfill the legally-binding obligation of implementing equality directives that might end up in financial penalties. Disappointment of the civil society results from the fact the act differentiates the level of protection for various groups and limits areas of life where discrimination can be recognized. For instance, it does not provide protection from discrimination for girls and women in education and so called ‘private sphere’. It means that applying different standards for women and men at universities wouldn’t be considered as discriminatory in the light of the new law. Women’s groups claim that the act violates women’s right to be free from all forms of discrimination in all fields of life, the right that is guaranteed by the ratified by Poland Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
- Launch of the project
KARAT has pleasure to announce its new project titled ‘Advocacy for CEDAW implementation in Poland 2010-2012’ that is realized within the framework of KARAT’s Women’s Human Rights Program. The Project is related to the CEDAW* reporting process in Poland as the government is due to be reviewed by the CEDAW Committee in 2012. The Project focuses on advocacy for the critical women’s rights issues in Poland (e.g. adoption of parity and anti-discrimination act, reproductive rights) through monitoring of the implementation of CEDAW Concluding Observations (COs) and production of the Shadow Report in coalition with women’s rights advocates. The Project aims also at assessing women’s access to justice and eliminating existing barriers that hamper litigation of rights under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.
* Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women