EWL News

Rise up against violence!

[Brussels, 25 November 2020] 25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW) and the start of the 16 days of activism to end VAW. On this occasion, EWL is calling on all to sign the Rise Up against violence petition supported by WeMove Europe. We are urging the EU and all European countries to make Europe a safe place for all women and girls.


Why is this important?

Male violence against women and girls is a long-term systemic issue across Europe. It is the most pervasive violation of women’s human rights, rooted in our societies’ culture of sexism. It has life-long implications for women’s physical and mental health.

This is an emergency situation threatening the security and dignity of women’s lives. It precedes the COVID-19 pandemic crisis but the situation has even worsened since March: lockdown and isolation measures have created an enabling environment for abusers and have lead to more incidents of physical, psychological and sexual violence.

Also, during this pandemic crisis, women victims/survivors of male violence have had less access to help and protection. They have faced further isolation which can have serious mental consequences, especially for women facing multiple forms of discrimination.

There can be no peace and security while women fear for their safety in their homes, workplaces and in public spaces across Europe.

What can we do?

Good laws can change whole societies, and the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, is to date the most advanced legal framework to end violence against women and girls. It gives our states powerful binding tools to provide protection, prosecute perpetrators, and prevent different forms of violence that millions of women encounter every day1.

The EU signed the Convention in 2017, but a signature is not enough - to be effective, the convention must be ratified and applied broadly. Unfortunately, for a few years now, the negotiations between the EU countries have been blocked.

Although all 27 EU Member States have signed the Istanbul Convention, six countries—Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania—still haven’t ratified it. Moreover, in July 2020, the Polish government announced its intention to withdraw from the Convention. This is of great concern for all women in Europe who, now more than ever, need to see strong concerted EU action against male violence against women and girls.

We urge the EU and all European countries to adopt strong legislation to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual exploitation and online violence, and to implement the standards of the Istanbul Convention.

We call on EU decision-makers to step up their efforts, in times of crisis and beyond, to ensure no women or girl is left behind and to disrupt the full continuum of violence against women and girls.

We also call on the EU to ensure adequate funding to address the emergency situation with regards to violence against women and girls, by ensuring that the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the New Generation EU fund provide adequate resources for women’s civil society organisations working on ending male VAWG and supporting its victims.

This year, despite the limitations, we will join the 16 days of activism once again to say loudly and firmly that women want to live a life free from violence and from the fear of it.

Raise your voice and join the almost 190,000 signers to our petition by signing it here.

To stay updated about EWL initiatives for the 16 days of activism on Violence Against Women, check our accounts on Twitter and Facebook.


  • Luxembourg: the Conseil National des Femmes du Luxembourg ran an online action ‘Let’s say no to violence’
  • Belgium: le Conseil des femmes francophones de Belgique, in partnership with Vrouwenraad (NVR), launched their online campaign on femicide and VAWG on 20 November/ Le Conseil des femmes francophones de Belgique, en collaboration avec le Vrouwenraad (NVR), lance sa campagne virtuelle sur les féminicides et les violences faites aux femmes
  • The European Disability Forum hosted a webinar on ending violence against women and girls with disabilities on 24 November.
  • WAGGGS launched a global campaign, around the theme of victim blaming, with the hashtag #notHERfault. They are asking young people around the world to share their experiences of victim blaming and VAWG, and they have prepared an activity pack to support volunteer youth leaders in starting conversations with young people (boys and girls) about VAWG and victim blaming.
  • UK, England, IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation hosted a conversation on ‘honour’-based abuse on 24 November.
  • Portugal - PpDM ran a social media campaign, sharing EWL’s translated materials, as well as other materials including those from the Portuguese Government’s official campaign.
  • Austria: Austrian Women’s Ring shared important messages on their platforms, including the Rise up against violence!petition, messages concerning women human rights defenders and persons with disability, statistics about reporting violence in Austria and content on the international Human Rights Day.
  • Greece: the Greek Coordination participated in a high level conference on violence against women on 23 November, presenting EWL’s work and the Coordination’s activities during the pandemic. On 27 November, the Greek Coordination co-organised an open discussion with Vice President of the European Parliament Mr Dimitris Papadimoulis and the Greek MEP Mrs. Eliza Voseberg, member of the FEMM Committee.
  • Croatia: Croatian members have organised a wide range of events and activities, from physical protests to online film screenings.
  • Motivated by the serious setbacks in women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Europe, EWL Member Soroptimist International of Europe issued a statement defending the right to freely decide to attain the highest standard of SRHR. Read the full statement urging all European governments and the European Commission to develop a comprehensive binding proposal on SRHR that is aligned with research and guiding principles, and to coordinate women’s health as a priority in accordance to the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
  • EWL Spain issued their support to the campaign launched by the Federation of businesswomen and professionals BPW Spain that fights against the rise in the quota of the self-employed.
  • Sweden’s Women’s Lobby contributed to an article calling for investment in wages in welfare and closing the wage gap.
  • The Gender & Diversity Hub of Utrecht University, the Center for Inclusive Leadership and the Dutch Women’s Council have discussed the bill that focuses on the number of women on boards of large companies.
  • National Women’s Council of Ireland organised a discussion to explore gender-based harassment from different perspectives under two pillars of the Istanbul Convention - Prevention and Protection. The event gathered speakers from SiSi, Women’s Aid, Akidiwa, and Finnish Disability Forum.
  • Finland: NYTKIS organized a remote discussion event in which Anna Nuotio, Marianne Laxén and Merja-Hannele Vuohelainen recalled their time at NYTKIS and the origins of the idea of ​​cooperation between women’s organizations.
  • Estonia: ENU issued a call to suspend the draft international regulation on surrogacy initiated by the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
  • Latvia: On 10 December, REL Latvia broadcasted interviews with four Roma activists.
  • Romanian Women’s Lobby and Associazione Donne Romene in Italia - ADRI organised a discussion with Romanian women living in diaspora on the topic of sexism.
  • Czechia: Our members participated in a campaign to raise awareness about violence against women and girls and call for more protective and preventive measures.
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom released a video with WILPF members from across the world sharing messages on what inspires them to build a feminist and peaceful tomorrow.
  • BPW Europe has been nominated to receive an honorary mention in the 2020 G7 – EU WEPs Award competition, in the category: Best Network.
  • European Network of Migrant Women held a webinar on best practices in legal assistance and integration support to female migrant victims of sex trafficking in Europe.
  • ETUC released a statement advocating for extra protection against online harassment for women working from home.
  • YWCA prepared a toolkit for advocating to end violence against women and girls.
  • During the first-ever virtual IAW triennial Congress, the IAW commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
  • ICJW issued a statement in support of the Orange Week, encouraging its members to continue to be activists in their countries and to provide support for victims of violence.

[1] The Istanbul Convention: A vital opportunity to end violence against women: https://www.womenlobby.org/IMG/pdf/european_coalition_factsheet_final_all_logos_8_march.pdf

Latest video

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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