Posted by: lauraannwilson | February 18, 2015

60th Session of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women – 6th Periodic Report on Gabon – Afternoon session 3pm, 17 February 2015 (live commentary from Geneva)

Please note that this blog follows from an earlier blog titled “Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women 60th Session – Review of Gabon”, that provided a live commentary on the morning session Review of Gabon (17 February 2015, 10am – 1pm, Geneva). Please refer to the earlier blog for the issues raided by the CEDAW Working Group.

This current blog provides a live commentary from the Review of Gabon afternoon session (17 February 2015).

In the afternoon session, Gabon responded to the issues and queries raised by the Working Group in the morning session. The current discussion is surrounding the status of rural women.

The Working Group raised the issue of the status of rural women and requested an update on the status of rural women. The Working Group in particular requested information on the steps that the Gabon government has taken to provide equal access to basic services (education, health, infrastructure), land ownership and land management, and economic opportunities.

Gabon commented that it has implemented a land distribution program, where the government aims to recover land and redistribute to include women. A question from the floor regarding this program, challenged whether compulsory acquisition is the best approach, given that people lose their land. Gabon clarified that the government will not displace people. 

Gabon stated that it has implemented access to drinking water, power, energy in rural areas. Gabon highlighted that since 2010, there has been a national policy and program on village hydrology. The village hydrology program was piloted in several rural communities, and has now been extended. The success of this program is demonstrated by the majority of villages having access to hydronic pumps. Gabon is now focused on providing solar panels to villages. The solar panel program aims to promote entrepreneurship, improved quality of products, efficient distribution and improved infrastructure.

On the topic of marriage, a delegate raised oncern regarding the legal age of marriage of women. Delegate highlighted that the legal age of marriage for women is 15. However, in certain circumstances, women are able to marry below the age of 15. The legal age of marriage for males is 18.

Gabon responded that polygamous and monogamous marriages are recognised in Gabon. The government is supporting education of women and girls regarding polygamy and ‘the difficulty that this union poses’. Gabon also highlighted that it recognises that Articles in the Civil Code pertaining to marriage are discriminatory. Gabon highlighted that it has established an Inter-ministerial Commission to examine these provisions, with the view of rewriting the laws to prohibit discrimination.

Gabon further stated “we can’t ask a 15 year old girl to marry, while a 15 year old boy is still in school”. Gabon stressed that the government is aware of the discrimination of marriage laws, and it is working towards rectifying this situation. 

Gabon concluded that it is involved in an ‘ongoing and lengthy process to change attitudes of law makers’. However, also stressed that it has a very progressive First Lady, and is committed to CEDAW. The CEDAW Committee commended the work of Gabon thus far, and further encourages it to continue to work towards implementing CEDAW obligations.

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