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The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has published its findings on the countries it examined during its latest session from 10 to 28 February 2020: Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Eritrea, Kiribati, Latvia, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova, and Zimbabwe.
Overall, the findings contain positive aspects of how the respective States are implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, highlight matters of concern and make recommendations. The Concluding observations on the eighth periodic report of Bulgaria welcomes the progress achieved in undertaking legislative reforms as well as the efforts to improve its institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting gender equality. At the same time, the report outlines a number of principal areas of concern and recommendations, some of which are highlighted below:
 
Definition of discrimination against women – The Committee notes that the principle of direct and indirect discrimination against women is enshrined in the State party’s legislation. It remains concerned, however, that this definition does not include discrimination based on gender and intersecting forms of discrimination.
 

Civil society organizations – The Committee notes the strong role of the civil society in implementing policies and programmes in the State party. It is, however, concerned at restrictions on the activities of some non-governmental organizations, and the suspension or closure of several such organizations working in the fields of women’s rights and gender equality.

Stereotypes and harmful practices – The Committee remains concerned by the State party’s limited commitment to combating persistent gender stereotypes affecting the educational and career choices of women and girls. The Committee is particularly concerned at:
(a) Increased instances of anti-gender discourse in the public domain, and the public backlash in the perception of gender equality, and misogynistic statements in the media, including by high-ranking politicians;
(b) The promotion of a concept of traditional family values, confining women solely to the role of mothers and domestic responsibilities, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy for the elimination of discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society;
(c) The persistence of child and/or forced marriages, despite legislation prohibiting marriage under the age of 16, in particular affecting Roma girls;
(d) The increasing level of hate speech and sexism in the media, in particular on-line social media.

Gender-based violence against women – The Committee notes at the Constitutional Court decision No.13/2018 of 27 July 2018 on the incompatibility of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), with the State party’s Constitution, and is concerned because it impedes its ratification. The Committee also remains concerned at (a) The fact that the current legislation does not define and criminalize all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls, including physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence, as well as the absence of ex officio prosecution for acts of gender-based violence against women.

Women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination – The Committee is concerned that women and girls with disabilities and lesbian and transgender women and intersex persons (LBTI), continue to face intersecting forms of discrimination and gender-based violence.
The Committee provides a set of recommendations to the Bulgarian government in each of the principal areas of concern, among which are “the continuing harmonization of national legislation to eliminate gender-based violence against women, in accordance with the Convention, and ratify the Istanbul Convention”, as well as “to urgently implement specifically targeted measures to achieve substantive equality for women and girls at all spheres of life who face intersecting forms of discrimination, such as women and girls with disabilities and LBTI women.”
The findings, officially known as concluding observations, can be found HERE.