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Honduras: Results from women's rights progress long overdue, say experts

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TEGUCIGALPA (14 November 2018) –  Honduras has made progress towards protecting and promoting women’s rights but the Government must allocate more funding to achieve its gender equality goals, UN human rights experts said today.

While the Government had strengthened its legal and institutional framework, including through the creation of gender units, the Inter-Institutional Commission on Femicide and the Ciudad Mujer services project, reforms needed to be followed up with budgetary commitments to protect women's rights in practice, the experts said after a 14-day visit.

"After travelling throughout the country and hearing the daunting reality women face, we saw that promising initiatives are not enough. Results must follow," said Ivana Radačić and Alda Facio, from the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice.

“We regret to learn that the proportion of women in national political leadership has actually gone down in recent years," the independent experts added, noting that rules on equal representation of women and men in politics were distorted so that fewer women were elected.

The experts also reported that women aiming for public and political life often faced discouragement and sometimes violence. "We encourage the Government to pass the bill on violence against women in politics and robustly implement gender parity laws,” said the experts.  

Women also generally had higher rates of unemployment than men and those working in maquila manufacturing plants, where labour laws often were skirted,  and domestic workers were vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. "We call on the Government to fill in the gaps in protection for maquila and domestic workers, and for consistent enforcement of the Honduran labour law," the experts said.

Health was another issue that needed to be fixed. "Honduras is one of only a handful of countries worldwide to have an absolute ban on abortion and emergency contraception -  even in cases of rape, incest and endangerment to the life or health of the pregnant women or severe fetal abnormality.”

In a country with one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the region, comprehensive sexual education also was lacking, the experts noted.

“While there are certain civic education programmes in public schools, more efforts should be undertaken to include programmes focusing on gender equality and violence against women. These programmes should begin at primary educational level to institute a culture of respect for gender equality and to break down gender stereotypes.”

The experts said widespread violence against women, inequality, insecurity and impunity fuel migration and women human rights defenders in Honduras are regularly ciminalized, intimidated and even killed. “Much more needs to be done to tackle all of these challenges, which stem from a machismo society. We urge the Government to strengthen its efforts to secure gender equality and women’s rights and immediately put an end to impunity,” they said.

ENDS

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23873&LangID=E
The Working Group will present its report on the visit to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019.

ENDS

The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice was created by the Human Rights Council in 2011 to identify, promote and exchange views, in consultation with States and other actors, on good practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women. The Group is also tasked with developing a dialogue with States and other actors on laws that have a discriminatory impact where women are concerned.

The Working Group is comprises five independent experts: the Current Chair: Ivana Radačić (Croatia), Alda Facio (Costa Rica), Elizabeth Broderick (Australia), Meskerem Geset Techane (Ethiopia) and Melissa Upreti (Nepal).

UN Human Rights, country page –Honduras

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