85th CEDAW Session – Venezuela

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – 85th Session on Venezuela

18 May 2023

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system. It requires countries to eliminate discrimination against women and girls in all areas and promotes women’s equal rights to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

On May 18, 2023, Venezuela was reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. The committee
highlighted a series of problems by formulating questions addressed to the delegation about
human trafficking and womens health problems. The delegation indicated that the
situation in the country is caused by imposed sanctions and the repercussions on the economy,
thus affecting a large part of the population and their rights (in particular, those of women).

Venezuela is experiencing great challenges such as emigration. This phenomenon can lead to
women falling into the hands of criminal organizations and thus running the risk of being
subjected to sexual violence and slavery, prostitution, and human trafficking. The delegation,
therefore, outlined the States efforts in this area by referring to the creation of several
investigative bodies specialized in human trafficking. In the next two weeks the delegation
will submit the countries plan on human trafficking. The second challenge that Venezuela is
facing regards the health sector where there is a shortage of medicines, such as those for the
treatment of breast cancer, which is impacting Venezuelan women.

Despite these challenges, the Venezuelan government has highlighted its achievements in
eliminating discrimination against women, citing the following results: the participation of
women in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering subjects representing 42%
of the population; the creation of a program to support a large proportion of indigenous
women; and the participation of 70% of women in investment stimulus programs. The
Venezuelan delegation also announced its efforts to eradicate stereotypes, particularly in
science, by revising curricula and books in public and private schools. In addition, the
government has committed to more than 2,500 training and awareness-raising activities on
womens rights. In 2022, the Public Prosecutors Office launched two awareness campaigns
on child and adolescent sexual abuse.

The delegation stated that a reform of the Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of
Violence had been carried out, introducing changes such as the crime of femicide and
aggravated femicide, which are punishable by the maximum of penalty (30 years). The
government has also increased the number of courts and the number of judges, including
those with special functions, thus guaranteeing justice to all women victims of violence. The
government claims to be making progress in the protection of the indigenous population by
creating a special body for the protection of the most vulnerable population.

Despite all the progress Venezuela is making with respect to the last review 9 years ago, the
country still must face several challenges: a large migratory flow experienced by Venezuela
for the first time in its 200-year history; prostitution and exploitation especially of women
and girls; and lack of medicines.