Enacting the Gender Equality Law in Mongolia - 2011

Women and Gender Equality in Mongolia

  • Significant wage gaps persist between men and women.
  • Even women in high-level positions such as managers, specialists and engineers earn 19-30% less than men on the average.
  • Formal job opportunities are limited for women. Discrimination is explicit in hiring (age, sex, appearance, skills).
  • 58% of asset registrations are in husband’s name compared to 34% in women’s name.
  • Unemployment among higher educated increased by 16% while for lower educational levels it was consistently decreasing (2004-2007).
  • Women comprise 59% and 65% of people with upper secondary and higher education.

August 2011

Despite the Government’s commitments and efforts, the persistence of gender-based discriminatory practices, weak enforcement of the existing laws and regulations, and women’s limited awareness and knowledge of their rights hinder the full realization of gender quality in Mongolia.

Women continue to face gender-based discrimination especially in area of labor and employment with women consistently receiving less pay than men for work of equal value. Even women in high-level positions such as managers, specialists and engineers earn 19-30% less than men on the average. Formal job opportunities remain biased against women and discriminatory hiring practices based on age, sex, appearance and skills remain prevalent.

Legislating Gender Equality

Legislating gender equality requires review and revision of gender discriminatory laws that treat men and women differently, addressing inconsistencies in existing laws and dealing with the unequal treatment of men and women in the legal system. For instance, in Mongolia there were no provisions on prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace or laws against human trafficking. Further, the effective application and execution of laws that depend largely on implementation and enforcement systems also required review and modification.

No agency had been assigned to enforce or monitor adherence to laws and regulations relating to gender equality. No systems existed to determine compliance with newly drafted laws on gender equality and nondiscrimination. The public’s lack of awareness on legal rights and general ignorance of the law was a concern, along with the limited capacity of implementing and enforcing agencies. Accessibility to legal support and services by the poor, especially women and children, were limited.

ADB through the GAD Fund supported the Government’s preparatory work on developing the Gender Equality Law through financing the extensive stakeholder consultations and advocacy campaigns. The extensive consultation process included participatory workshops and consultations with key stakeholders including, members of parliament, the judiciary and law enforcement officials, policy makers, civil society, media and the public.

Drafting the Bill

The Women’s Caucus, a parliamentary working group with representatives from Parliament, various ministries, and the National Commission on Gender Equality, was formed in December 2005 to draft the Gender Equality Law and to provide a framework to integrate gender equality in legal structures, institutions, and procedures.  Various task forces and working groups were set up with representatives from government and non-government organizations (NGOs) to undertake in-depth analysis of gender disparities that required policy action.

The National Committee on Gender Equality (NCGE) was established to serve as the implementing agency for the project. Following diagnostic analysis, the initial drafting of the law was completed in 2008, following a lengthy, participatory process involving 16 versions of the draft bill. The process took extensive review and discussion among key stakeholders. Cabinet endorsed the revised draft in 2009.

Stakeholder Consultations on the Gender Equality Law

The project adopted a consultative approach with key stakeholders throughout the drafting process to build ownership and consensus. Media education and public awareness campaigns on gender equality were organized and conducted. Key messages were formulated and fact sheets were also developed to aid the campaign. Key persons in government, parliament and other key stakeholders were targeted in the advocacy campaigns while ensuring their participation in the law making process.

The project also contributed to developing the gender mainstreaming capacity of national focal agencies and institutions.  The process of drafting, reviewing, and revising the bill, combined with major advocacy efforts to promote policy dialogue on the proposed legal reforms, also generated greater awareness and understanding of the importance of gender equality among key stakeholders, including policymakers, the judiciary, law enforcement bodies, the legal community, civil society, the media, and the public.

Getting Key Stakeholders on Board

Extensive review of the draft law was carried out after consultations with representatives from the justice system and the legal community, trade unions, employers’ organizations and NGOs. An annotated version of the draft law was also prepared for review by local stakeholders.  The inputs and feedback collected from all the stakeholders through the workshops, training seminars, stakeholder meetings and consultations were fed into the drafting process. The law’s compatibility with international standards, such as Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, was also positively assessed by international teams from the International Labour Organization and United Nations Human Rights Council.
Agreements were reached by key stakeholders including the women’s rights and civil society advocates and the government agencies in particular the ministry of justice and ministry of social welfare and labor, National Commission on Human Rights. One of the key steps that helped to move the Law forward was obtaining the commitment and endorsement of the top echelons of the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Informing the Public Through Media

Advocacy and lobbying efforts for the law were complemented with education and awareness-raising for key stakeholders and training of key advocates and promoters.  The media played a critical role in educating the public on the issue. The NCGE working group of experts provided key messages on the concept, terms, interpretations of gender equality as well as policies and measures that ensure equality between men and women in various spheres of social life.

Parallel funding from United Nations Development P enabled development of a television program titled “Let us talk about gender” which was broadcast on a series of TV channels including MNBTV, the official state-funded television channel, involving renowned public opinion leaders including gender experts, public figures, representatives from civil society and NGOs, the academe and representatives from the arts and culture industry.

One of the main daily newspapers in the country also carried a statement by Mr. Batkhuu G., the deputy speaker of the parliament, in support of the bill. “The constitution of Mongolia declares the country as a humane, civil and democratic society that cherishes human rights and freedoms and equality of all persons,” he wrote. He expressed his hope that a majority of the MPs would support the draft gender equality law and assured them that the social and economic conditions were right to deliberate on the issue and respond to it.

From Bill to Law

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In February 2011, the Gender Equality Law was finally adopted by the Mongolian Parliament. Among its features, the law prohibits any forms of discrimination in the spheres of family relations including gender based violence and sexual harassment.  Furthermore, the law explicitly requires employers to take preventive measures against all forms of sexual harassment (verbal, behavioral and physical) in the workplace and to create zero-tolerance on sexual harassment in the workplace. The passage of the Law, sets the standards to ensure the equal participation of women and men in all political, legal, economic, cultural, and social spheres.

The chairperson of the UN Gender Theme Group praised Mongolia for the institutionalization of a national body to coordinate efforts on gender equality. “This crucial step forward recognizes just how important it is to understand how policies and practice impact men and women differently and ensures that the response recognizes their needs appropriately,” Mrs. Rana Flowers, chairperson of the UN Gender Theme Group said.

While the passage of the law is a milestone, the challenge will be to live up to the requirements of the law and to effectively implement its provisions.

Outcomes of the Project

  • The revised draft law was endorsed by the Secretariat of the Cabinet and disseminated to relevant ministries and agencies, including the Supreme Court and other offices in the justice system in 2009.
  • NCGE organized advocacy seminars and meetings with key government agencies, senior and mid-level public servants, to inform and prepare them for the potential adoption of the bill
  • The final draft was presented to NGOs for discussion.

The law was approved by the Parliament in February 2011.