19/08/02
Press Release
WOM/1361



Committee on Elimination of

Discrimination against Women

585th Meeting (AM)


GREECE DESCRIBES WIDE RANGE OF LEGISLATION PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY


AS ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE CONTINUES EXCEPTIONAL SESSION


The expert members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning pointed out gaps in Greece’s legal provisions establishing equality between women and men, despite the clear political will of the Government, guided by the provisions of the European Union, to promote it and even as the country commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of having given women the right to vote.


The Committee was considering the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Greece on compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as it continued its three-week exceptional session, being held to reduce a backlog of country reports.


Effi Bekou-Balta, Secretary-General of Greece’s General Secretariat for Gender Equality, the Government body responsible for women’s rights and gender issues within the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization, introduced the reports.  She said Greece had ratified the Convention in 1983, and its Optional Protocol in 2001.  The Convention constituted an integral part of Greece’s legislation and prevailed over any other contrary provision of law. Greece’s full participation within the European Union had greatly contributed to the promotion of gender equality.


She added that legislative measures to promote gender equality included: revision of the Constitution to allow for positive action; establishment of an Inter-ministerial Committee on Gender Equality; new legal provisions for compulsory participation of both sexes in at least one third of the members of public administration decision-making councils; establishment of a Parliamentary Permanent Equality and Human Rights Committee; and a draft law on combating crimes against sexual freedom, child pornography and sexual exploitation.  Sixty-one

per cent of students graduating from universities were women, some 64 per cent of new managerial positions in the public sector were held by women, and the net increase of women’s employment was equivalent to some 82 per cent of new jobs created.


Experts applauded those accomplishments, as well as a provision allowing undocumented migrant women to have working and residence permits and a project regarding integration of the Muslim minority, taking into account the Shariah.


Regarding the latter project, however, the expert from Turkey warned that, although respect for religious minorities was important, "religious enclaves must not become enclaves for the suppression of women".


The expert from the Republic of Korea noted that, while a prohibition was in place against stereotypes, there was strong gender stereotyping in Greek society.  Women spent 34 hours a week on household chores, while men spent only nine hours a week. Other experts pointed out that marital rape was not a crime under the Penal Code and that a law on sexual harassment was absent, even though 70 per cent of working women seemed to have been victim of such behaviour.  An absence of women at the decision-making level of the foreign service was also noted.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 20 August, to consider the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Hungary.


Background


The fourth and fifth periodic reports of Greece (combined in document CEDAW/C/GRC/45), explain that recent important changes have occurred in the country’s economic and social conditions.  Its entry into the Economic and Monetary Union, the high growth rates of the Greek economy and the assurance of a stable macroeconomic environment have been important factors for a rapid development of strategies, infrastructures, policies and actions for the implementation of gender equality in Greek society.  The change in the role of the Greek woman and her conversion from a domestic to a significant economic entity was the starting point for a change in the basic Greek mentality and in stereotypes of a woman’s place in society.


That change went hand-in-hand with active strategies and actions undertaken by the Government, with a view to eliminating discrimination against women and accepting socially their active role in the country’s economic and social life, the combined report states.  In that context, the Greek Parliament judged that the part of the Constitution concerning equal rights and obligations for Greek men and women needed to be revised.  The provision under revision clearly recognizes the need to undertake special positive measures for women to achieve de facto equality.  Participation in European Union institutions and international organizations has been a fundamental factor for planning and implementing new political actions and for creating infrastructure to promote equality in all sectors. 


In a section entitled "Basic axes of social policy", the report outlines employment policies, human resources development, the strengthening of mechanisms for social protection through the Network against Poverty and Exclusion and equal opportunities for women.  With respect to article 1 of the Convention, on the elimination of discrimination against women, the 1998 project for the social integration of Muslim women and children in the area of Metaxourgio is discussed. Project actions include programmes of support for those women by a specialized staff; literacy; an educational sewing workshop; the creative occupation of young children; and support of assisted school attendance to prevent children from dropping out.


Regarding compliance with the Convention’s article 7, on the participation of women in political and public life, the report finds that while women in Greece play a leading role in social change, they are "absent in the critical hour of decisions and planning" and only participate with a less than 10 per cent share in the National Parliament and the local administration.  This is mainly attributed to the unequal distribution of responsibilities in the family environment.


Modern women are called upon to fulfil multiple roles under the prejudice of unequal sharing in authority and responsibility of decisions in all sectors.  That traditional concept makes it difficult for women to reconcile their family and occupational responsibilities.  At the same time, men in Greece are not yet fully aware of their responsibility to share equally in the obligations of family life.


According to the report, the Government has incorporated the principle of equality in all policies, thus shaping a new landscape for Greek women in the twenty-first century.  The legal and institutional guarantee of equality is achieved and the contemporary Greek woman unfolds her "weighty" role in the political, scientific and business sector with each passing day.  Political will in Greece goes hand-in-hand with the struggles and actions of women:  specific policies help to shape a future that meets their aspirations.  Participation of women in development planning is encouraged and women's activities are integrated in the development process. 


Also, the combined report states, European and national policies in the matter of equality also focus attention on the active participation of women in economic life.  Affirmative actions and measures are developed, which are then integrated in the third Community Support Framework so that women, by becoming stronger in financial terms, may achieve their personal independence and be enabled to participate actively in political life as well.  The General Secretariat for Equality has proposed introduction of quotas at both the administrative and the political level.


Introduction of Country Report


EFFI BEKOU-BALTA, Secretary-General, General Secretariat for Equality of Women, introduced her country’s report, saying that gender equality was one of the country’s major goals.  Gender equality reflected the political will of the Government and was based on the principles of democracy, economic and social integration, participation, non-discrimination, tolerance and social justice.  The General Secretariat for Gender Equality was the Government body responsible for women’s rights and gender issues within the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization.


The six-year action plan for gender equality consisted of four major areas, including women and politics, women and the economy, social rights and stereotypes, she said.  Globalization and technological developments had increased work in the area of gender equality.  Greece’s full participation within the European Union had greatly contributed to the promotion of gender equality.


Regarding legislative measures to promote gender equality, she said Greece was among the first 22 countries to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention.  Other measures included revision of article 116 of the Constitution; establishment of an Interministerial Committee on Gender Equality; new legal provisions for the compulsory participation of both sexes in at least one third of the membership of public administration decision-making councils; establishment of a Parliamentary Permanent Equality and Human Rights Committee; and a draft law on combating crimes against sexual freedom, child pornography and sexual exploitation. 


She said Greece had signed the Convention in 1982 and ratified it in 1983.  It was an integral part of the country’s legislation and prevailed over any other contrary provision of law.  The Gender Secretariat comprised 45 persons and from 1999 to 2002, its budget had increased by some 300 per cent.  Despite stringent economic measures, the Government’s policy was to increase the gender equality budget and to empower national mechanisms, she added. 


Regarding violence against women, she said the General Secretariat had been working on that problem for many years.  The Government had established an Interministerial Committee to elaborate relevant draft law and awareness-raising campaigns.  A nationwide, multimedia campaign had had a great impact on society.


Trafficking in persons was a complex problem that should be dealt with from every angle, she went on to say.  Greece had moved the issue high up on the political agenda and the General Secretariat had provided funding for initiatives to familiarize Greek society with the issue.


In April 2001, she said, a Special Committee against Human Trafficking had been set up to design and oversee the impact of specific anti-trafficking measures.  That body’s immediate goal had been to update Greece’s anti-trafficking legislation in line with existing international legal instruments.  Draft legislation had been submitted to Parliament in July and was expected to be adopted in the coming fall.


The draft law consisted of two parts, including new criminal offences and victim assistance, she continued.  Chapter 19 of the Greek Penal Code had been amended, emphasizing the protection of minors and other vulnerable groups from exploitation.  Article 351, on trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, had been radically amended to correspond to the specific needs of Greece.  A new provision -– article 323A on trafficking in persons –- had been added to the Penal Code to target modern forms of human trafficking.  The second part of the draft law established a comprehensive framework for victim assistance, including physical protection, psychological aid, shelters, legal counselling and repatriation mechanisms.


On decision-making and political participation, she said that in the last

20 years, there had been a strong women’s movement for equal participation by women in political, social and economic decision-making.  Women from all political parties had established the Women’s Political Association after a long and difficult struggle.  This year, the women’s movement was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of women’s right to vote.


She said that the adoption of two laws on compulsory participation of at least one third of both sexes in candidate’s lists for municipal and prefectural elections reflected the political will of the Government and a broad consensus among the political parties.  The Government had launched a major mass media campaign encouraging women to be candidates in the elections.  The municipal and prefectural elections scheduled for October 2002 would be a breakthrough for Greek women and would create a pool of political resources. 


Regarding education and stereotypes, she said that in 2001, the majority of graduates from Greek universities some 61 per cent were women.  Major operational programmes planned and funded by the European Union and national resources for 2001-2006 included awareness-raising and sensitizing teachers on gender equality in 3,500 secondary schools throughout the country; positive action programmes in all technical secondary schools and reorienting girls towards technical skills.  At the university level, funding had been allocated for the creation of Gender Studies and Gender Research departments in some 25 universities.


Important tools to combat unemployment included the National Action Plans for Employment, which had been developed since 1999 on the basis of social dialogue, she said.  They had been developed on the four pillars of improving employability, adaptability, entrepreneurship and equality.  The Gender Secretariat, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, had incorporated gender in mainstreaming in four pillars and special programmes had been initiated to empower women to accede to the labour market.


The General Secretariat had also launched a series of campaigns to improve the status of women within the labour market including equal pay for equal work and legal aid, she said.  Between 1993 and 2000, the net increase of women’s employment was equivalent to some 82 per cent of new jobs created.  Some

64 per cent of new managerial positions in the public sector were held by women.  In the last 10 years, employed women with high levels of education had increased by some 32 per cent.  Regarding migrant women, the Government had provided undocumented migrants with working and residence permits, she said.  It had also established a Migration Institute in the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization.


Greece had accepted the amendment to article 20 (1) of the Convention and was currently in the process of ratifying it, she said.  The Government was making well designed and systematic efforts to promote gender equality and to incorporate gender mainstreaming in its policies and at all stages of decision-making.  The advancement and empowerment of women had benefited women and society as a whole, she concluded.


Experts’ Questions


FRANÇOISE GASPARD, expert from France, said she was surprised to read a number of comments about article 1, relating to the integration of Muslim women and children.  That process had not seemed to relate to article 1, she noted.  Article 4 talked about equality mechanisms but, in the Convention, that article related to temporary special measures.  Might there be some problem with understanding the Convention? she asked. 


How was the Convention disseminated and was it taught at universities? she asked.  In light of the delegation’s assertion that the Convention was an important part of the country’s legislation, she asked why it had never been invoked in court. What relationships were devised with civil society in the drafting of the periodic reports? What was the status of the General Secretariat for gender equality and exactly where did it fit in the general framework? she asked. What did the delegation expect from the upcoming elections and had the Government supported women in their campaigns? Was there a comprehensive programme to combat domestic violence? she asked.


MARIA REGINA TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, noting that the country’s policies had been reinforced within the framework of the European Union, said the Government should understand, nevertheless, that the Convention was much broader in terms of women’s rights than the requirements of the European Union.  She sought clarification about the national machinery for women, particularly whether it was an independent body or under the Government’s authority, and on steps to improve education.  She further noted that a telephone hotline for women had been in operation for only five months, adding that the number of calls indicated the need for such a service.


IVANKA CORTI, expert from Italy, asked whether the fourth and fifth periodic reports had been prepared in the same spirit as the initial report.  Expressing concern about the restructuring of the national machinery for women, she asked whether it remained as institutionally important as before.  How had the national machinery ensured that the mass media’s influence was positive, leading to a change in the patriarchal attitude that was deeply entrenched in Greek society?


Noting that a law on domestic violence was still pending, she asked why there had been no special law until now, especially in light of the gravity and prevalence of that problem.  The perception of rape was one of a crime against sexual freedom, but not against personal freedom.  Should the Ministerial Committee seek to change that? Noting the widespread sexual abuse of children and an increase in trafficking of women and girls for sexual purposes, she agreed that Greece, as both a transit and destination country, was in a “very bad position”.  Could the delegation provide more details about the draft law on that question? For the moment, trafficking victims coming in from other countries continued to be prosecuted and detained, before their expulsion.  She also sought more information about Sharia, or Islamic law.


HEISOO SHIN, expert from the Republic of Korea, said that while a prohibition was in place against stereotypes, there was strong gender stereotyping in Greek society.  Had any impact analysis been done on the prohibition?  Referring to the findings of the Greek National Centre for Social Research on how much time men spent on household chores and child rearing, she said that on average, women spent 34 hours a week on household chores, while men spent only nine hours a week; women spent an average of 15 hours on child care, while men spent only eight hours.  Given the delegation’s emphasis on harmonizing work and family, how had related policies encouraged men to participate more equally?


Country Response


FOTINI SIANOU, Adviser, General Secretariat for Gender Equality, said there was a continuous policy between the national machinery for gender equality and the women’s movement in Greece. The two enjoyed an old and close relationship. It was important to continue the relationship with the women’s movement. The national machinery was a part of the movement.


The status of the General Secretariat had increased, she said.  It had been empowered as a result of public and social dialogue.  Greece had received much funding through the European Union.  Under pressure from the General Secretariat and the women’s movement, a specific percentage of funds had been assured for gender mainstreaming.  The two would be judged on the basis of how well they used that funding.


She said the Secretariat’s previous status under the Presidency had been that of a council.  It now enjoyed a strong position, reporting directly to the Minister.  The establishment of the Interministerial Committee was aimed at implementing gender mainstreaming mechanisms.  The Minister of Interior presided over the Committee, which had responsibility for planning and gender mainstreaming.


Regarding the KETHI –- the Research Centre for Gender Equality, she said that while it was not an independent body, it was a useful tool for developing programmes and policies.  Regarding issues of economic substance, she said employment was a major issue.  Women’s participation in the labour market was increasing and irreversible.  Women no longer dropped out for child-care reasons. 


On the issue of violence, she said one of the major achievements had been awareness-raising and making violence a political issue.  Regarding marital rape, the new draft law was ready but it had not yet been submitted to Parliament.  The issue of marital rape would be a major battle.   On stereotyping and the media, she said the secretariat had received free time for social messages on gender equality.  The message on women’s participation in decision-making was coming through.  Education was also a major area and projects were under way at virtually every school in Greece.  Major revisions of schoolbooks would also be made.  The sharing of household responsibilities was one of the biggest battles under way, but change did not happen in a day.  The figures on childcare were correct and she considered it an achievement that men spent eight hours a day on childcare.


Regarding sexual harassment, she noted that Greece and Portugal did not have specific laws on the subject.  The General Secretariat had been trying to process a specific law.  While some cases had been taken to court, it was a difficult process.  On violence and SoS lines, she said two offices provided legal advice and social support.  Calls were directed to those offices.  On the list for candidates in forthcoming elections, a quota system was followed.  Lists were prepared in alphabetical order, rather than in terms of gender.  Actions had been taken to empower women to participate in the elections. 


ANNA KOTROTSOU, Expert/Adviser, Ministry of Public Order, said Greece was a transit and destination country.  The issue had been placed high on the political agenda and in human trafficking, and a draft bill submitted to Parliament in

July 2002 would be an invaluable tool for arresting the perpetrators of human trafficking and in providing assistance to victims.  The first part of the bill related to the suppression of crimes and the second to the provision of assistance to victims.  An additional article provided that perpetrators would be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to 50,000 Euros.


The law against human trafficking for sexual exploitation had been updated to more effectively punish the modern form of human trafficking, she said.  The draft law provided for aggravating cases, including acts against minors.  In the second part of the draft law, provisions for victim assistance to women and minors had been included, including physical protection.  Shelters would be created, lawyers and interpreters would be assigned to victims.  In addition, victims of human trafficking would be repatriated without violating their dignity.  It was true that due to a lack of specific legislation on human trafficking, victims were being deported, but there were establishments that provided first aid and shelter to victims.


She added that research over 10 years had shown an increase in victims of human trafficking until 1997. From 1998 on, the number of victims had remained stable.


Ms. BEKOU said the law regarding Sharia related to family and inheritance issues. Since the Vienna Conference on Human Rights and the Beijing Conference, human rights was “the bottom line”. The Government’s position was that violation of human rights in the name of religion was unacceptable.


Turning to dissemination of the Convention, she said there was a non-compulsory course in schools on gender equality.  All relevant reports were disseminated among civil society and other institutions in thousands of printed copies, and interest in the subject was increasing.  The Convention was also accessible on the Web site of the General Secretariat for Equality.


On stereotyping, she said there was cooperation with a non-governmental organization called European Women Journalists in Greece, which had completed extensive research in the media, including on the subject of gender equality, the results of which were not very encouraging. Efforts were under way to increase the value of fatherhood among the populace, and the right of fathers to take parental leave had been strengthened.


Experts’ Questions


NAELA GABR, expert from Egypt, welcomed the respect expressed for the Muslim women minority, but noted that while Greek society was moving forward rapidly, the Muslim minority might not be as involved as it could be.  Sharia was flexible and the modern Muslim woman was allowed to work and participate in social development.  She asked for more information on the promotion of women’s rights for the benefit of Muslim women and children, awareness-raising among Muslim women and literacy programmes.


AYSE FERIDE ACAR of Turkey, Committee Vice-Chairperson, said she hoped that enclaves of religious minorities did not become enclaves of women’s suppression.  The human rights of religious minorities should be fully protected, she said, underscoring the importance of education for minority women.


HANNA BEATE SCHOPP-SHILLING, expert from Germany, noted a “conceptual confusion” in the report regarding the employment market. The report categorized women together with such categories as young persons and unemployed. Women, however, were part of both unemployed and young people.  As long as they were categorized together with other marginalized groups, it would be difficult to target multiple discrimination against women.  The same confusion seemed to be present with regard to equal opportunities.  She asked whether equal opportunity was defined only in a formal sense or also in a substantive sense.  She also asked for the new text of the Constitution, specifically as article 116 had been altered in order to eliminate the possibility of deviation from the principle of equality.


ROSARIO MANALO, expert from the Philippines, Committee Vice-Chairperson, applauded the law allowing for undocumented migrants to have working and residence permits. She hoped that the next report would give indicators and statistics showing the extend to which they had been integrated. She also asked if there were legal plans regarding smuggling of illegal migrant workers?


Country Response


Ms. SIANOU said there was a strong feminist movement in Greece and the country’s women were celebrating 50 years of being able to vote.  The Constitution of 1975 provided the legal basis for gender equality policies.  It also provided protection measures for mothers.  The women’s movement had tried to change that, however, because deviations in the name of protection were often used against women. 


On equal opportunities, she said she wanted to go from legislation to every day life.  There was a big difference between making laws and implementing them in every day life.  The fact that some 61 per cent of women were graduating from universities was a clear example of the improved situation of women.  On migrant women, she said it had taken a while to become anxious about the issue mainly because Greece saw itself as an exporter of people, but the country recognized that it owed much to the economic contribution of immigrants.  The situation of migrant women was important because they suffered violence in silence.  The regions and their programmes had the responsibility of using 10 per cent of funding for gender equality in such areas.


She shared the Committee’s sensitivity on the important issue of minority women, saying different things were happening in the Muslim minority.  Some women were totally integrated and highly educated.  Programmes for literacy among minorities were being pursued and minority women were eager to be productive in the Greek economy.  While certain measures had been taken to assist them in business endeavours, much remained to be done.


Ms. KOTROTSOU said Greece had signed the Convention on Transnational Crime and Parliament would soon ratify both the Convention and its two Protocols.  Greece faced the problem of migrant smuggling and stringent penalties had been imposed against smugglers.  On programmes for the legalization of migrants, Greece had experienced massive immigration in the late 1980s.  To deal with massive immigration, Greece had established policies, including programmes for undocumented foreigners.  They applied for either a white or green card.  Some

91 per cent of those applying for white cards came from several countries and some 230,000 foreigners applied for the green card.  An overwhelming percentage of women applying for green cards were from specific countries.


CHRISTINE KAPALATA, expert from the United Republic of Tanzania, while commending accomplishments of Greece in the advancement of women’s issues, said there were small gaps in certain areas.  Regarding women’s participation in political life, quotas should also be used in the diplomatic service.  She asked whether there was an independent mechanism within KETHI to initiate research.  That body should be used as comprehensively as possible for the advancement of women.  Noting that Greece was also a transit point for drugs, she asked if there were programmes on illicit drugs specifically for women?


Expert’ Questions and Comments


Ms. KAPALATA, expert from the United Republic of Tanzania, said that although a lot had been done to promote equality, there were some gaps in substantive areas. She wished that the same approach of quotas in elections would be used in the foreign service. The lack of women there was disappointing, since women played important roles in humanitarian assistance and conflict resolution. She wanted more information on the status of KETHI. In that regard, did the Secretariat always initiate research?  How widely were the results of such research disseminated? As Greece was a transit country for illicit drugs, did programmes exist targeted to drug use among young women?


Country Response


Ms. EBOU answered that the Ministry of Health had established a separate body that was responsible for social, psychological and health support for drug addicts. That approach was carried out by social workers in the streets using the language of drug addicts. The trust being built between the social workers and the addicts had saved some lives. The mass media were helping in the issue of combating drugs. She did not know of a specific policy directed at drug use by women.


Participation in the decision-making process was a weak point. Participation by women in trade unions was completely absent, which was worrisome, as women participation in the workplace had increased and unions were involved in collective bargaining.  Regarding participation of women in the foreign service, she said the General Secretariat was trying to define its responsibility regarding its relation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Greece had women ambassadors in Romania and Georgia. The KETHI programme was a semi-public entity under the General Secretariat for Equality, but with an administrative board.


Experts’ Questions


FRANCES LIVINGSTONE RADAY, expert from Israel, asked what kind of constitutional cases had been brought on human rights and women’s rights. She also asked what kind of paternal leave could be taken, whether parental leave was independent of maternal leave, how many fathers were making use of it, and if parental leave was lost if the father did not take it.


She said sexual harassment seemed to be a particularly problematic issue, as some research indicated that 70 per cent of respondents had suffered from it. Although it could be prosecuted under other kinds of legal provisions, specific legislation concerning sexual harassment was important for raising awareness and stimulating women to come forward. Regarding domestic violence, she asked if women victims could obtain protection orders to remove the violent person from the home.


CHARLOTTE ABAKA (Ghana),Committee Chairperson, commended Greece on its cancer prevention programme, which had been put in place in 1999.  How many women had used that programme?  What types of cancer did women suffer from?  She commended Greece for the decline in the number of abortions.  She was concerned, however, that the number of abortions equaled the birth rate.  In spite of programmes available to women, why was that the case?  Some 41.7 per cent of women delivered babies through cesarean section.  Why did so many women prefer that method to natural childbirth?  Post-operative necessities would increase medical bills for women.  Were there programmes to educate women on the benefits of natural childbirth?  She also commended the Government for its programmes to combat the increasing trend in female smokers. 


After the Durban Conference, treaty bodies, including CEDAW, were mandated to follow up on the implementation of the Durban outcome, she continued.  The situation of Roma women had been highlighted by the conference.  What was their situation in Greece? 


Country Response


Ms. SIANOU said that attitudes in Greek society and culture was changing in regard to Roma women.  The culture of coexistence and respect was increasing.  That was not to say, however, that Roma women did not have problems.  The Prime Minister had an expert in his office to deal with Roma issues.  The Roma issue was a European issue and Europeans should be ashamed that the issue had not been resolved.  There was political will to improve the situation of the Roma people.  Non-governmental organizations working in the area had worked for the creation of peaceful coexistence.  The Prime Minister had a major programme under the Ministry of Labour to combat social exclusion, which included Roma women.

She said she was personally happy about the smoking programme. Smoking was prohibited in public areas.  She recognized the problem with the number of births by caesarian section.  The Government was cooperating with a union of midwives on the issue.  She was also happy with the decline in the abortion rate.  While the law permitted abortion, it was not meant to be used as a contraception method.  Family planning existed in all hospitals.  It was important to create a welfare State supportive of families.  Information and provision of contraceptives through the public health system was necessary.  The General Secretariat cooperated with two non-governmental organizations to create awareness of cancer.  There were fewer women dying of cancer.  Greek women tended to live a long time, although heart disease was a leading cause of death.


Regarding cases before the Supreme Court, she said there had been a Supreme Court decision on the use of quotas for women’s access to the police force and family allowances.   If fathers did not choose to take parental leave, the leave was not lost.  Very few men were making use of parental leave.  On the issue of sexual harassment, there had been research on the issue.  It was a serious problem in Greece, Europe and around the world. In the private sector, one could be fired, so there were consequences.  Awareness was being raised through the trade unions.  It was a trade union issue.  Labour inspectors were performing an important role in that regard. 


Ms. GASPARD, expert from France, referring to the issue of women police and firefighters, said Greek women had limited access to certain professions.  Had the law been changed regarding access to the police force?  On the rights of minority women, the Mufti named by the State could declare that women did not have equal access to inheritance.  If a woman complained that the Greek law had not been applied, could that woman prevail in court?


Ms. ABAKA of Ghana, Committee Chairperson, asked if there were training programmes to sensitize people to human rights norms.


Country Response


Ms. EBOU said lessons on human rights were included in the curriculum of the police academy.  Pilot seminars had also been organized, and those seminars would become a standard feature in the academy. The Convention, European provisions and the law of the country always prevailed over provisions regarding the Shariah. Because of action by the Supreme Court, the armed forces did not have a quota system anymore. But, such a system was still present within the police force and firefighters.


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