[Brussels, 13 December 2017] To mark the International Day of Human Rights (10th December) the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) held a high level conference event titled “Istanbul Convention: What policies transform commitments into reality?”, as the highlight of our project Loud and United to end violence against women and girls, in partnership with the Council of Europe. The event took place on the 6th December at the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the European Union in Brussels. Find here the full agenda of the event and here an album with all the pictures of the day .
The EWL Loud and United conference brought together experts of the EWL Observatory on violence against women and girls and academics to discuss violence against women as an European Issue and the most widespread violation of women human rights in Europe (Find more information in the EWL Factsheet on Disrupting the continuum of violence against women and girls).
The EWL Observatory experts took stock of the latest developments at both EU and Member states level in regards to the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention. Participants assessed the key contemporary challenges when it comes to combating violence against women and took the opportunity to monitor the progress with regards to the implementation of the Istanbul Convention at EU and national level. The event also provided an occasion to facilitate an exchange with key national, EU and Council of Europe decision makers, ensuring their continued commitment in putting an end to violence against women and girls.
- EWL Executive Committee Member, Laura Albu Opening Remarks
As Laura Albu, EWL Executive Committee member, highlighted in her welcoming words to the conference violence against women is not abstract: it is a highly political issue and it should be a top political priority. She reminded the audience that the Istanbul Convention, which entered into force 4 years ago, is the most comprehensive treaty on this issue and a key tool to improve legislation and policies. However, at present only 17 EU member states have ratified it and more progress is needed to ensure that its provisions are implemented across Europe. At EU Level, there have been important steps in relation to the signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU and the declaration of 2017 as EU year of focused action to end violence against women.
- Speaking Truth to Power; Decision Makers Panel
As Iliana Balabanova-Stoicheva, EWL Vicepresident, highlighted in her concluding remarks, this EWL Conference served to highlight the different aspects that need to be urgently addressed in policies and legislations at national and EU level to transform the existent commitments into a loudly demanded reality: a reality where women and girls in Europe can live a life free from violence and fear.
At the conference, we had also the opportunity to get to know the initiatives with regards to the Istanbul Convention of several members of the European Coalition to end violence against women. The European Disability Forum, EuroMed Rights, End FGM European Network and WAGGGS presented their initiatives and campaigns to address violence against women and girls.The EWL is pleased to have used this high level conference to highlight the continuum of violence against all women and girls and the importance of civil society and women’s organisations’ in providing support and raising awareness. EWL vice-president, Iliana Balavanova, also invited the institutional guests present at the event to continue to work with in collaboration with women organisations to ensure that women and girls can live a life free from violence in the EU.
Violence against women exists, and we are committed to continue to speak out about it. The EWL calls on all member states and the European Union to ratify and fully implement the Istanbul Convention; and to develop a comprehensive EU Strategy led by an EU Coordinator to end all forms of violence against women and girls! (See at the end of this article all our key EWL political demands).
At a later stage the EWL will be disseminating a more detailed overview of the conference and the key messages from all of the panel discussions. You can also see the entire #LoudUnited social media campaign and continue to engage in the Twitter discussion here.
Be sure to look out for the conference video coming soon and sign the “Rise up against violence” petition calling for the urgent ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU!
This event acted as a follow up to the International Conference “Loud and United to end violence against women and girls” organised by the EWL in June 2017 in Brussels city hall, which marked the 20th anniversary of the EWL Observatory on violence against women and girls. See a brief video of this event with our key messages here
Key EWL political demands to end violence against women and girls
The EWL and its Observatory on violence against women and girls have been calling for an EU action to end violence against women for 20 years. Now we are happy to see change coming. But we expect real change, not just a reform. What do we want?
- The recognition, by the EU and its Member States, of all forms of male violence against women as part of a continuum of violence against women because they are women;
- The ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention by all EU member states and by the EU;
- A comprehensive EU strategy to end all forms of male violence against women and girls, and providing assistance and support to all women and girls victims; Of course we also need a strong EU strategy on equality between women and girls to address all the structural issues that fuels violence against women and girls.
- Within this umbrella, we call for the appointment of an EU coordinator to end violence against women and girls, with a strong political mandate to coordinate the efforts of the different EU agencies and Institutions and support the efforts at national level;
- We call for systematic consultation of and sustainable funding for women’s organisations providing support to women and girls victims, and developing advocacy and awareness raising campaigns, at EU, national and local levels