Working meeting with Chief Officer for Women’s Rights

Working meeting with Chief Officer for Women’s Rights

16 January 2019

On Wednesday 16 January 2019, the High Commissioner and her team were delighted to welcome Ms Céline Cottalorda to the office for a working meeting, following her recent appointment to the government as Chief Officer for Women’s Rights.

The meeting was one of a number of preparatory sessions that Ms Cottalorda is holding with the various State and civil society institutions that are involved in the Committee for Women’s Rights set up by the Government in late 2018 to make progress in tackling this substantial challenge. It provided an opportunity to discuss important issues relating to violence and discrimination against women in the Principality, particularly in light of the complaints that have been submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner over the last five years.

The High Commissioner noted that as soon as instances of violence are reported to the authorities, the State has a positive duty to act by putting in place effective measures to protect the victim. She particularly highlighted the need to provide better support for female victims through structured aid policies that take greater account of the difficulties that many women face in trying to find somewhere to live, regain their independence and stay with their children following a separation. To this end, she suggested that the studies which the Monegasque Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (IMSEE) has been commissioned to carry out should seek to draw up an accurate map of the resident female population in order to provide a better overview of the prevalence of socio-economic dependency factors and the measures required to rectify the situation. She also emphasised the importance of expanding access to the private rent-controlled housing sector (Act 1235) to people who had cohabited with Monegasque nationals without being married and were parents to underage children born of such a relationship.

With regard to discrimination, Anne Eastwood noted that the High Commissioner’s actions had shed light on the existence of inequality between men and women. Moreover, in some areas, these inequalities manifested themselves to the detriment of men, and there was also inequality among women based on their marital status. The Office of the High Commissioner had called for legislative reform to remedy these inequalities, and this remained to be implemented. She stressed the need for a cross-cutting legal study to identify obsolete provisions which still lingered in various areas of Monegasque law in order to put in place the conditions for achieving equal rights as an essential first step in the path towards genuine equality between women and men. The High Commissioner also suggested continuing the current work on the gender pay gap by considering measures likely to promote and facilitate more equitable sharing of family responsibilities between a couple, such as the introduction of paid parental leave. Finally, she once again emphasised the paramount importance of education and the need to further strengthen efforts to combat gender stereotyping in schools.

Ms Cottalorda paid close attention to the High Commissioner’s observations. She described how the Committee would operate, with thematic working groups established to enable constructive, regular dialogue with all stakeholders. She also confirmed that she believed it was extremely important to gather data on violence against women and to conclude the IMSEE study on the gender pay gap. Finally, she expressed her determination to ensure a high degree of visibility for women’s rights through conferences, debates and cultural events, which would help to inform people and raise public awareness.

Following this particularly valuable working meeting, the Chief Officer for Women’s Rights announced that she would be submitting an initial action plan based on her discussions with those working on these issues at the next session of the Committee for Women’s Rights on 8 March 2019, International Women’s Day. The High Commissioner will, of course, attend the meeting alongside the other stakeholders involved.