CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
23rd SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
H.E. MR. PETER M A G V A S I
MINISTER OF LABOUR, SOCIAL AFFAIRS AND FAMILY
OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC
WOMEN 2000: GENDER EQUALITY,
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE FOR THE TWENTY‑FIRST CENTURY
6 JUNE 2000
Permanent Mission of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations New York
Dear Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me, please, to inform you briefly about the status of women in the Slovak Republic and about institutional mechanisms for securing equality of women and men.
In Slovakia, rights of women are declared and understood as an inseparable component of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Constitution of the Slovak Republic guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms in the territory of Slovakia to all people irrespective of gender, race, colour, language, faith and religion, political or other thinking, national or social origin, membership to nationality or ethnic group, property, lineage or other status. Nobody can be harmed, disadvantaged or privileged on the grounds of these characteristics.
In 1980 the UN Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women was signed on behalf of the former Czechoslovakia. By succession since January 1 1993 the Slovak Republic has become the State party to this Convention. An initial report on implementation of the Convention was elaborated in 1995 and its updated version ‑ a periodic report was reviewed by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 1998.
The Government of Slovakia agreed with the signing of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and recommends to the President of Slovakia to ratify the signed Protocol after it is approved by the Parliament. Slovakia wishes to secure a possibility of international protection of women's rights in case all national remedies are exhausted.
It may be said that the Fourth Word Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 has had a positive influence on addressing women issues. Through implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action fundamental principles of mainstreaming were established in the Slovak Republic.
In March 1996 the Co‑ordination Committee on Women Issues as an advisory, initiative and co‑ordination body of the Government of Slovakia for promoting interests and needs of women was established' in order to guarantee the status of women institutionally. In 1999 the new statute of the Committee was approved by the Government of Slovakia.
The National Action Plan for Women in Slovakia elaborated in 1997 has been a key policy document of the Government of Slovakia in the area of women issues with the time horizon of 10 years.
By the agreement of the Government of Slovakia and the UN Development Program (UNDP) the National Gender Center was created in 1997 as information, documentation and co‑ordination center, the main task of which is to establish contacts between foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations.
Establishment of the department of equal opportunities at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of Slovakia on February 1 1999 was the next step in the area of institutional building. Priority task of this department is to harmonise the Slovak legislation with the EU legislation in the area of equal opportunities and to review the antidiscriminatory nature of proposed legislative amendments. The department of equal opportunities in co‑operation with the expert group for prevention of violence against women and domestic violence of the Council of Government of Slovakia for prevention of criminality are drafting the National strategy for prevention of violence against women and of domestic violence.
Since 1999 the Parliamentary Women's Committee has started to operate. Opinions of the Committee have character of recommendations for Parliament in the areas of overall advancement of women's status and of their equal opportunities.
In its Programme presented on November 19 1998, the Government of Slovakia has bound itself to carry out the reform of labour law via fulfilling the principle of equal treatment of men and women in employment, vocational training, job promotion, as well as, in working conditions.
The Employment Act amendment has strengthened the principle of equal treatment in employment by setting an explicit ban on publishing the job advertisements that would be including whatever limitation in respect to race, colour, language, gender, social origin, age, religion, political or other thinking, political adherence, trade union activity, membership to nationality or ethnic group, or another status.
In compliance with its policy statement the Government guarantees the right of parents to apply the principle of a choice a compatibility of parental and professional roles through providing short time jobs. Since the year 2000 the "Family and Job" audit will be carried annually on the basis of which the awards will be granted to employers who create optimum working conditions supporting the harmony of family and working lives of their employees.
It is necessary to emphasize a different situation of women and men on the labour market. High employment of women is elicited by the economic necessity of dual‑income model of households, as well as, by social and cultural environment of the country. Women want to be employed. Employment enables them to be independent. Pay differences between the two genders, however, have become a popular topic of these days. The average wage of women in Slovakia is by 24% lower than the average wage of men. The pay difference itself, however, does not necessarily mean discrimination. Three principles are to be compared here: equal pay for equal work, equal pay for work of equal value and equal job opportunities for all irrespective of gender.
The status of women in the public life of the society and their involvement in managerial functions represent an area in which hidden discriminatory tendencies against women and inequality between women and men are reflected most profoundly. Increased participation of women in managing the society and in managing public affairs either directly or through free selection of their representatives is thus strategic aim of women.
Representation of women in political life is understood as insufficient. There are currently 21 women deputies in the Parliament of the total 150 deputies, which means women representation at 14%. There are 2 women ministers in the Cabinet of Slovakia, i.e. 10%. Programs aiming at increasing the representation of women in political life and in decision taking positions are being prepared.
In conclusion, allow me to express the support of the Slovak Republic for the UN activities creating new equal partnership of women and men. In its further policy in the area of equality and equal opportunities of women and men the Government of Slovakia plans to adopt measures building on and implementing as broadly as possible conclusions of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and of the UN General Assembly 23 `d Special Session.