EWL News

A busy weekend for women’s rights - 100 feminist activists gather in Brussels

[Brussels, 8 June 2023] This weekend from 9-11 June 2023, over 100 feminist activists from across Europe will come together for EWL’s annual General Assembly.

The EWL members will meet in person in Brussels for the first time after several years of online meetings. Following the exciting and long awaited news about the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention and amidst the ongoing negotiations around the proposal for the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence, this weekend will present a great opportunity for EWL members to celebrate the achievements made in the past year, prepare for the eventful year ahead and advocate for more efforts in making Europe a more feminist space for all.

On Friday, 9 June 2023 the EWL will present its Manifesto for the EU elections in 2024 to the representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission. This event discussing women’s representation in decision-making and ways to improve it will take place at the European Parliament where the EWL members will be greeted by a video message from Commissioner Helena Dalli before hearing a keynote speech by EP Vice President Evelyn Regner. Among the panelists, the EWL is excited to welcome Irena Moozova (Director at the European Commission for Equality and Non Discrimination), Katarzyna Szkuta (Advisor for European and International Affairs at the cabinet of Belgian Secretary of State for Gender Equality), MEP Manon Aubrey (GUE/NGL, France), MEP Özlem Alev Demirel (GUE/NGL, Germany), MEP Evin Incir (S&D, Sweden), Oleksandra Domagalo (Ukrainian Women’s Association of Belgium), Aslihan Tekin (EWL Board member from Turkish National Coordination), Jéromine Andolfatto (EWL Policy and Campaigns Officer) and Réka Sáfrány (EWL President). The closing remarks will be delivered by Barbara Hendricks, operatic soprano, refugee advocate and feminist activist.

Also on Friday, the EWL and We Move will be sharing with the European Commission more than 78.000 signatures of our petition “Make Europe a safe place for all women and girls”. The petition calls for the swift adoption of a strong and enhanced Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence, which needs to criminalise all forms of sexual exploitation of women and all forms of online violence against women and girls. The signatures will be delivered to the Spanish Presidency of the Council in the coming weeks ahead of the trialogue negotiations that will soon start. At this moment, we will remind the Member States about their commitments to women’s rights and the importance of not excluding many crucial aspects of the Directive, particularly the harmonised definition of rape, which is unfortunately the approach that will be adopted by the Council this same Friday.

The Friday event at the European Parliament will conclude with a photo action organised by the EWL and WeMove Europe at Park Leopold, in front of the House of European History. We will take this opportunity to celebrate the historic achievement of EU accession to the Istanbul Convention with feminist activists, decision-makers and civil society representatives. On this occasion, we will also recognise the collective effort made to achieve this decision by leaving purple handprints on a banner that will also symbolise the work we are still committing to do together to offer to the victims of violence against women the support they need and the reparation they deserve.

The activities will continue on Saturday and Sunday, where the delegates representing the EWL’s 48 full members will take part in many important discussions. Members will vote on proposed reviews of the EWL Statutes, discuss the Strategic Framework implementation plans, report back on the work done with Ukrainian and Moldovan women in the past year and revisit the political priorities for the organisation in the year to come. The members will also have the important task of electing a new President, Executive Committee and Board of Administration, which will together lead the EWL in the following two years. We will say goodbye to many Board members whose work in their countries and within the EWL helped secure many crucial gains for women’s rights, such as the Women on Board Directive, the Pay Transparency Directive and the proposal for a Directive to combat violence against women.

During this busy period for women’s rights, we are excited to welcome our members back to Brussels and come together with our fellow feminists for an inspiring and energising weekend!

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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