The material posted here was provided to the Division for the
Advancement of Women by the Government in response to a note
verbale. It has being made available in electronic format from
the form received.
AUSTRIA�S NATIONAL REPORT
ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
"PLATFORM FOR ACTION�
FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN
forwarded by the
Federal Minister for Women�s Affairs and Consumer Protection
Vienna, March 1998
A. Women and poverty..................................................................................... ||4
� A 1: Review, adopt and maintain macroeconomic policies and development strategies that address the needs and efforts of women in poverty ||4
The social situation of women in Austria ||4
Reform of marriage and divorce law ||5
Old-age provision for women ||7
� A 3: Provide women with access to savings and credit mechanisms and institutions ||9
Debt settlement procedures for private individuals ||9
� A 4: Develop gender-based methodologies and conduct research to address the feminisation of poverty ||10
The aggregate value of housework ||10
B. Education and training of women.............................................................. ||12
� B 1: Ensure equal access to education ||12
Educational data about the female population ||12
� B 3: Improve women's access to vocational training, science and technology, and continuing education ||14
Career-related educational guidance for women ||14
Educational projects as part of development cooperation ||15
� B 4: Develop non-discriminatory education and training ||15
Co-education at school ||15
Women in the teaching and science professions ||17
� B 6: Promote lifelong education and training for girls and women ||18
European Year of Lifelong Learning ||18
C. Women and health........................................................................................ ||19
� C 1: Increase women's access throughout the life cycle to appropriate, affordable and quality health care, information and related services ||19
Health from the female perspective ||19
Special counselling services for women ||20
The Women's Health Programme of the City of Vienna ||20
Women in health professions ||21
� C 2: Strengthen preventive programmes that promote women's health ||21
Health promotion and preventive health care || 21
� C 3: Undertake gender-sensitive initiatives that address sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health issues ||22
Act on Reproductive Medicine ||22
D. Violence against women.............................................................................. ||23
� D 1: Take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women ||23
Domestic violence ||23
The initiative "Counteracting Violence against Women and Children"||23
"Platform Against Domestic Violence" ||24
The "Act on Protection Against Violence" and the Intervention Agencies|| 25
25-Point Catalogue of Measures of the Federal Government ||26
Penal Law on Sexual Offences ||29
� D 2: Study the causes and consequences of violence against women and the effectiveness of preventive measures prostitution and trafficking ||30
Studies on �domestic violence� ||30
� D 3: Eliminate trafficking in women and assist victims of violence due to prostitution and trafficking ||31
Sexual exploitation of women ||31
E. Women and armed conflict.......................................................................... ||34
� E 1: Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation ||34
Women in the Austrian armed forces ||34
� E 2: Reduce excessive military expenditures and control the availability of armaments||34
Ban on anti-personnel land-mines ||34
� E 5: Provide protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women ||35
Female asylum seekers and refugees in Austria ||35
F. Women and the economy............................................................................. ||37
� F 2: Facilitate women�s equal access to resources, employment, markets and trade ||37
The situation of women in Austria as regards gainful employment ||37
Labour market policies for women ||38
Atypical employment and flexibilisation of working time from the perspective of women ||39
� F 4: Strengthen women�s economic capacity and commercial networks ||41
�Women's Business Centre� ||41
� F 5: Eliminate occupational segregation and all forms of employment discrimination ||42
Equal treatment in the civil service ||42
Equal treatment in the private sector ||43
Obligation to report ||45
Public procurement and the advancement of women|| 45
� F 6: Promote harmonisation of work and family responsibilities for women and men ||46
Protective legislation for working mothers and parental leave ||46
Additional measures designed to reconcile job and family ||48
G. Women in power and decision-making...................................................... ||50
� G 1: Take measures to ensure women�s equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making ||50
Women in public life ||50
H. Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women....................... ||52
� H 1: Create or strengthen national machineries and other governmental bodies ||52
Representing women�s interests at government level ||52
I. Human rights of women................................................................................|| 53
� I 1: Promote and protect the human rights of women, through the full implementation of all human rights instruments, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ||53
Austria�s international commitments ||53
Austria's involvement in development cooperation ||57
� I 2: Ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice ||59
The principle of equality in the Austrian legal system ||59
J. Women and the media.................................................................................. ||61
� J 1: Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication ||61
Women in the Austrian media and culture industries ||61
� J 2: Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media ||62
The Austrian Advertising Council ||62
K. Women and the environment....................................................................... ||63
� K 2: Integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes for sustainable development ||63
"Lom� 2000" reflection paper ||63
L. The girl-child................................................................................................. ||64
� L 1: Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl-child || 64
Administration of criminal law relating to young offenders ||64
International resolutions on the protection of the girl-child ||64
� L 4: Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training ||65
Training and vocational training guidance for girls ||65
� L 7: Eradicate violence against the girl-child ||65
Domestic violence / sexual violence against girls ||65
Austria supports the full implementation, at the national and the international level, of the international resolutions and programmes targeted at the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of life and of society, and advocates their translation into the national systems as well as into the UN system. Mainstreaming the gender perspective is the only way to reveal the structural obstacles impeding the active participation of women in all spheres of public and private life. Austria welcomes the position taken in favour of mainstreaming women-specific matters and will continue to uphold it at the national and the international level.
Subsequent to the adoption of the Declaration and the Platform for Action of the Beijing World Conference on Women in 1995, the Federal Minister responsible for women's issues convened an international conference entitled "Beyond Beijing" in Vienna, in December 1995. The purpose of this conference, attended by women from the USA, Western and Eastern Europe and Third World countries, was to discuss the outcome of the Beijing World Conference on Women and the action programmes. Deliberations were focused in particular on national strategies for the implementation of the Beijing demands and on ways and means of international cooperation.
The outcome and the Platform for Action of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women as well as follow-up activities to the world conference were published, and thus made accessible to the interested public, in a series issued by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues, under the title "Frauenpolitische Perspektiven nach der Weltfrauenkonferenz '95" (Perspectives on Women-Related Policies after the '95 World Conference on Women).
In October 1997, the meeting "Frauengezeiten - Peking Far Away" (The Tides of Women - Beijing Far Away) was held under the auspices of the responsible Federal Ministries and of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection. Its purpose was to review the progress made in implementing the outcome of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women. At this meeting, the participants took stock of the measures taken and the programmes launched in Austria in the preceding two years to meet the demands of the Platform for Action, and discussed future measures and strategies. One of the key results of the meeting was a resolution on the drafting of a national plan of action.
Austria considers the growing presence of women in public life a decisive factor in the lasting achievement of the aims laid down in the Platform for Action of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women. At the national level, women's interests are currently voiced in all the relevant political and societal discussion fora, and women join forces to achieve their full and equal participation in law and in fact. In this context, increasing attention has been paid in recent years to removing the practical obstacles on the road to the full and equal participation of women in all the institutions of civil society.
The Austrian legal and social system, which is largely rooted in typically male life contexts, has found no truly satisfactory remedies for the indirect discrimination against women which arises from the context of their lives. This problem is being addressed by a multitude of countervailing measures in the judicial and socio-political fields.
The measures Austria has taken during the period under review and will take in future to implement the demands laid down in the Platform for Action of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women for the full participation of women on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, include in particular:
- The creation of a statutory framework for the promotion of the equality of women and men in all spheres of life;
LI> The maintenance and creation of jobs for women by the purposeful development of labour-market policies which promote women; designing special support measures for women who re-enter the labour market after a career break or after periods of unemployment;
- Measures encouraging the diversification of occupational choices for women and the upskilling of women with the aim of increasing their numbers in leading positions in politics, business, administration, science and other important spheres of society;
- Guaranteeing the compatibility of career and family, especially by increased flexibility in working life, by providing sufficient child-care facilities or by stronger advocacy of the sharing of reproductive work;
- Improvement in the statutory provisions for the social security of older women by giving more weight to specifically female life cycles in fixing retirement pay;
- Providing for the basic material and non-material needs of women and their children, no matter whether the women are single, married or divorced;
- Measures to prevent violence and to help victims of violence, in particular by information and counselling and by providing facilities for women and children who are threatened by violence or are victims of violence.
Notwithstanding the clearly visible trend towards the consolidation of social achievements in Europe since the mid-90s, Austria remains committed to safeguarding the opportunities for women to participate socially and materially in all spheres of life. Even in a changed economic, political and societal environment, Austria will remain committed to maintaining social peace also by harmonising gender relations and will consider it a priority task to ensure the effective and equal participation of both sexes in upholding the values and pursuing the aims of its society.
Federal Minister for Women�s Affairs
and Consumer Protection
A. Women and poverty
A 1: Review, adopt and maintain macroeconomic policies and development strategies that address the needs and efforts of women in poverty
The social situation of women in Austria
In Austria, one of the most frequent causes of poverty or the threat of poverty among women is the lack of economic independence. This may be due to the absence or insufficiency of vocational training, to the prolonged interruption of productive employment upon marriage or because of family obligations, to the high percentage of women working in low-wage sectors or in types of employment lacking cover under social insurance law, and to the high number of divorces which often leave older women without sufficient maintenance. As a result, women are in general hit harder by poverty than men, and the "feminisation of poverty" is a phenomenon also to be observed in Austria.
According to the evaluation of the Austrian Central Office of Statistics (�STAT) for 1994, and according to the report issued by the Federal Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs on the social situation in Austria in 1996 (Vienna 1997), a monthly per-capita income of ATS 7.500,- marked the poverty line for Austrian households. According to the household panel of 1994, approximately 13.5% of the Austrian population lived in households with monthly per-capita incomes below this level, which was a good 10% of all Austrian households. It can be assumed that 5% of the Austrian population or 4 % of Austrian households live in acute poverty.
Households become more severely affected by poverty as the number of children increases, especially in combination with diminished chances of gainful employment for the mothers. Whereas the labour force participation rate of women in the employable age group is 62%, it is 50% in families with two children and only 35% in families with 3 or more children. In households with 3 or more children and a single breadwinner, the poverty rate is 14%.
Overall, 12% of single-parent households live below the poverty line. Despite the high employment participation rate, only 57% of such households draw a regular income from gainful employment. All the others live on maintenance payments or various welfare benefits (maternity benefit, unemployment benefit,...). Half of all single parents have no income at all from gainful employment, or their income is less than ATS 6,000.- a month. Transfer payments under the social welfare system consequently constitute a major contribution to the household income. For the bottom quarter of single-parent households, welfare benefits account for 85% of the household income; for the next-higher bracket the share of welfare benefits amounts to 52%.
In order to remove possible poverty traps and to promote the economic independence of women, Austria has launched a multifactorial package of measures with the emphases on the educational sector, in order to diversify the educational and occupational choices of girls and young women (Chapter B), and on the labour market sector (Chapter F), with a view, in particular, to the re-integration of women after prolonged absence from remunerated employment. Further measures for improving the economic situation of women were taken in the fields of marriage and social security legislation.
Reform of marriage and divorce law
Together with the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Youth and Family Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Justice is preparing a reform of the marriage and divorce law and of legal effects of marriage as regards divorce. The following points are under discussion:
- Repeal of the statutory obligation of husband or wife to assist their spouse in his/her occupation.
If such assistance is rendered, provision should be made for the husband or wife assisting a spouse in their occupation to receive performance-related remuneration and full social-security cover.
- Emphasising the principle of partnership in marriage by adopting the express provision that spouses should share equitably the responsibilities for household welfare, taking into account the amount of both remunerated and non-remunerated work.
- Establishing by law that married life is to be perceived as a dynamic process which has to respond to the changing circumstances or interests of the spouses.
This should, in particular, give women the opportunity to re-enter working life after having "voluntarily" forgone gainful employment for a number of years, without having such a step interpreted in divorce proceedings as neglect of household duties.
- Transformation of maintenance claims in existing marriages from maintenance in kind to maintenance in cash, upon request of the entitled spouse.
In 1996, the overall divorce rate in Austria was 38%. Approximately one fifth of the women affected by divorce in 1996 were housewives without an income or property of their own. These women are, therefore, largely dependent on maintenance payments and/or continued social security cover.
Austria's divorce law is based essentially on the so-called principle of "guilt or breakdown". The question of guilt is a subsidiary question when deciding on maintenance claims. Under the prevailing law the party found guilty or equally guilty in divorce proceedings cannot claim maintenance (except maintenance on grounds of equity).
The revision of the divorce law, which is currently under discussion, is aimed at reducing the weight of the "guilt principle" in the law on financial provision for spouses and at orienting post-marital maintenance towards balancing the opportunities and interests of the divorced parties, taking into account their economic potential.
90% of all divorces in Austria are divorces by mutual consent, based on a divorce settlement in court. The divorce settlement regulates the relations between the divorced couple under maintenance and property law as well as custody of, right of access to and maintenance obligations towards the children of the marriage.
It is a fact, however, that in divorces by mutual consent the weaker party - usually the wife - waives certain rights, often out of ignorance or under pressure, or agrees to an unfavourable settlement.
For this reason a pilot project entitled "Family Counselling in Court" was launched in 1994 at two Austrian courts with the support of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Youth and Family Affairs. The purpose of the project was to find out, whether it would be meaningful to have the information about their legal situation which was normally supplied to the parties by a judge provided in confidential counselling sessions on matters relating to family law, in which the interests of the parties are given careful consideration. Owing to the largely positive results, independent counselling centres are being set up at a growing number of family courts (currently 35).
The Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Justice also launched another pilot project, entitled "Mediation", to support the weaker party in disputes under family law. The purpose is to test new, more problem-oriented and effective ways of regulating and dealing with the consequences of divorce and to subject them to systematic scientific study. Mediation precedes divorce proceedings in court and is conceived as psychosocial and legal support by experts for couples seeking divorce. It provides them with an opportunity to arrive at a consensual settlement of their legal and economic affairs on a voluntary basis and free from pressure.
Old-age provision for women
The Austrian social security system is focused on remunerated employment and marriage.
Since the acquisition of entitlements to sufficient benefits depends largely on the opportunities of participating in the labour market, and since the remunerated employment of women is frequently interrupted due to the multiple burdens imposed on them by remunerated and non-remunerated work, the remunerated-employment approach to social security cover offers women only a limited chance of providing for their old age.
This is why women largely depend on derived entitlements (widow's pensions), which are inseparably linked with the institution of marriage. However, the high divorce rates and the growing number of alternative life-styles are, to an increasing extent, depriving marriage of its benefits in terms of maintenance and provision for old age.
In 1995, only 37% of women above 60, but 90% of men above that age had their own pensions; 24% of women but 0.3% of men had derived pension entitlements (widow's or widower's pensions); 20% of women, but only 3% of men drew 2 pensions. 17% of women were without any entitlement, most of them married with entitlements to widow's pensions upon the death of their husbands. 2% of women but 6% of men were still gainfully employed. In 1994, almost 40% of women above 60 were entitled to retirement benefits of less than ATS 7,500.-.
For this reason, the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection has made the implementation of measures designed to ensure better protection of women under the pension insurance law one of her priorities. In 1996, she commissioned a study on "New Ways of Independent Old Age Provision for Women". Taking into account the female life context, different pension models were computed for women, and ways in which they might be implemented were worked out.
According to these models, an independent livelihood will be guaranteed only if everyone, upon reaching the statutory retirement age, receives his/her own pension amounting to at least enough for a single person to live on. The reform model favoured by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues is based on the principle of mandatory insurance and thus on the established Austrian pension insurance system. In principle it provides for individual pension accounts into which everybody, including persons without gainful employment, will have to pay regular contributions. Under the model in question, the contributions for persons without gainful employment are to be paid by third parties, such as the spouse, the cohabitant or the state, without prejudice to the pensions of people in (uninterrupted) gainful employment. The objective is to secure long-term provision of pensions for women and men, while maintaining solidarity between the generations having regard to re-distribution aspects and an improved targeting of welfare benefits.
The pension reform adopted by the Federal Government in 1997, pursues, inter alia, the aim of adjusting women's pensions, which are usually lower than the comparable pensions of men:
- Credit for child-rearing periods, introduced in Austria in 1993 to narrow the gaps in women's insurance cover, will be upgraded as of the year 2000.
- To ease the burden on women who, in addition to a job and household duties are responsible for family members in need of special care, persons - as a rule women - who give up their jobs in order to care for seriously disabled relatives will be offered continued insurance cover at a reasonable cost.
- Moreover, almost all the forms of employment previously not covered by statutory social insurance are now included in it; this applies, inter alia, to so-called "negligible employment" (see Chapter F 2). For women, who make up the majority of the negligibly employed, this means for the first time an old-age insurance of their own.
A 3: Provide women with access to savings and credit mechanisms and institutions
Debt settlement procedures for private individuals
The provision of collateral by spouses for bank loans taken out by their married partners - which is permitted under Austrian civil law - has proved to be a specific poverty trap for women. Women who have neither income nor property and in many cases give loan guarantees without being aware of the legal consequences or in the expectation that their marriage will endure, are particularly liable to get hopelessly into debt when the guarantee is invoked.
The 1993 Amendment of the Bankruptcy Act introduced a more flexible debt-settlement procedure for non-entrepreneurs. This procedure, which envisages residual debt remission for seriously indebted private individuals after a certain period of time or upon payment of a minimum percentage of the debt, is expected to provide the possibility of debt relief in particular for women who have neither income nor property. However, initial experience has shown that especially women at risk of falling into poverty are more often than not unable to meet the conditions for application.
Under an Amendment of the Consumer Protection Act in 1997, judges were, therefore, granted the right to facilitate debt relief in cases of personally guaranteed loan contracts, to offer women without income or property a way out of the indebtedness entered into on behalf of their husbands.
A 4: Develop gender-based methodologies and conduct research to address the feminisation of poverty
The aggregate value of housework
In Austria, women do about 80% of the reproductive work. Since a country's economic performance is measured with international indicators based on the market prices of goods and services, this work is left out of consideration. The actual contribution of women to the overall economic performance of a country thus remains invisible.
from time-budget surveys conducted in the Austrian families, the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs has made special efforts to make this part of women's contribution to the national economy visible. Models for the assessment of the aggregate value of reproductive work were commissioned. The results and the political implications to be derived from them were presented and discussed at the end of 1995 at a study session on "The Aggregate Value of Housework" organised by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs. A publication was issued subsequent to the study session.
According to a computation of the Gross Domestic Product "augmented" by the non-remunerated reproductive work, which was performed by the Austrian Central Office of Statistics (�STAT), the share of women was between 45 and 55%, depending on the computational formula. The official Gross Domestic Product for women was 22%.
B. Education and training of women
Considering the outstanding importance of educational qualifications and the training of the female population with a view to gainful employment, upward mobility and self-sufficiency, special attention has been paid in educational planning and school development to equal access for and the advancement of girls and young women.
B 1: Ensure equal access to education
Educational data about the female population
Although women have made up for lost ground in the field of education during the past 25 years, there are still substantial gender-specific disparities.
The table below shows the percentage shares of women and men in relation to the highest level of educational attainment:
Highest level of educational attainment (in %)
Compulsory schools Apprenticeships Technical schools Higher schools Schools with
Women ||44,5 ||24,7 ||12,4 ||13,2 ||1,9 ||3,3
Men ||27,9 ||43,5 ||7 ||13,8 ||1,3 ||6,4
Source: "Microcensus� Annual Results 1996"
The percentage of women who have received no education beyond compulsory school is higher in all the age groups than the comparable percentage of men. This applies also to young women, although in the younger generation rather more women than men have gained an advanced school-leaving certificate and almost 47% of all the students enrolled at Austria's universities are women (1997). In the younger generation the gap between well educated and trained women and women who have no vocational credentials beyond compulsory school is widening.
The education and career choice of girls and young women is still frequently determined by gender-specific principles and notions: Although all the trades requiring an apprenticeship are open to them, 60% of all female apprentices are concentrated in 3 such trades (retail saleswoman, hairdresser and wigmaker, trained clerical help). The percentage of women at the different types of medium and higher-level secondary schools reflects the same educational orientation: According to the Austrian school statistics of 1996/97, the percentage share of girls at medium-level business schools was 64%, at medium-level schools for domestic science occupations 95%, at industrial, trade and crafts colleges 22%, at higher-level business schools 60%, at higher-level domestic science schools 94%, and at higher-level industrial, trade and crafts schools 20%. At higher-level academic schools girls account for 54%.
Since the choice of a specific educational institution offering secondary education is, not in form but in fact, tantamount to a preliminary decision on the further educational career, the gender-specific educational choice is perpetuated at colleges for higher professional training and at universities. Colleges for higher professional training were established in 1994 as practice-oriented, alternative institutions in the tertiary education sector. In 1996/97 the percentage of newly enrolled female students at institutions offering technical programmes was 8%. The average new enrolment of female students in all the programmes offered by such institutions was 27%. At universities, on the other hand, women currently account for 53% of new entrants. Somewhat less than 45% of all university graduates are women, but the percentage of female graduates from technical fields of study is often below 5%. Despite a growth rate for women which is double that for men, the percentage of female university graduates (2.6%) is only half that of men (5.5%).
B 3: Improve women's access to vocational training, science and technology, and continuing education
Career-related educational guidance for women
In order to counteract, as effectively and as early as possible, segregation in education and consequently in the labour market (as described in B 1), the Austrian government has launched a number of initiatives. These draw the attention of girls and of their parents to secondary and tertiary educational and vocational training avenues outside the usual field of "female occupations and professions", and encourage girls to opt for such careers.
Through career counselling by the Austrian Public Employment Service, through information campaigns and through cooperation with schools and universities, girls are encouraged to test their science and technology skills at career guidance events and to opt for science and technology-oriented training programmes. In addition, gender-based role stereotyping is called into question and an attempt is made to weaken the ingrained notion that technology is a male domain by taking an interdisciplinary approach.
In order better to counteract the problems of gender-based education and career choice, the Austrian Public Employment Service is stepping up the provision of counselling specifically for girls, of regional counselling centres for girls, especially in rural areas, and of career guidance and preparation in the field of technical trades.
At the beginning of 1998, the Austrian Public Employment Service, the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection, the Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs joined forces in following up the drive "There is more to daughters than you think", and issued a completely revised edition of the publication "There is more to girls than you think". This brochure is designed to supply girls who have to choose an educational path and a career with detailed information about the ways, means and opportunities currently open to them in non-gender-specific fields and promising occupations as well as about the specific occupational environments.
At the European level, Austria participates actively in programmes and projects encouraging the cooperation and networking of actors in the fields of equality-oriented education, career guidance, career counselling and information on education.
A case in point is the "Fem-Training-Net - Girls' and Women's Education Network", a programme supported by the Federal Ministry of Education: After a survey of supply and demand in the field of gender-sensitive career guidance at institutions providing initial and further training as well as counselling, a network is to be established for information input, exchange and retrieval as well as for contacts at the regional, national and international level.
Educational projects as part of development cooperation
In a clause introduced by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for Austria's development cooperation, into the 1996-1998 three-year programme, priority is given to the practical and strategic interests of women and to a gender-specific approach when addressing the overall situation in individual countries and in project work.
The women-related projects supported under the Austrian development cooperation programme belong primarily to the field of initial and further training. Their aim is to make women and their perspectives and attitudes an integral part of any given society, thus promoting the development of civil society.
B 4: Develop non-discriminatory education and training
Co-education at school
Co-education is one of the central issues in promoting girls within the school and education system. In the 80s and 90s, when co-education was introduced at all stages of education and in all types of school, ancillary studies showed that complete gender integration in the classroom called for additional sensitisation measures, not least among the teachers.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs has chosen a multilateral approach, laid down in the Action Plan 2000 (99 measures for the promotion of equality in schools and adult education), whereby the perspectives and aspirations of girls are to be increasingly incorporated in day-to-day class work and new opportunities for self-identification are to be offered.
Measures include, in particular:
- Supporting and publicising school projects which address the gender-specific situation in school and class, enable an exchange of experience on gender-sensitive school projects and ensure the dissemination of results.
- Promoting "purposeful co-education" in schools and taking account of "equal opportunities for girls/boys and women/men � gender democracy" as a criterion in the evaluation of the quality of schools and class work..
- Introduction of the integral educational principle "education aimed at the equal treatment of women and men".
- Sensitising the teaching staff to an awareness of situations which may impede gender integration and promoting work with boys.
- Appointing liaison teachers.
- Developing girls-only programmes with built-in methodological studies and working with girls to foster their self-confidence.
- Sifting teaching material for statements communicating role stereotypes and gender-specific notions; adding teaching material in which the outstanding achievements of women are underlined; involving women in non-traditional occupations in class work, in order to weaken traditional role images.
Moreover, new paths of co-education are being pursued in several ongoing school projects which have been designed to take special account of the needs and the development potential of girls:
- At an academic secondary school where a girls' class was re-introduced for trial purposes and relevant support measures were taken, the girls taught in this class acted more self-confidently and voiced their interests and opinions more often than girls in gender-integrated classes.
- Similar results were obtained in a project run at another academic secondary school, where, in one class, work was organised partly on a co-educative and partly on a gender-homogeneous basis. However, it also transpired that initially segregation led to polarisation and to an exacerbation of the gender conflict, and that work with boys was as important as work with girls
- When partly co-educative, partly gender-homogeneous classes are headed by a team of class teachers (a woman as class teacher, a man as co-class teacher) who work out parallel activities for girls and boys and formulate pertinent objectives, co-educative teaching resulted in increased self-confidence of both genders and more sensitivity in their interaction.
The objective of co-education has also been set for the individual subjects: In 1993, the differentiation of handicraft teaching according to gender (textile handicraft for girls; technical handicraft for boys) was abolished in the 5th and 6th grades. Irrespective of the fact that pupils have since been free to choose either of the handicraft programmes, the choice is, in practice, largely based on the gender of the child. This perpetuation of gender roles is to be counteracted, in particular, by information on the way such programmes are actually organised and on their objectives.
Women in the teaching and science professions
60% of teachers are women; whereas at primary and special schools 80% of the teaching staff are women, and at general and academic secondary schools women account for 60% of the staff, the percentage of women among the teaching staff at universities and art colleges is less than 7%. The percentage of female junior lecturers is 22%.
1997 marked the centenary of university education for women in Austria. The Federal Ministry of Science and Transport used the occasion to draw up a catalogue of measures promoting equal treatment and the advancement of women in the tertiary educational sector up to the year 2000.
In order to improve the chances of women in the scientific community and to increase their percentage among the teaching staff at Austria's universities and schools with university status, "Policy-relevant University Research: Women in Science and Research" was made a priority area with the aim of coordinating and pooling projects and initiatives.
By means of a specific scholarship and project-promotion scheme for the acquisition of higher qualifications by young women scientists, women are to be encouraged to opt for scientific careers.
For university institutes wishing to promote the integration of qualified women scientists, additional resources are to be made available, as of 1998, through the so-called "Herta Firnberg Centres".
B 6: Promote lifelong education and training for girls and women
European Year of Lifelong Learning
To mark the European Year of Lifelong Learning (1996), Austria took a number of initiatives addressed to specific target groups. These groups included persons responsible for academic and vocational training, youth organisations, women and older people as well as persons concerned with equality of opportunity.
The measures taken were primarily designed to motivate the target groups to participate in lifelong learning schemes, to sensitise them to the importance of initial and further academic and vocational training with a view to competitiveness and to encourage better cooperation between educational institutions and the business community.
C. Women and health
C 1: Increase women's access throughout the life cycle to appropriate, affordable and quality health care, information and related services
Health from the female perspective
Women's approach to health is different from that of men, and they frequently have different health problems from men. Women consult a doctor more often than men do and their assessment of their own health is worse than men's. In contrast with this self-assessment, women take less sick leave and are absent from work for shorter periods than men.
Women in productive employment have a more positive view of their state of health than persons occupied exclusively with household work. The positive impact on health of paid work and the related power to dispose of one's own money, more decision-making power, partial independence of one's partner, better chances of planning one's life, a feeling of security with respect to one's old age, etc. is put into perspective, however, by the multiple burden borne by working women.
Women mostly perceive their mental well-being as worse than their physical health. The five most frequent factors which impair women's well-being are: health problems, financial difficulties, loneliness (especially among housewives and elderly women), the multiple burden of family and job, as well as sleeping disorders. The consumption of medicines, including in particular psychotropic drugs (sleeping pills and tranquillisers, painkillers) is declining, although women of all age groups still consume by far more medicines than men.
Very often women feel that their specific health problems are not taken seriously by male doctors. Increased sensitisation of doctors to the specific health problems of women is, therefore, a clear future priority.
Special counselling services for women
In recent years, more women-oriented services (e.g. women's health centres, menopause and hormone clinics) have been provided as a result of women's initiatives and the adoption of international health-policy guidelines. Consequently, more attention has been paid to the strains to which women in particular are exposed and to the needs of individual groups (girls, women during menopause, foreign women).
In addition, the network of family counselling centres funded by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs was further extended. Currently, 306 family counselling centres are funded in all parts of Austria. Counselling at these centres is free and anonymous and, depending on requirements, is provided by doctors, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family counsellors, and lawyers.
For 1998, the funds for the family counselling centres have been increased to 110 million Schilling. The extra funds are to be focused on counselling in the areas of violence against women and children, pregnancy, family planning and divorce-related conflicts.
The Women's Health Programme of the City of Vienna
The women's health programme of the City of Vienna with its gender-specific priorities could serve as a model for an Austrian health policy for women. Implementation of the programme will start in 1998.
The objective is to enhance sensitivity to specifically female health problems by including existing health structures into the programme. The projects covered by the programme include, inter alia, training of medical staff how to deal with victims of violence; the production of manuals for women-specific medical care; the setting up of wards for women with gestational psychosis; better care for women suffering from incontinence, and measures for improving the health of older women.
Women in health professions
The health professions, in particular nursing, are a female domain. Approximately 80% of nursing staff are women. At the beginning of 1998, women physicians accounted for almost 35% of the persons in this profession. Among general practitioners, women account for 38%, among specialists for 27%. The percentage share of women in the individual groups of specialists varies: among gynecologists it is 18%. Since women currently account for 50% of all doctors in training, a further increase of the share of women among doctors is to be expected.
When devising programmes and measures for the further training and support of persons active in the health sector, in health promotion and preventive health care more attention will have to be given to tailoring them to women's needs. Since women frequently have to nurse family members without having any training, programmes designed to relieve them of part of this burden and to professionalise their work will be required.
C 2: Strengthen preventive programmes that promote women's health
Health promotion and preventive health care
Austria has chosen innovative ways of stimulating health promotion and of encouraging a paradigm shift from curative to preventive medicine. A pertinent bill is currently deliberated. In planning and implementing these measures and programmes, more account will have to be taken of the special situation and gender-specific life-cycles of women, and more attention will have to be paid to the establishment, development and networking of health-services with a women-specific bias.
C 3: Undertake gender-sensitive initiatives that address sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health issues
Act on Reproductive Medicine
Since 1992, artificial fertilisation is strictly regulated in Austria by the Law on Reproductive Medicine. On the one hand, the wish of childless couples for their own offspring is to be met, taking into account all the relevant medical and ethical aspects as well as those of family law; on the other hand, certain forms of medically assisted reproduction, such as surrogacy and the donation of egg cells, are banned in the interest of the dignity of women.
D. Violence against women
D 1: Take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women
Prompted by an initiative of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues, the phenomenon of "domestic violence" was first submitted to a broad public discussion and reflection process in the early 90s. This initiative had been preceded, in the mid-80s, by a number of measures taken by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs to rouse public awareness: the publication of a study, in 1984, on "Violence against Women / Violence against Children", a study session on "Domestic Violence" and the "Letters to Parents", issued since 1986 to promote violence-free education.
In the course of this process, the population was sensitised to the subject by means of information campaigns; in addition, all groups professionally involved in the problem of domestic violence against women and children, such as teachers, psychologists, social workers, police officers, judges, and members of the medical professions, were addressed at the national and regional level.
The initiative "Counteracting Violence against Women and Children"
At the request and with the financial support of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues a comprehensive, modular information kit "Counteracting Violence Against Women and Children" was produced in 1993. It was distributed free of charge to various occupational and professional groups as well as to institutions devoted to combatting violence and alleviating the consequences of violence against women and children, so that standardised material was available, for the first time, throughout Austria. In 1998, this material will be issued in an updated and revised version.
The above-mentioned material gives an overview of the theoretical knowledge about the causes, consequences and mechanisms of domestic violence and supplies useful practical information on how to identify and cope with violence, how to address the phenomenon responsibly and how to deal with both victims and perpetrators. In addition, it gives information about anti-violence contact points.
The Federal Minister for Women's Issues has also funded practice-oriented further training seminars for specific occupational and professional groups. The purpose of these seminars, which have been run since 1996, is to impart theoretical and practical knowledge about the causes and consequences of violence, to sensitise participants to the special problems of the women and children concerned, to teach them crisis intervention strategies and conversation skills and how to broaden their own scope of action. In 1997, a number of additional interdisciplinary seminars were organised for the exchange of opinions and increased cooperation among the individual occupational and professional groups.
Training courses for police personnel on how to deal with situations of domestic violence were first held in 1988/89, funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. In 1993, these programmes, which had been run as pilot projects, were integrated into the initial training of police cadets in Vienna. Since 1995, two-day seminars on the issue of domestic violence have been a mandatory part of the initial training of police personnel throughout Austria.
"Platform Against Domestic Violence"
The "Platform Against Domestic Violence", set up in 1993 by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Youth and Family Affairs, has made it its task to pass vital information "from grass-roots counselling services" on to all the occupational and professional groups confronted with domestic violence and to network these groups at the regional level to ensure best possible care for the victims of violence. The platform is also expected to help reinforce within the society and within families
values, such as protecting the weak� interacting in a spirit of partnership and respecting the physical and mental integrity of others
The "Platform" consists of over 20 institutions looking back on years of experience (child protection centres, homes for battered women� youth centres, associations of senior citizens), which are engaged in a permanent exchange and involved in pioneering models for combatting violence. Moreover, they act as networking points for diverse institutions (courts, youth welfare authorities, hospitals) within individual regions.
The "Act on Protection Against Violence" and the Intervention Agencies
After intensive public discussion, the Federal Ministry of the Interior took a decisive step against domestic violence, and in particular violence against women, by launching the Federal Act on Protection Against Domestic Violence, which entered into force on May 1, 1997. The Act provides for an exclusion or an "out-of-bounds" order to be issued by the police against persons likely to commit domestic violence. It is also possible to obtain an interim injunction under family law. For the first time, support measures have been devised to ensure the effective cooperation between the police and the civil courts as well as intensive cooperation with private victim-protection organisations.
On the initiative of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues the first intervention agency against domestic violence was set up in Graz in 1996. Moreover, the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection together with the Federal Ministry of the Interior launched and funded the long-term establishment of a nationwide service structure. A second intervention agency was set up in Vienna, in January 1998, and there are plans for three further agencies to be opened before the end of 1998. A principal task of the intervention agencies will be to act as pivotal and networking points for all the institutions dealing with domestic violence.
Early in 1997, an advisory council for fundamental issues of violence prevention was set up at the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The council consists of representatives of the ministries concerned and of NGOs; it has the task to advise the Federal Minister on programmes for violence prevention and on the development of general strategies for more effective cooperation between the police authorities and the organisations for the protection of victims.
25-Point Catalogue of Measures of the Federal Government
In September 1997, the Federal Government, on the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs, drew up a 25-point action plan for the consolidation and further development of previous measures and programmes for combatting violence against women and children. The main items in this catalogue of measures are as follows:
- Expanding the services for the protection of victims:
Setting up intervention agencies against violence and for the counselling of victims, helping them to make use of services offered by the authorities and supporting them during court proceedings;
Immediate help and social support for minors exposed to violence by extending the system of child protection and crisis centres, by providing psychological counselling services for children and young persons, by housing them in shared flats under the care of teachers trained in remedial education, by providing rehabilitation facilities and places where they can receive therapy;
Nationwide provision of tailor-made women and family counselling centres, emergency telephone numbers and homes for battered women;
Setting up central reporting points for abuse in the youth welfare authorities;
Producing a catalogue of symptoms, with a systematic description of social, psychological and physical features indicative of child abuse, sexual abuse or neglect;
Devising a curriculum for the further training of medical personnel;
Optimising statutory mandates on action to be taken (requirement of confidentiality, duty to report an offence, authority to report an offence) by different professional groups confronted with violence;
Giving support throughout criminal proceedings to children and the persons with whom they have a relationship of trust;
- Working with offenders:
Developing and promoting offender-related measures against violence and setting up special "anti-violence centres";
Drafting programmes and pilot projects for conflict training and "anti-violence training" for persons inclined to violence.
- Penal law on sexual offences, trafficking in human beings, weapons law:
Reviewing the severity of punishment and the statutes of limitation to match the special ignominy of offences against the mental, physical and sexual integrity of children and minors;
Devising programmes for the protection of victims of trafficking in human beings and setting up counselling services and victim protection centres;
Limiting the sale of certain weapons, imposing stricter conditions on the purchase and ownership of weapons, stepping up checks on the reliability of weapon owners (also with respect to the safe keeping of weapons).
- Training and research
Promoting methods and models of non-violent education in the field of "parent education":
Intensifying the training of police personnel, public prosecutors, judges, teachers, social workers, nursery-school teachers, therapists, experts in leisure and social education;
Reviewing the effects of the "Act Against Violence", by employing methods of empirical social research and drawing on national and international experience in dealing with offenders and persons inclined to violence.
- Sensitisation and networking:
Public anti-violence information campaigns;
Reinforcing the networking of governmental and non-governmental agencies involved in prevention, intervention and post-intervention at the regional, national and international level.
- Violence in the media:
Promoting non-violent and educationally valuable computer and video games and limiting the dissemination in the mass media and through computer and video games of illustrations, texts and games which are violent or incite to violence;
Pushing for the voluntary self-restriction of media professionals, producers, distributors, Internet providers at the national and international level;
Initiating the drafting of a European or international "Convention for the Promotion of Media Culture and for the Protection of Children and Young Persons Against Injurious Media Programmes";
Obliging Internet providers to keep their networks free of injurious content, for instance child pornography;
Advertising the reporting point set up at the Ministry of the Interior to deal with reports of injurious content on the Internet.
The advisory council for the prevention of violence has undertaken to monitor the implementation of these measures.
Penal Law on Sexual Offences
Since the autumn of 1996, all the ministries concerned as well as experts from the fields of medicine and psychology, have worked on a reform of the Penal Law on Sexual Offences under the guidance of
the Federal Ministry of Justice. The aim is to modify the partly outdated facts constituting an offence and to strike a balance between the need for the prosecution and punishment of certain behaviour patterns and the right of individuals to determine their own sex life.
The Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1993 already ensured that the particular mental stress to which victims are exposed when giving evidence in criminal proceedings is taken into consideration. The victim is entitled to demand that a person enjoying her/his confidence be present during questioning or that the public be excluded; in special cases evidence can be given in a separate room.
The Amendment of the Penal Law of 1996 stipulates that in penal proceedings on sexual offences the list of lay judges or the jury - according to the type of court - has to include a certain number of persons of the same sex as the victim. This is intended to minimise the distress caused to the victims of sexual offences by being questioned in court and to enable more account to be taken of gender-specific perspectives.
Austria is, moreover, committed to the protection of children and young persons affected by sex tourism in poorer countries. Under the 1996 Amendment of the Penal Law, sexual offences committed against children and young persons abroad can be punished in accordance with the Austrian law, irrespective of the lex loci delicti, if the perpetrator is an Austrian national and is ordinarily resident in Austria.
The growing socio-ethical disapprobation of the sexual exploitation of children was reflected in an extension of the statutory range of punishment for the production and/or dissemination of pornography involving minors. There are also plans to guarantee criminal prosecution in cases of sexual abuse of children by delaying the commencement of statutes of limitation to the time when the victims reach majority.
D 2: Study the causes and consequences of violence against women and the effectiveness of preventive measures
Studies on "domestic violence"
So far, the phenomenon of "domestic violence" and the response of official institutions to violence in the family has been insufficiently researched in statistical and empirical terms. The question whether violence against women has increased or decreased in the past years and decades must, therefore, be left unanswered. The extent of violence against women is still frequently underestimated. According to studies, every fifth woman in Austria has already experienced physical violence in a relationship with the opposite sex. The number of unreported cases is high. The authors of pertinent studies estimate that there are between five and ten unreported cases of violence against women to every reported case.
In connection with the Act on Protection Against Violence (see Chapter D 1), which entered into force in 1997, the Federal Ministry of the Interior commissioned a broadly based study which, by the end of 1998, will provide first insight into the impact of the new powers of law enforcement personnel to issue exclusion or "out-of-bounds" orders. The information will be based on statistical material and on reports from law enforcement officers and victims. The study will also include a first analysis of the interaction between the individual actors (police authorities, courts, intervention agencies and, where applicable, youth welfare authorities).
A number of studies, largely supported with public funds, were published between the beginning and the middle of the 90s.These studies addressed the causes and motives of violence, the definition and identification of violence as an integral part of dominance relationships between the sexes and the context of violence and its typology. It provides a sound scientific basis for dealing with the issue of "violence against women and children" in Austria.
D 3: Eliminate trafficking in women and assist victims of violence due to prostitution and trafficking
Sexual exploitation of women
In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the persistent fight against the sexual exploitation of women. Interest was roused not least by external factors resulting from the geographical situation of Austria and its function as a transit country after the fall of the iron curtain.
In 1996, the agenda and the results of the international meeting "Women Migrants in the Sex Industry" were summarised in a report on the situation of migrant women in Austria who had become victims of trafficking in women. This report was published as part of a series issued by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues. In December 1997, a seminar also on the issue of trafficking in women was
organised by the Federal Ministry of the Interior with the support of the Commission of the European Union.
Moreover, Austria has professed its commitment to combatting trafficking in women and the sexual abuse of women in the international context: on the one hand, by hosting and organising the EU-conference "Trafficking in Women for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation" in 1996, on the other hand, by participating in the EU Conference of Ministers in The Hague in 1997, which adopted an EU action plan for combatting trafficking in women (The Hague Ministerial Declaration on European Guidelines For Effective Measures To Prevent And Combat Trafficking In Women For the Purpose Of Sexual Exploitation).
Under the new Alien Act, which entered into force on January 1, 1998, women migrants will gain more independence. The new Alien Act will grant protection not only to the victims of armed conflicts in their home countries, but also to the victims and witnesses of trafficking in human beings, who will receive ex officio residence permits for the purposes of criminal prosecution and the enforcement of claims under civil law. With this an end is to be put to physical and mental threats and to the debt cycle many victims are forced into. These women receive psychological, health and legal support as well as help in family-related problems from the association "Lateinamerikanische Exilierte Frauen in �sterreich (LEF�), a victim protection facility with its seat in Vienna, which is supported by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection and by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
The "LEF�", which emerged in 1985 from a meeting point of exiled Latin-American women, now has the following well-developed structural features:
- Communication centre providing a meeting point and a library, offering seminars, issuing the journal "Lefita", organising seminars, courses in dance, drama, painting, and handicraft workshops, etc.;
- Social and employment counselling and support;
- German and literacy courses at various levels;
- Family counselling by a social worker, a female doctor, a female lawyer, and women psychologists with Spanish and Portuguese as native languages, ;
- Field of activity: "Trafficking in women" � educational and PR-work, psychosocial and legal counselling; health care and AIDS prevention; programmes for the protection of victims.
The "LEF�" is not the only institution to focus on international networking and lobbying. Another international conference on the issue of trafficking in women is being prepared for 1998. At this conference, experts and law enforcement authorities from the source countries of the trafficked women will come together to discuss and take measures designed to restrict trafficking in women in their source countries and to contribute to the networking of cross-country strategies for combatting trafficking in women.
On March 1, 1997, "exploitative trafficking" was established in law as an act constituting a criminal offence. Anyone who "deceives persons about their opportunities as aliens of obtaining residence and legal gainful employment in a country and thus incites them to enter a country illegally and to pay or to undertake to pay for assistance in obtaining illegal entry", can now be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years.
In combination with the provisions against human trafficking existing under criminal law, this provision is intended to enable effective action against criminal organisations and gangs which incite women, mostly under false pretences, to entrust themselves to these organisations and gangs. Moreover, the Federal Ministry of Justice is examining the adoption of special measures for improving the status and the protection of the victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings.
In order to counteract trafficking in women and similar forms of exploitation, the Republic of Austria considers it indispensable to improve the legal and economic situation of women and , at the same time, to encourage the establishment of civil societies as well as economic and political stability in the source countries.
E. Women and armed conflict
E 1: Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation
Women in the Austrian armed forces
Austria strongly welcomes conflict settlement mechanisms at the international level and has documented its readiness actively to participate in such mechanisms by repeatedly taking part in the peace-keeping and peace-building measures and operations of international organisations.
So far, women in Austria have been excluded from the pursuit of a professional military career. The Act on the Training of Women in the Armed Forces, which entered into force on January 1, 1998, regulates the admission of women to all ranks and functions on a voluntary basis and with a guaranteed professional career on the basis of equality.
E 2: Reduce excessive military expenditures and control the availability of armaments
Ban on anti-personnel land-mines
It is expected that Austria will ratify the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction in the course of 1998. Most of the provisions contained in this Convention have been incorporated in the Federal Law on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines which entered into force on January 1, 1997.
E 5: Provide protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women
Female asylum seekers and refugees in Austria
Since the outbreak of the conflict in the Balkans, Austria has taken a wide range of supportive measures in connection with the reception and integration of refugees from Bosnia and other regions of the Balkans, and has provided for the accommodation, integration and employment and also for the psychological care of refugees and in particular for the psychological care of women suffering from traumatic disorders or who have been victims of rape.
Seminars about gender-specific claims to asylum were held for employees of the Federal Asylum Agency, which is responsible for asylum proceedings, to sensitise them to the special needs of women refugees. Under the new Asylum Act which entered into force on January 1, 1998, persons citing interference with their sexual self-determination as the reason for their flight have to be interviewed by persons of the same sex. When arranging accommodation for refugees, increasing attention is paid to the availability of special facilities for women and children.
In 1993, "Susret", a project designed for women, was set up in Vorarlberg with funds from the Federal Government and from the Federal Province of Vorarlberg. "Susret" stands for a woven-goods factory set up for women refugees from Bosnia, who produce quality textiles with artistic designs. The women involved in this project were not only given jobs and psychological care but also the opportunity to become integrated into the Austrian labour market. At the same time, they were equipped for skilled employment after returning to their country of origin. In 1998, the Susret Art Manufaktur is to be continued as a reconstruction project in Bosnia.
With a view to increasing sympathy with and understanding for the situation and the special needs of female asylum seekers and refugees in Austria, a conference was convened in 1997 under the auspices of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection and of the Vienna UNHCR office. At this conference stock was taken of the situation in which these women find themselves in Austria. The report on the proceedings, which is being prepared for publication, will, for the first time, document in comprehensive detail the situation of women refugees in Austria as well as the experience which public officials and people taking care of refugees have gained in their work with women refugees. It will serve as a basis for measures aimed a this specific target group.
The new Alien Act which entered into force on January 1, 1998, has substantially reduced the dependence of female migrants. Previously, women who came to Austria to join their resident spouses depended on the good conduct and goodwill of their partners and were excluded from gainful employment. As of January 1, 1998, a foreign spouse following her husband to Austria will obtain her own residence permit, at least after four years, and may then also take up gainful employment, subject to the conditions prevailing in the labour market.
F. Women and the economy
F 2: Facilitate women's equal access to resources, employment, markets and trade
The situation of women in Austria as regards gainful employment
Women in Austria are still, for the most part, employed in low-prestige, low-wage sectors and jobs and often have employment contracts without adequate social-insurance cover. Moreover, women in Austria are confronted with a gender-segregated labour market which is only gradually opening up to them.
Women continue to work primarily in clerical, service, commercial trade and cleaning occupations, even though the percentage of women in technical occupations is rising.
There are still substantial differences between the incomes of women and men with the same education and engaged in the same occupation. Despite having the same formal qualifications as men, women frequently start their professional careers in lower positions, have fewer opportunities of promotion and tend to interrupt their careers, usually to set up and take care of families. Skilled male workers earn almost by 40% more than skilled female workers; in most qualification brackets the remuneration received by male employees was approximately one fifth higher than that received by female employees; for employees in leading positions the difference was about one third. It is only in the public sector that the differential between women and men is almost nil, thanks to a uniform pay scheme.
The employment participation rate of women has been constantly rising, from 32.2% (1982) and 37.9% (1993) to 39.9% (1996), while that of men has stagnated in recent years at 56.3% (1993) and 56.7% (1996). This increase is paralleled by an increase of women in part-time employment (12 to 35 hours a week) and of "negligibly employed" women (up to 11 hours a week).
Whereas in 1992 approximately 273,000 women (every fifth) had part-time jobs, the number had increased to 360,000 (almost every fourth woman) in 1996. In recent years, the number of "negligible employment contracts" has also risen steeply. Several such contracts can be entered into in parallel, each paying a maximum of ATS 3,740.- (1997); up to the end of 1997, these contracts were not subject to pension insurance payments. According to the social security statistics of November 1997, women held 124,365 (72.4%) of the registered 171,837 "minimal jobs".
Labour market policies for women
Women run a higher risk of losing their jobs. According to EUROSTAT statistics the unemployment rate in 1996 was 5.3% for women and 3.9% for men. The average period of unemployment is longer for women than for men. In 1989, labour market policies for women were put in place to promote equal opportunities for women and to take account of the special situation of women in the Austrian labour market. The focus is on the attainment of higher qualifications with a view to creating or opening up new employment opportunities for women, on career guidance and on measures to support women who have to care for dependents.
As regards the up-skilling of women, the training programme "Working and Learning", launched by the Austrian Public Employment Service, has proved particularly effective. By combining both aspects, it also meets the needs of women whose training and/or economic activity took place some time ago. Moreover, since the programme is based on direct cooperation with business enterprises there are increased chances that the women participating will be employed by these enterprises and that the obstacles still impeding the access of women to non-traditional sectors will be eliminated.
In 1995, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs launched the "Workshop for the Up-skilling of Women" in Vienna. Modelled on the Dutch vocational school for women, it developed new training programmes for women, examined them for their practical efficacy and made the experience gained and the results obtained available to other training institutions.
In 1996, the Austrian Public Employment Service adopted a special programme for women wishing to re-enter the labour market after a prolonged interruption of their careers, mostly for family reasons. 100 million Austrian Schilling were allocated to this programme, which included measures targeted at individuals (career guidance, support in job applications, initial and further training, financial support for prospective entrepreneurs) and measures targeted at firms
(re-)employing women, or company facilities benefitting women as well as at the development of employment projects and of new training areas.
To increase the percentage share of women in male-dominated trades requiring an apprenticeship, the Austrian Public Employment Service allocates funds to enterprises which provide training in such trades for girls or young women. Support is also granted to women over 19 who opt for apprenticeships to make up for their lack of skills and in this way solve their job problems.
Two research projects commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs in 1997 ("Trends in the Services Sector � Trends in Women's Employment", "Obstacles to the Gainful Employment of Women") are to provide the theoretical basis for targeted measures to promote and increase the economic activities of women and to eliminate any tendencies to gender-specific segregation in the services sector as well as existing discriminating mechanisms.
Atypical employment and flexibilisation of working time from the perspective of women
As regards the flexibilisation of working hours demanded by employers on the grounds of global competition and the unfavourable cost structure prevailing in industrialised countries, care must be taken that any such steps are compatible with family responsibilities, and countervailing measures will be required to prevent the discrimination of persons who have to care for dependents.
Several studies have been commissioned in recent years by the responsible ministries to address the development and the social impact of atypical forms of employment and of the flexibilisation of working hours also from the female perspective. In 1997, the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs co-organised an international conference of experts on the topic of "Part-time Work in Europe � Models for an Austrian Solution" with the EU-Network "Family and Work". The Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs has for several years given awards to business enterprises and, in 1997, also to local communities for family-friendly working conditions. Currently, the Ministry is drafting criteria for an Austrian diploma bearing the designation "Family-friendly Enterprise - Proved to Have a Family-oriented Personnel Policy".
Under an amendment of the Act on Working Hours, which entered into force on March 1, 1997, business enterprises are given farreaching opportunities for restructuring the standard working hours. By means of collective agreements an average working time of no more than 40 hours a week can be fixed for an aggregate period of up to one year (in certain cases even for longer periods). Within the individual weeks of the aggregate period the standard working time must not exceed 48 hours. Codetermination regulations on a supra-enterprise level ensure that such flexibilisation will not be effected at the expense of the employees.
Home-based employment is to be counted as an atypical form of employment. The legal status of homeworkers, most of them women, is to be newly regulated pursuant to the agreement on home-based employment concluded in 1996 at the Conference of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. In Austria, the concept of home-based employment has, so far, covered only the production of goods; in future, services, too, are to be included in this category.
In the process of harmonising Austrian law with EU-law, the ban on night work for women, which has been in force in Austria since 1969, will be modified in compliance with EU-regulations by 2001 at the latest.
The ban on night work was originally introduced to protect women with the multiple burdens of job, household and family responsibilities. However, it put women at a competitive disadvantage in the labour market, as job requirements were changing, and many sectors needed sufficient flexibility for round-the-clock operation. The new, general Act on Night Work for Women and Men is to regulate the preconditions for night work and ensure that due regard is paid to the interests as well as the health and safety of employees.
F 4: Strengthen women's economic capacity and commercial networks
"Women's Business Centre"
To promote and support women who wish to venture into self-employment, a "Women's Business Centre" was set up in Vienna at the initiative of and funded by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection. Young women who are potential entrepreneurs are to be furnished with pertinent advice, business-management know-how and information about attractive possibilities of financing before, during and after the formation stage of an enterprise.
In addition to offering unbureaucratic individual advice, the "Women's Business Centre" is also involved in project development and in building up the image of women in the business community. Other vital elements of the programme are the building of national and international networks of women entrepreneurs by strengthening the contacts among them and the maintenance and establishment of contacts with and the supply of information on national and supranational initiatives for the promotion of women entrepreneurs.
The Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection has joined forces with the "Women's Business Centre" in advocating that capital be allocated especially for businesses set up by women. One of Austria's major banks has responded to this appeal and will set up a "Fund for Women Entrepreneurs" endowed with 20 million Schilling in 1998.
F 5: Eliminate occupational segregation and all forms of employment discrimination
Equal treatment in the civil service
The Federal Equal Treatment Act, which entered into force on March 1, 1993, imposes an all-out ban on discrimination linked with employment or training conditions in the Federal administration. This ban applies, in particular, to the establishment and termination of employment or training contracts, to the amount of remuneration and the granting of employment benefits, to the provision of initial and further training, to career development and to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Furthermore, the Federal Equal Treatment Act contains a clause which provides for the advancement of women. Under this clause, there must be active promotion of equal opportunities for women in the public administration. In compliance with the Act, plans for the advancement of women were drawn up for all branches of the Federal administration. These plans stipulate that women are to be given priority access to initial and further training courses and preference both as regards recruitment and promotion in areas where they are underrepresented, provided that they "are not less well qualified than the best qualified male competitor".
Women count as underrepresented if their percentage share in the total number of people permanently employed in a particular service category or the functions performed by those permanently employed in such a service category comes to less than 40% of the total staff employed by the relevant authority.
Upon entry into force of the Federal Equal Treatment Act, working groups, coordination centres and/or equal treatment officers were established in all the Federal agencies and entrusted with the task of monitoring the implementation of the Act and of acting as contact points.
Pursuant to the Equal Treatment Act, the Federal Equal Treatment Commission was set up at the Federal Chancellery on March 1, 1993. Its task is to give expert advice on bills and statutory regulations submitted by the Federal government on matters of equal treatment and the advancement of women in the Federal service.
Furthermore, the Equal Treatment Commission is empowered to supply an expertise on all matters relating to the equal treatment and advancement of women in the Federal service, both upon request and on its own initiative. By far the majority of requests related to the stipulation of equal treatment in the context of promotion to more highly remunerated functions.
Between 1994 and 1997, the Federal Provinces of Austria adopted their own Equal Treatment Acts for people serving in their administrations, the Federal Province of Vorarlberg enacted legislation for the advancement of women and set up control and consultation mechanisms for the implementation of the legal provision and the speedy achievement of equality for women serving in its administration.
Equal treatment in the private sector
Since 1979, Austria has had a Federal Act on the Equal Treatment of Women and Men in the World of Work which regulates private-sector employment contracts and provides for the Equal Treatment Commission, established by the Federal Act of 1979, or for a court to establish whether any reported violation of the equal treatment principle actually constitutes a violation.
The ban on discrimination extends to the establishment and termination of employment contracts, to the amount of remuneration and the granting of employment benefits, to initial and further training provision, to promotion and other working conditions.
The Equal Treatment Act as amended in 1993 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, provides for better protection against dismissal, grants persons whose rights have been violated the right to claim indemnification � up to a certain limit � for any financial loss incurred and, for the first time, expressly sets forth the concept of indirect discrimination and the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
Since 1991, the Ombuds-woman for Equal Treatment Issues, based in Vienna, has been the contact person for people who feel that their right to equal treatment in the workplace has been violated. In 1998, a regional office will be set up for the Ombuds-woman for Equal Treatment Issues in Innsbruck to facilitate the access of the persons concerned to information and redress.
The Ombuds-woman for Equal Treatment Issues is, in particular, authorised to gather information in the enterprise concerned as well as to take statements from the employers. Moreover, the Ombuds-woman for Equal Treatment Issues has the right to apply for the opening of review proceedings or to seek the expert opinion of the Equal Treatment Commission and to attend the meetings of the Equal Treatment Commission.
The majority of cases submitted to the Equal Treatment Commission since 1991 concerned discrimination in fixing remuneration or cases of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as discrimination when establishing employment contracts. The rulings of the Equal Treatment Commission since 1991 were put together in a loose-leaf collection and made accessible to a broader public.
Practice has revealed that there are still substantial gaps in the legal protection of persons subjected to discrimination, and these work to their disadvantage. The responsible Federal Minister for Women's Issues and the Ombuds-woman for Equal Treatment Issues are, therefore, preparing a further amendment of the Equal Treatment Act.
Obligation to report
In compliance with the stipulations of the Equal Treatment Acts and/or the Federal Equal Treatment Act, the responsible ministries regularly report to the National Council on the progress made in the implementation of the Equal Treatment Acts, the achievement of equal treatment and the advancement of women in the Federal service and in the private sector as well as on the work of the Equal Treatment Commissions.
Moreover, under the "Federal Act on Reports by the Federal Government Concerning the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women", which has been in force since 1992, the Federal Government is obliged to report at two-year intervals to the National Council on measures for the enforcement of equal treatment in the world of work.
Public procurement and the advancement of women
On the initiative of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection, a study session on "Public Procurement as an Instrument for the Advancement of Women" was held in Vienna in 1997. The meeting was convened in order clearly to define at the EU-level as well as at the Austrian Federal and Provincial levels the framework legislation which would permit the preferential awarding of public contracts to enterprises proactively pursuing the advancement of women.
In Austria, the advancement of women at enterprise level is primarily based on voluntary commitment on the part of the entrepreneur. The Labour Management Act provides for voluntary arrangements for the advancement of women between the owner of the enterprise and the works council. Beyond this, the Equal Treatment Act stipulates that state subsidies must be reserved for enterprises which adhere to the regulations of the Equal Treatment Act.
Currently, Austrian enterprises which have adopted programmes for the advancement of women are few and far between; some have informal structures for the proactive advancement of female employees. The envisaged linkage between the awarding of public contracts and measures for the advancement of women at enterprise level is, therefore, seen as an incentive to entrepreneurs to take such measures. At another event devoted to "The Advancement of Women at Enterprise Level", which the Federal Minister for Women's Issues is planning to mount in 1998, the advancement of women at enterprise level is to be specified, and the instruments available to enterprises as well as implementation strategies are to be discussed.
F 6: Promote harmonisation of work and family responsibilities for women and men
Protective legislation for working mothers and parental leave
In the 70s and 80s, protective legislation for dependently employed mothers, which had been introduced in the 50s, was continuously extended. The Act on the Protection of Working Mothers (re-announced in 1979) provides for certain restrictions, or a total ban, on the employment of pregnant women and nursing mothers, for entitlement to continued payments from the employer and increased protection of women against dismissal during certain periods before and after confinement. Under the General Act on Social Insurance, women are entitled to weekly payments during the periods in which they are not allowed to work.
The minimum period of protection during which an absolute ban on employment is effective, is 16 weeks. It begins eight weeks before the expected date of confinement and ends eight weeks after confinement. In the case of premature births, multiple births or births by Caesarean section, the period of protection is extended to 20 weeks.
The Act on the Protection of Working Mothers of 1979 also regulates the entitlement of mothers to maternity leave; this entitlement was extended to fathers by the Act on Parental Leave of 1989. The Act on the Extension of Parental Leave of 1990 extended parental leave to the child's second birthday and provided for the option of part-time parental leave.
Under the Austrian legal system, parents can claim leave in order to take care of their own offspring, or of adopted or foster children. Parental leave has to be taken for at least 3 months and must not extend beyond the child's second birthday.
Taking account of varying family or professional responsibilities, the Acts on parental leave give considerable latitude to parents in organising their leave:
The entitlement to parental leave can be shared between the father and mother. In order not to lose contact in a time of rapidly changing job requirements, part-time parental leave can be arranged in agreement with the employer. In certain cases part-time parental leave can be extended to the child's fourth birthday. Up to four weeks after the termination of parental leave, the persons concerned enjoy farreaching protection against dismissal.
Parents who have taken parental leave from a job covered by unemployment insurance are, as a rule, entitled to parental leave benefit until the child has completed the 18th month of its life. This social benefit is paid by the Austrian health insurance institutions to make up at least partly for the loss of income and for the cost of caring for the child. Currently, the percentage of fathers taking parental leave is very low. As an incentive to fathers, a regulation was introduced in mid-1996 under which parental leave benefit is only paid up to the child's second birthday, if the period of leave is divided between the parents, and the other parent, usually the father, takes at least six months of the two-year leave. Part-time parental leave carries entitlement to a pro-rata length of leave and amount of benefit. Single mothers and mothers or fathers whose spouses or cohabitants have no or a very low income are entitled to an allowance in addition to the parental leave benefit, provided that they meet the pertinent criteria. This allowance has to be repaid, if the income of the beneficiaries increases.
The public sector has analogous parental leave arrangements. The people who are self-employed and women farmers are entitled to grants-in-aid (benefits in kind) or weekly payments (for 8 weeks before and after confinement) or part-time benefits (until the child's second birthday).
On January 1, 1993, the legal entitlements of parents taking parental leave were further improved by adding a maximum of 10 months of the first parental leave to the assessment basis for periods of notice, continued payments in the case of illness and for holidays.
An amendment of the Act on the Protection of Working Mothers enacted in 1995 put employers under an obligation to assess the risk to women in certain workplaces. What has to be assessed in particular is the type, amount and duration of exposure to hazardous substances, work processes or other working conditions. If the assessment reveals that pregnant women and nursing mothers are exposed to risks, either the type of employment has to be changed or they must be transferred to another workplace. Should this be impossible, they have to be given paid leave from work.
The same amendment provided for entitlement to continued pay to the employed woman, if she had to take time off for necessary preventive medical check-ups during pregnancy, for additional bans on the employment of nursing mothers and for the obligation to equip workplaces with areas where pregnant women and nursing mothers can lie down and rest.
Since January 1, 1998, parents on parental leave have the additional possibility of taking up temporary gainful employment while drawing parental leave benefit. The benefit paid during such periods will be reduced by the income earned. The idea behind this is to increase the chances for later re-entry into the world of work.
Additional measures designed to reconcile job and family
Further measures designed to reconcile job and family and to facilitate women's access to or retention in adequate jobs are given below:
The provision of more child-care facilities which are tailored to the needs of working parents and in particular to their working hours.
In Austria, the provision and maintenance of child-care facilities is the responsibility of the individual Federal Provinces. In order to stimulate the creation of more and better child-care facilities, state funds to the amount of 600 million Schilling were allocated in 1997.
The campaign "Real Men Go Fifty-Fifty" launched by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues in 1996.
The idea behind this campaign is to encourage the sharing of reproductive work on an equal basis, and to increase awareness of the connection between this issue and the marginalisation of women in the labour market as well as to encourage men as a group to assume a more active role as husbands and fathers within their families.
The statutory right, introduced in 1998, of persons who have to take care of dependents to arrange for a reduction of their standard working hours with their employers.
The Act on the Amendment of the Labour and Social Law of 1997, for the first time, provides for a maximum educational leave of one year for purposes of up-skilling and further training. For the periods used for such purposes, employees will be entitled to state support corresponding to the parental leave benefit.
G. Women in power and decision-making
G 1: Take measures to ensure women's equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making
Women in public life
The actual representation of women in public life is an important yardstick for the involvement of women in all spheres of the society. It is evident that the number of women involved in politics, both through institutions or on their own initiative, is constantly growing, furthered by the rising levels of educational attainment and by the integration of ever more women in productive employment.
The public image of women politicians, and consequently of women in general, depends to a great extent on the practice, increasingly witnessed in recent years, of nominating women for top positions on candidates' lists or of electing them as the chairpersons of party organisations (The Greens from 1994 to 1996, the Liberal Forum since 1993). In the last presidential elections in 1992, the first woman candidate in the history of the Austrian Republic ran for the highest office in the state. In the 1998 presidential election this situation will be repeated.
Four of currently (1998)16 cabinet members are women, three of them holding the positions of Federal Ministers and one the position of Assistant-Secretary of State. Of 211 Members of the European Parliament 14 are men and 7 women. The proportion of women among the 183 Austrian Members of Parliament is 26%.
All of the five parties represented in Parliament are committed, to varying degrees, to the increased involvement of women in politics. The Greens, for example, have a 50% quota for women anchored in their statutes. The Social Democratic Party of Austria has adopted a women's quota of 40, the Austrian People's Party one of 33%. Neither the party programme of the Liberal Forum nor that of the Austrian Freedom Party contains fixed quotas for women.
The situation in the Federal Provinces is characterised by substantial differences in the political presence of women. It is still highest in the Provincial Parliament of Vienna, with 34% in 1997 as compared with 31% in 1994; in the remaining 8 Federal Provinces the proportion of women varied between 6% and 26% in 1997 as compared with 8% and 25% in 1994. At the local government level the average percentage of women was about 8% in 1994; at the beginning 1998, only 36 of the 2359 local communities in Austria (1.5%) had women mayors.
In 1994, the first woman judge was called to the Constitutional Court; in 1997 another female lawyer was appointed judge at the Constitutional Court. Somewhat less than 30% of the posts for judges, one fifth of the posts for public prosecutors and one sixth of all leading positions in the judicial sector are held by women (1997). Women account for almost two thirds of the candidates for judicial office (1997), which means that the overall proportion of women in the judicial sector is expected to rise continuously.
In the organisations representing employer and employee interests, the proportion of women is about 10 to 13% (1994). From 1994 to 1996, the Federal Chamber of Labour, the statutory body representing the interests of employees in Austria, was, for the first time, headed by a woman.
H. Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
H 1: Create or strengthen national machineries and other governmental bodies
Representing women's interests at government level
At government level the interests of Austrian women have, since 1991, been represented by a woman Federal Minister attached to the Federal Chancellery. Her support structure at civil service level is the Department for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection, established at the Federal Chancellery in 1997.
In 1997, a special Internet homepage of the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection (www.bminfv.gv.at) was set up to present the department and to provide information about its tasks, publications, functions and other activities.
Moreover, the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection is the publisher of a report on the current situation of women in Austria. This report, which is based on scientific findings and a variety of statistic data, is issued at ten-year intervals (most recently in 1995). In addition, she is the publisher of a series addressing various women-specific issues of socio-political relevance.
On the occasion of Austria's EU Presidency in the second half of 1998, the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection will share the chairmanship of the informal EU Council of Ministers for Labour, Social Affairs and Equality of Women and Men with the Federal Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. Their chairmanship is seen as an opportunity to boost the Austrian priority topic "Equal Opportunities and Employment" at the EU level.
I. Human rights of women
I 1: Promote and protect the human rights of women, through the full implementation of all human rights instruments, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Austria is committed to the principle of equal rights for all as a supporting pillar of any system designed for the protection of fundamental human rights and for the promotion of socially weaker population groups, in particular women. These tenets have shaped both Austria's international and national commitments.
Austria's international commitments
Austria has taken a stand for consolidating and safeguarding the rights of women in all the important international bodies concerned with women's issues.
At the Vienna World Conference in 1993, Austria successfully advocated the furtherance of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), and has accordingly raised Austria's contributions. For the term from 1996-1999, an Austrian woman was elected to the INSTRAW Advisory Council. From 1997-1999, Austria is also a member of the UNDP Executive Council and as such represented on the UNIFEM Supervisory Council.
Austria's commitment to furthering the rights of women, which it demonstrated at the Vienna Human Rights Conference and at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, will be renewed on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and of the 5th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference in 1998, both at the bilateral and the multilateral level, especially with a view to the implementation of the resolutions adopted by the two world conferences.
On December 10, 1997, the International Day of Human Rights and the eve of the "Human Rights Year 1998", a "National Committee for the Human Rights Year 1998" was set up in Austria, with the task of planning and coordinating various activities. The Committee pools the resources of all the national organisations including non-governmental organisations, such as the women's NGO "Association for Women's Rights � Human Rights".
Austria has also taken a stand for consolidating women's rights in the other international bodies:
At the 53rd Meeting of the European Commission of Human Rights in Geneva in 1997, the topic of "women's rights" was considered a priority by almost all the Member States as was reflected by numerous statements. On behalf of all the EU Member States, the EU Presidency submitted a declaration on the rights of women and children, which confirmed and endorsed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as international human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The current EU action programme for equal opportunities, in which Austria is involved with a project of its own, can be counted as a measure for the implementation of the resolutions adopted in Beijing. Other major EU concerns which can rely on unqualified endorsement are trafficking in women, and women and armed conflict.
The two resolutions on "Eliminating Violence Against Women" and on the "Integration of Women's Rights into the UN System", which had been co-sponsored by Austria and negotiated under the chairmanship of Canada, were adopted by consensus by the Human Rights Commission. The second resolution contains the concept of mainstreaming adopted in Beijing and reiterates the request that the resolutions of the 1993 VDPA and the Beijing Platform for Action of 1995 be implemented.
With this in mind, in the summer of 1997, the coordination segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) addressed, the question of mainstreaming, or in other words the consistent consideration of a gender-specific perspective in all areas and activities of the UN system with the objective of implementing the results of the World Conference on Women in Beijing.
At the 52th General Assembly of the United Nations, Austria co-sponsored several resolutions: "Implementation of the Outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women"; "INSTRAW- International Training and Research Institute for the Advancement of Women", "United Nations Development Fund for Women", as well as "The Girl Child", "Traditional or Customary Practices affecting the Health of Women and Girls" and "Traffic in Women and Girls", all of which were adopted by consensus.
As a state party to the "Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)", Austria has sought to provide a remedy for women or groups of women who are victims under the Convention by way of an optional protocol to the Convention. These efforts have been in progress in the working group under Austria's chairmanship, set up in pursuance of the recommendations issued by the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing by the Commission on the Status of Women. The second meeting of the working group charged with drafting an optional protocol to the Women's Convention, which was held in parallel with the CSW meeting, concluded the first reading of the draft by the Austrian chairwoman. For the most part, the response to the draft was positive and supportive. There was agreement in principle on the introduction of an individual petition procedure as well as on including the inquiry procedure. The positions on a petition procedure for groups and on an opt-out system from the inquiry procedure as well as on the desirable extent to which the existing international human rights practice ought to be codified were initially less uniform. Compared with the sluggish progress made by other working groups negotiating protocols, however, work on the CEDAW protocol has, so far, proved very successful.
In accordance with Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Austria is obliged to submit to the responsible UN Committee regular reports on the progress made in implementing the Convention in Austria. Since 1983, four Austrian reports have been submitted to the Committee; the third and fourth reports (submitted in April 1997) are expected to be dealt with by the Committee in 1998.
Pursuant to the Beijing Action Programme, the European Commission was mandated by a Council resolution (95/593/EC of December 22, 1995) to implement the Fourth Action Programme of the Union for Equal Opportunities of Women and Men (1996-2000). One of the objectives of this action programme is to incorporate the dimension of equal opportunities for men and women into all Community policies. Austria decided to take part in or to submit projects within the framework of this programme and has received funding for the implementation, inter alia,
- of the project "Preparing Women to Lead!". The purpose of this project is to encourage young, highly qualified women to take on responsibility in leading positions and to prepare them for such positions through personal contacts with successful women executives in business, politics and public administration on whom they can model themselves. As "Preparing Women to Lead!" is an international project which involves the Netherlands and Belgium besides Austria, one of its purposes will be to build a European network of mentors and to give women in leading positions increased opportunities for cooperation;
- of the project "Managing E-Quality". This project is aimed at sensitising organisations to equality issues, in particular with a view to the better reconciliation of job and family (also for men) and to the development of appropriate in-company programmes. The project is primarily addressed to executives, staff representatives and other decision-makers in the field of human resource development. It comprises multi-stage training programmes in which the problems faced by an equality-oriented quality management are to be identified and solutions developed.
At the Ministerial Conference of the European Union in April 1997, where a catalogue of measures was to be drawn up on the basis of Resolution 51/66 of the UN General Assembly for Combatting Trafficking in Women, Austria was represented by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection. The measures to be taken were summed up in the final declaration - "The Hague Ministerial Declaration on European Guidelines for Effective Measures to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Women for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation".
Council of Europe:
The Council of Europe convened the 4th Conference of European Ministers on the Equality between Women and Men in Istanbul, on November 6/7, 1997. Austria was represented by the Federal Minister for Women's Issues and Consumer Protection. The Conference adopted a declaration (Declaration on Equality between Women and Men as a Fundamental Criterion of Democracy), the principal objective of which is the creation of a democracy in which women and men have equal rights; the Declaration contains specific, multi-disciplinary strategies for public and private life.
Austria's involvement in development cooperation
In May 1993, the European Council adopted conclusions in which it was pointed out that updated, consolidated guidelines for a Community policy and for policies of the Member States in the field of "women and development" would have to be drawn up.
It is in the interest of effective development work to overcome the present inequality in gender roles, since women have as important a role to play as men in implementing Article 130u of the EU Treaty. The guidelines of the Council were confirmed subsequent to the World Conference on Women in Beijing. The Beijing Platform for Action endorsed these policy guidelines.
Using these considerations as a basis, the EZA - Austrian Development Cooperation has devised a new strategy, which builds on the principles of human rights, rule of law, democracy and good governance as well as on the strengthening and development of a civil society. Another priority is increasingly to incorporate the environmental dimension and equality between women and men into Austria's development cooperation with a view to achieving a synergy effect.
The first step towards this aim was taken by introducing a clause into the 1996-1998 three-year programme of the EZA which stipulates "priority for the practical and strategic interests of women". This "gender-specific perspective" extends to
- systematic stock-taking of the situation in a given country, as the prerequisite for a political dialogue with Austria's partners in development cooperation,
- devising of programmes for individual countries,
- project work relating both to educational and PR activities in the field of development cooperation and to activities run abroad.
Currently, a variety of women-oriented projects are being sponsored by EZA in the following countries: Nicaragua, Western Sahara, El Salvador, India, Mozambique, Uganda, Namibia, Southern Chile, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Most of the projects provide initial and further training for women and promote their involvement in the process of democratisation at the local and regional level. In a process involving society as a whole, the ultimate aim is to raise awareness of the need for the participation of women on the basis of equality in all the spheres of civil society and in the decision-making processes.
The organisation and running of a 12-day women's conference in Mekellen/Tigray, Ethiopia, in February 1998, was funded with US$ 80,000. The purpose of the conference was to draft legislation for the harmonisation of the Ethiopian civil and penal law with the human-rights guarantees for women contained in the new Ethiopian constitution; further, to draft principles which enable the characteristic religious and cultural features and the interests of the peoples and ethnic groups of Ethiopia to be taken into consideration in future legislation, and to disseminate the themes and the outcome of the conference in order to support and strengthen local and regional women's initiatives.
I 2: Ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice
The principle of equality in the Austrian legal system
The fundamental postulate of equality in the Austrian legal system is enshrined in the equality principle in Article 2 of the Basic Law of 1867 and in Article 7 of the Federal Constitution Law of 1929. Mention should also be made of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which in Austria, has the rank of a constitutional law. This article states: "The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex [...]."
According to the interpretation of the law which has prevailed in Austria hitherto, the universal principle of equality does not imply any obligation to change the legal system with a view to achieving substantive equality of the sexes, nor does the constitutional law contain an express mandate to the legislator, especially when it comes to the admissibility of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de-facto equality between men and women, recommended in Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as a suitable means for the elimination of existing discrimination.
Irrespective of this, there are other provisions on a level with constitutional provisions as well as stipulations contained in standard legislation which cover and specify individual aspects of the universal principle of equality and contain a number of regulations on equality addressed not only to the executive but also to the legislative branch of the Austrian administration. At the level of standard legislation, for example, the application of the equality principle to the equal treatment of men and women in the world of work is specified in the Federal Equal Treatment Act and in the Provincial Equal Treatment Acts which govern employment contracts in the Federal service, and in the Equal Treatment Act which governs employment contracts in the private sector (see Chapter F 5).
To give more weight to these obligations on the part of the legislator, the introduction of a guarantee of fundamental rights would seem purposeful. Such a guarantee could stimulate the adoption of measures required to achieve the equality of men and women in Austria in law and in fact. This is why the need for a clause expressly stipulating pertinent legislation has been repeatedly addressed in recent years, with the result that, in 1995, a government bill for a "Federal Constitutional Act on the De-facto Equality of Men and Women" was submitted, which, however, did not pass beyond the preliminary stages. Currently, parliament is deliberating a motion, introduced by several MPs in 1997, to amend Article 7 of the Federal Constitution Law by adding a clause to the effect that establishing equality of men and women and eliminating discrimination is the responsibility of the state.
J. Women and the media
J 1: Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Women in the Austrian media and culture industries
In 1995, the Federal Minister for Women's Issues published the results of a study on "Women in the Austrian Media and Culture Industries". Quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed that women are not underrepresented in these sectors but are still frequently concentrated in gender-specific segments.
In 1994, the ORF, the Austrian public service broadcasting organisation, was the first European radio and TV-organisation to put a woman at the head of programming. Currently, the percentage share of women in the ORF staff (1998) is 16.7% at the management level, 15.3% at the executive level and 18% at the technical level. This is above the average for European broadcasting organisations (6% at the management level, 11% at the executive level, 7% at the technical level according to the data gathered in pursuance of the "European Charter for Equal Opportunities for Women in Broadcasting"). On February 2, 1998, the ORF hosted the conference on "Equal Opportunities for Women in Radio and Television" of the European Broadcasting Union. The conference, which was held in Vienna, deliberated on the equal treatment of women in the public service electronic media and on increasing the percentage share of women in leading positions to 30% by the year 2003, and to 50% at a later date. On the occasion of this conference, the ORF signed the "European Charter for Equal Opportunities for Women in Broadcasting".
J 2: Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media
The Austrian Advertising Council
The Austrian Advertising Council, a self-regulatory body for the advertising industry, examines complaints against sexist advertisements. Anyone in Austria can lodge such complaints with the Council.
K. Women and the environment
K 2: Integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes for sustainable developmentm
"Lom� 2000" reflection paper
As part of the preparations for Austria's EU Presidency in 1998, a group of Austrian experts are drafting a reflection paper entitled "Lom� 2000" with a view to giving more weight to environmental and women's policies. Current reflections on a new partnership with the ACP countries are focused on a new political dialogue encompassing, apart from necessary up-dates of the Conferences of Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Cairo, Istanbul, and Copenhagen, the following three "windows":
Political and security partnership: common zone of peace and stability, precise definition of the concepts of good governance, conditionality, conflict prevention and resolution;
Economic and financial partnership: common zone of mutual economic stimulation and operational coordination. Measures counteracting poverty and promoting structural adjustment including the gender-related measures for the preservation of the environment; partnerships in the fields of science and technology;
Partnership in the social, cultural and human fields: education, capacity increase, promotion of the civil society, decentralisation; deepening the mutual understanding of cultures and the exchange between the civil societies.
The above-mentioned three areas of partnership are to be linked with a sectoral approach. Any systematic and integrative influence emanating from the themes "women and environment" through the agreement will depend on visions in which political justice, democracy and participation as well as social and ecological criteria have pride of place. These themes should, therefore, be anchored, in particular, in the second window of economic and financial partnership.
L. The girl-child
L 1: Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl-child
As a contracting party to the "Convention on the Rights of the Child" Austria advocates improvements in the rights of boys and girls, especially in the poor countries, both within the EU (follow-up to the Stockholm Congress on the sexual exploitation of children) and in its capacity as member of the UN Convention.
Administration of criminal law relating to young offenders
From February 23 - 25, 1997, an expert meeting was held in Vienna, hosted by Austria and organised in cooperation with the Vienna UN Division for Crime Prevention on a specific section of the above-mentioned Convention, namely the protection of juvenile offenders. The basis of discussion at the meeting, which was attended by the responsible UN organisations, by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs and interested NGOs, was the ECOSOC Resolution 1996/13 of July 23, 1996.
The purpose of the meeting was to draft an integrated international strategy for raising international standards in the administration of criminal law relating to young offenders, and to have it implemented in three pilot countries (South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand). The action programme drawn up at the meeting was adopted at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Commission on Crime Prevention (Vienna, April 28 - May 9, 1997). The action programme was also designed to improve coordination among the various UN bodies in line with the long-term reform efforts of the United Nations.
International resolutions on the protection of the girl-child
At the 52th General Assembly of the United Nations, Austria co-sponsored the following resolutions on the protection of the girl-child: the resolution "The Girl Child" for the improvement of the situation of girls, in which states are called upon to take effective action against problems such as the marriages of minors, illiteracy, child prostitution, as well as the resolutions "Traditional or Customary Practices affecting the Health of Women and Girls" and "Traffic in Women and Girls", which were adopted by consensus.
L 4: Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training
Training and vocational training guidance for girls
Austria has put in place a variety of state schemes which draw the attention of girls, and also of their parents, to forms of secondary and tertiary educational and vocational training which lie outside the traditional fields of "women's occupations", and which encourage girls to opt for such occupations (see Chapter B 3). In the context of promoting women in the school and education sector, particular importance is attributed to the issue of co-education (see Chapter B 4).
Another priority area at Austrian schools is sex education for children and young people. Under a pilot project run by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs under the title "Parents-Teachers-Pupils - Partners in Sex Education" teaching, information and sex-education material has been produced and working parties have been set up at, by now, more than 100 schools.
L 7: Eradicate violence against the girl-child
Domestic violence / sexual violence against girls
The information material commissioned and funded by the Federal Minister of Women's Issues in 1993 and up-dated and published in a revised version in 1998 under the title "Counteracting Violence Against Women and Children" (see Chapter D 1) contains two sections which address in particular the vulnerability of children to violence: "Counteracting Violence Against Children" and "Counteracting Sexual Violence Against Girls and Boys".
The Federal Minister for Women's Issues has also funded practice-oriented further-training seminars for specific occupational and professional groups (police personnel, nursery school teachers, teachers, social workers, ...). The purpose of these seminars, which were organised in 1996/97 for more than 700 people, is to impart theoretical and practical knowledge about sexual abuse and the behaviour of victims and perpetrators; to teach participants how to identify and uncover the sexual abuse of children as well as crisis-intervention strategies; and to teach the participants ways of coping with the consequences of sexual abuse and of broadening their own scope of action. In addition, a number of interdisciplinary seminars were organised for the exchange of opinions and increased cooperation among the individual occupational and professional groups, as well as seminars for multipliers.
"Violence against children" is an issue on which the Federal Ministry for Environment, Youth and Family Affairs is also focusing attention and activities:
In 1995, the Federal Ministry commissioned a nation-wide inquiry into what range of experience doctors had with violence against women and children. The findings revealed certain deficits in their knowledge about and handling of the victims of violence. As a result a manual on diagnosing and attributing symptoms of physical and/or sexual violence against children is now being produced for this professional group in cooperation with doctors. The manual will also describe intervention patterns and list contact points.
At the study session "Recognise, Understand - Help" in September 1996, a touring exhibition mounted by the Swiss Authority for the Equal Treatment of Women and Men under the title "(No) Safe Place - Sexual Violence Against Children", was presented and subsequently shown in Vienna. The exhibition is expected to be on display in the Federal Provinces up to the middle of 1999. It is laid out like a flat, to underline that sexual violence against children frequently takes place in the family environment. The aim of the exhibition is to encourage discussion and opinion formation and to help prevent violence.
The study session "Afraid of the Abused Child?! - Protection of children from the medical, youth-welfare and judiciary perspectives", organised in November 1997, had set itself the task to present models for dealing with violence against children, such as the "child protection group", to communicate know-how derived from practical experience in protecting children, to deepen mutual information on different approaches and attitudes of occupational and professional groups and to discuss the legal situation.
At this study session, the newly issued folder "Violence Against Children - Recognise, Understand, Help (Hints for the Teaching Professions)" and "Violence Against Women- Recognise, Understand, Help (Hints for the Medical Professions)" were presented to the public. They contain, inter alia, a kind of check-list with the principal indicators of abnormal behaviour in children and the people taking care of them.
The "Letters to Parents on Bringing up Children without Violence" have been published for 10 years now, and are considered an important instrument for the primary prevention of domestic violence. The letters are issued for four age groups (up to 2 years, 2 to 6, 6 to 10, and 10 to 18 years). Taking everyday situations as examples, they describe behaviour patterns conducive to a family life which is harmonious and free of violence. Thus they encourage more conscious parent-child interaction.