North Macedonia (CEDAW 14-11-2018)
The Committee considered the sixth periodic report of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (CEDAW/C/MKD/6) at its 1646th and 1647th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1646 and CEDAW/C/SR.1647), held on 1 November 2018. The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/MKD/Q/6, and the responses of the State party are contained in CEDAW/C/MKD/Q/6/Add.1.
D. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
- The Committee notes the State party’s efforts to align its actions concerning equal access to sexual and reproductive health with the 2030 Agenda, in particular the assessment of the national reproductive health strategy for the period 2020–2030, and that the State party’s programme includes among its priorities the provision of free oral contraceptives. It is concerned, however, about the following:
(a) Information received by the Committee indicating that women who are not in possession of identity documents, mostly Roma, asylum-seeking and refugee women and girls, face barriers, such as stigmatization and additional costs, when endeavouring to access sexual and reproductive health services, including gynaecological services and prenatal and postnatal health-care services, in particular in cities such as Demir Hisar, Krusevo, Makedonski Brod and Probistip, and in rural areas;
(b) The lack of information about the impact and effectiveness of current sexuality education programmes;
(c) The information received by the Committee indicating that the use of modern forms of contraception is very low, at a rate of 12.8 per cent among women between 15 and 49 years of age, and that there is insufficient awareness of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV;
(d) The legal barriers to access to abortion, such as mandatory counselling, a three-day waiting period, a mandatory ultrasound before the procedure and sanctions against doctors performing abortions;
(e) Information about the stigma experienced by lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons when endeavouring to access health care.
- The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure access to affordable and high-quality health care and family planning and sexual and reproductive health services, take measures to prevent stigmatization and prejudices against Roma women among medical practitioners, integrate Roma health mediators into the public health-care system, prevent and eliminate the practice of charging illegal fees for public health services, in particular for Roma women, women living in rural areas, women with disabilities and migrant and refugee women;
(b) Provide information on the impact of the delivery of age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health in school and ensure that adolescents have access to accurate information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including on responsible sexual behaviour and the prevention of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases;
(c) Ensure that modern forms of contraception and treatment for sexually transmitted infections are available to all women and girls and raise awareness regarding the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and regarding responsible sexual behaviour, including in border areas and among Roma women and girls;
(d) Accelerate the amendment of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy, ensuring the removal of prerequisites concerning access to abortion, such as mandatory medical counselling prior to abortion, waiting periods and ultrasound screenings, and ensure the provision of quality post-abortion health-care services for women;
(e) Address the stigma experienced by lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons when they endeavour to gain access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health care.