ISHR report on CEDAW's examination of Panama, 1 February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010 10:42


Panama presented its combined fourth through seventh periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee) on 1 February 2010.[1] Panama’s delegation included nine members from various ministries, including the Ministry of Justice and National Institute of Women, as well as from Panama’s Mission to Geneva.  Panama’s State report and presentation to the Committee focused on legislative action and lacked statistical information on the achievements related to realising the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) or outcomes of related legislation and programmes. The delegation lacked adequate information to respond to many of the Committee’s questions and often had to ask for more time in formulating a response.


The Committee was particularly concerned with ineffective implementation of legislation in Panama, and insufficient monitoring to understand the impact of that legislation. The delegation acknowledged that this is the State’s greatest challenge.[2] The Committee also encouraged Panama to take stronger temporary measures to achieve real equality. The delegation reported that the National Institute of Women is working to develop indicators of progress and collect statistics. The Committee encouraged Panama to refer to these indicators and statistics in their next report. 


The Committee also focused on violence against women, particularly trafficking and femicide. Committee members pointed out that violent crime against women is on the increase in Panama, and NGOs report that in a survey conducted over a year, 68 out of 70 murder cases were linked to gender or domestic violence. Trafficking is a particular challenge in Panama given its location as a transit country, but in 2007 only one case of trafficking was prosecuted. This is a particular concern as trafficking and prostitution are directly linked to poverty and both are prevalent among children. Thus the Committee recommended that along with establishing information campaigns, training for enforcement officers and building networks to report criminal activity, Panama should develop specific legislation criminalising femicide and protecting victims of trafficking from prosecution.


Another issue of concern was discrimination against and lack of opportunities for indigenous and minority women. Indigenous women experience a lack of educational opportunities suited to their role in the economy. They are subject to disproportionate rates of illiteracy, maternal mortality and life expectancy, and also struggle to access services, legal protection or knowledge of their rights. The Committee was interested to understand the barriers indigenous women face in accessing services.


Other topics addressed by the Committee included: the problem of gender stereotypes, especially as they exacerbate the issues discussed above; disparity in wages between men and women even as the gap in educational attainment has closed;[3] insufficient sexual and reproductive health services, particularly in rural areas; and the need for greater accessibility to the judicial system for women.


In conclusion, the Committee commended Panama’s commitment to CEDAW, particularly in developing legislation, and encouraged the delegation to focus on promoting the realization of this legislation.  The Committee requested clearer information in the next report in order to better understand progress made.  

[2] For instance the quota of 30% established to increase the presence of women in Parliament has not been fulfilled.

[3] According to the delegation, women receive an average of %70 what a man in an identical post will receive.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 August 2010 09:37
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