European & International News

Malaysian High Court rules that CEDAW is directly applicable

[Brussels, 19 July 2011] A relief teacher in Malaysia has won her case against the Education Ministry and the government on the basis of the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) - to which Malaysia became a signatory in 1995. The High Court ruled that CEDAW had the force of law and is binding in Malaysia.

Norfadilla Ahmad Saikin, 29, took the government to court when she was refused employment due to pregnancy.

The court recognised that the government had to commit to CEDAW, and to adopt the article regarding discrimination against women under its Article 11.

Article 11 of CEDAW requires countries to protect women’s rights to work, to ensure that women have the same training and employment opportunities as men, that women receive equal pay for work of equal value, that women have access to the same benefits, compensatory schemes, and allowances as men, especially in relation to retirement and incapacity to work.

The article further requires that countries prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of marriage, pregnancy and maternity leave, introduce paid maternity leave without loss of benefits or career opportunities, and encourage the provision of supporting social services to allow parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities.

Nurfadilla also argued the case under Article 8(2), which pertains to discrimination on the grounds of ’religion, race, descent, gender or place of birth… in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority’.

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