[Brussels, 26 June 2019] On 7-8 June 2019, EWL members adopted five Emergency Motions during our annual General Assembly. These motions, put forward to the General Assembly by EWL’s National Coordinations or European Wide Members, call on EWL to take actions and position on emerging or urgent issues impacting on women’s rights nationally or internationally. Our General Assembly this year adopted five emergency motions on different questions, including on the Istanbul Convention, a green ecological transition, abortion rights and membership fees. Read all the motions below.
Ratification of Istanbul Convention by the Czech Republic, presented by the Czech Women´s Lobby
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the Istanbul Convention) is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence and it is the obligation of the state to fully address it in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. The situation in the Czech Republic is crucial as the state fails to take responsibility to tackle this in its complexity. The Czech Republic must ratify the Istanbul Convention to secure women´s lives as well as to secure the democracy and women´s rights in the country.
The Czech Republic signed the Istanbul Convention in 2016 and promised to ratify it by the end of 2018. We are still waiting and on the contrary we can currently observe a great reluctance towards the ratification by MPs in the Czech Parliament. Thanks to a rising populism and backlash against women´s rights in Central and Eastern Europe, our position in lobbying for ratification has weakened. The Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has been contributing to the spread of false information about impacts of the Istanbul Convention on society. In 2018 most fake news published in the media where about the Istanbul Convention.
The Czech Women’s Lobby asks for support from the EWL to continue to put pressure at national and EU level for the Parliament of the Czech Republic to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
Actions against legislative threats against women’s rights in Italy and in others EU Countries, presented by the Italian Coordination of the European Women’s Lobby
The so called draft law proposal “Pillon”, pending in the Italian Parliament, infringes the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which has been signed and ratified by Italy, in particular when it comes to child custody, the introduction of compulsory mediation, the assumption of the falsity of abuse reports, the introduction of the parental alienation syndrome, and the sanctions for the mothers who put forward complaints; neglecting the impact of male violence against women and intimate partner violence. We therefore ask EWL to monitor the situation and counteract immediately in case of approval of this law in Italy by involving the EU and the Council of Europe competent bodies.
Far right governments and parliaments are threatening acquired women’s rights, not only in Italy but in other EU countries. The Istanbul Convention is being interpreted as a threat to women’s competencies and roles for those who defend a conservative ideology. There are several attempts in different EU countries to introduce amendments in family laws, including imposing the share of child custody as the default rule. There is also an attempt to use the parental alienation syndrome in courts, even in situations of intimate partner violence.
The Italian Coordination for the EWL asks that the EWL develops a strategy and action plan to act against these threats to women’s rights, not only at national level, but at the EU, Council of Europe and UN levels. The EWL Observatory on violence against women and girls should prioritise a piece of work around custody and visiting rights in the framework of the implementation to the Istanbul Convention, including developing a mapping on the situation at national level and coming up with a draft policy statement for discussion and adoption by the EWL members.
Green ecological transition and women, presented by the French Coordination for the EWL (CLEF)
We are calling on the EWL to act so that the European institutions truly integrate gender equality in public policies in line with a sustainable development approach. We also ask the EWL to organise actions that call upon the implementation of environmental alternatives that break away from the European Union’s approach to competition. The aim is to re-establish an economy that is managed and mindful of sustainable development, equality between women and men, justice and respect for all people across the world.
The Paris Climate Agreement, the European Parliament resolutions on women and climate change/justice, the mobilisations of citizens calling for a much-needed transition in terms of environment and energy - among them many women and young people - and the inclusion of environmental preservation as well as combatting inequalities as one of the G7’s priorities, show the importance of the link between equality between women and men and a transition to an environmentally-conscious, democratic system of solidarity.
The CLEF asks the EWL to put pressure on the EU institutions and to the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union to integrate a gender perspective in current and upcoming public policies, taking into account the foreseeable impact of the climate crisis. The EWL should also integrate this thematic in the review of our current Strategic Framework, including taking into consideration women in climatic crisis zones.
Revise and reform the European Women’s Lobby’s membership fee payment policy, presented by Hungarian Women’s Lobby
The motion by the Hungarian Women’s Lobby asks the EWL to consider introducing a “sliding scale” membership fee system or any other system to address members’ different financial capabilities. The financial problems faced by certain members of EWL have mostly structural-political reasons, as there is a disparity between women’s rights NGOs’ financial and political situation and possibilities. While in mostly Western states our members can for example receive state funding for their core work and higher membership fees from their members, in other countries, mostly in the Central Eastern Europe Baltic and Balkan States region, national members cannot count on such support or, as they are increasingly persecuted politically, are even blocked from funds accessible on national level. In this context, the EWL Membership Committee, composed of 6 EWL Board Members, should initiate research on different scenarios around membership fees on which the decision can be based, to come back with ideas for discussion at the next Board Meeting and then a proposal for review of membership fees to the next General Assembly.
Reproductive health and rights in Northern Ireland, presented by the UK Joint Committee on Women
EWL is gravely concerned that women in Northern Ireland continue to experience human rights violations in accessing full reproductive healthcare, including an abortion law that is among the most restrictive in the world. We urge the UK Government to implement without further delay the recommendations from the UN CEDAW enquiry and examination so that women in Northern Ireland have the same access to abortion healthcare as in the rest of the UK.
Events in Alabama have pushed reproductive justice to the top of the public agenda in the UK. Women in Northern Ireland face an ongoing emergency in terms of a punitive law that means that they have to travel to Great Britain to access abortion healthcare, including in the case of rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality. The UK Government is breaching international human rights law, and ignoring the requirement of the UN CEDAW Committee that it act.
The UK Joint Committee on Women asks the EWL to put pressure on the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to ensure women in Northern Ireland access their full reproductive healthcare rights.