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All EWL Press Releases, ready to download. Spread the word! For more info, background information, quotes or visual materials, or to organise an interview with our staff or members, do not hesitate to contact the EWL Communications and Media Officer on +32 2 210 04 40.

 

Media Advisory - 4 years overdue, it’s time to deliver

Posted on 17 October 2014

Media Advisory - 4 years overdue, it's time to deliver

[Brussels, 17 October]

Attn: News Editor RE: Tuesday 21.10.14 - 14:00 – 15:00 pm – Demonstration to mark the 4th anniversary of the Maternity Leave Directive – let’s call on the EU decision-makers to deliver now! In front of the European Parliament, Strasbourg

4 YEARS OVERDUE – IT’S TIME TO DELIVER! It’s time for better maternity rights for all women in Europe

WHO The European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), will be in Strasbourg to call on the new European Commission and the Council of the European Union to move ahead on the adoption of the new Maternity Leave Directive.

WHY • The proposed Maternity Leave Directive was adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in its first reading on 20th October 2014. • It has nonetheless been blocked by Member State governments in the Council of the EU for four years. • The Commissioner-designate for Justice, Consumers and Gender Vera Jourova, and the Commissioner-designate for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Market Mobility Marianna Thyssen, committed to engage the European Commission in unblocking the negotiations with the Council of the EU. • The proposal provides a number of forward-looking measures including 20 weeks fully paid maternity leave, strengthened measures to protect women from dismissal on return and two weeks fully paid paternity leave also available to same sex couples. • Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life-long often irreversible consequences, including the fact that women receive on average 40% less pension than men. • Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work.

WHY NOW • The 20th October marks the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Maternity Leave Directive by the European Parliament in its first reading. • The Commissioners-designate Vera Jourova and Marianne Thyssen took a strong stand on the issue. The European Women’s Lobby calls them on making their commitment a reality as soon as the new College of Commissioners is approved by the European Parliament.

HOW • 14:00: Gathering in front of the European Parliament • 14:15 – 14:30: Speeches by Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General, and Members of the European Parliament from different political groups • 15:00: End of the event

Opportunities for interviews: • Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General • Mary Collins, Policy Officer on Economics and Social Policy

For more information, you can: • visit EWL website : www.womenlobby.org • Follow EWL through Twitter : @EuropeanWomen


ends------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact: • Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer, buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 40, +32 (0)496 86 48 26 • Jessica Machacova, EWL Policy Officer, machacova@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 28, +33 (0)7 78 34 59 55 • Mary Collins, EWL Policy Officer Economics and Social Policy & Membership Coordinator, collins@womenlobby.org, +32 (0)2/210 04 20

Note to editors: The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations. More information: www.womenlobby.org

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SOS – DELIVER NOW! Bring back the Maternity Leave Directive

Posted on 23 September 2014

SOS – DELIVER NOW! Bring back the Maternity Leave Directive

[Brussels, 23 September 2014] At the eve of the forthcoming hearings of the new European Commission, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) calls on the new Commission in particular Ms Jourova Commissioner responsible for Gender Equality, and Ms Thyssen Commissioner responsible for Employment, to save the Maternity Leave Directive, which has been on the table since 2010 and recently threatened to be withdrawn by the European Commission, in the name of red tape. We particularly expect that Commissioner Jourova, in her role as Commissioner responsible for Gender Equality a newly welcomed post in the future Commission, will act immediately and save the Maternity Leave Directive.

“The threat to remove the Maternity Leave Directive from the legislative process is serious as it negates Europe’s rhetoric on its commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe. Adopting a stronger maternity leave Directive would have a positive and direct benefit to millions of families and would send a positive message to people across the EU that it is committed to their rights.” states Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

The EWL invites everyone who wants to make their voice heard to save the Maternity Directive to bring it back on the European political agenda, to a “PHOTO BOOTH” event at the Esplanade in front of the European Parliament, between 12:30-14:30 on Wednesday 24th September to show SOLIDARITY for women in Europe.

“Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work.” stated Mary Collins, EWL Policy Officer “Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it is often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life- long often irreversible consequences, as their pension is 40% less than men.”

The European Women’s Lobby calls on all the European institutions to DELIVER NOW! Calls on the European Parliament to maintain its position, adopted by an overwhelming majority in 2010 and calls on the EU Member States to engage and move forward for a robust Maternity Directive to ensure that all women in Europe have equal rights.

Sign the online petition here. Tweet on the hashtag: #DeliverNow

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL)

The EWL is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. www.womenlobby.org

The Maternity leave Directive:

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive, adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in first reading on 20 October 2010, has been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years despite ongoing attempts to find a negotiated position and subsequent decision which never materialised.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive is an all-encompassing set of proposals to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers and women returning to work following childbirth and/or who are breastfeeding. These include, up to 20 weeks fully paid leave, a mandatory six-week rest period before or after birth whenever they choose, extension of the same rights to domestic workers and adoptive mothers, specific measures for multiple births and disabilities, protection from dismissal for six months, protection from imposed night shifts and overtime and flexibility for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, a two-week fully paid paternity leave provision is included in the European Parliament’s adopted position, which bridges the gap in relation to paternity leave (also available to same sex couples) as there is no European Directive on this form of leave. It should also be noted that a passerelle clause is included for countries where a strong parental leave framework is in place, which means that the reality of the situation in different countries is taken into account and that women who are pregnant, have given birth and/or who are breastfeeding have the same rights throughout the European Union.

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No More Excuses. Gender Equality after the elections – What’s next?

Hosted by MEP Ulrike Lunacek

Posted on 28 August 2014

Wednesday 9 July 2014, 13h - 18h Conference in the European Parliament, Brussels Room A1 G-3

[9 July 2014] Final conference of 50/50 and Parity Democracy for Europe Campaign: No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality!

Ahead of the May 2014 European Parliament elections, the European Women’s Lobby and partner organisations have been running parity campaigns to raise greater awareness of the importance of gender parity in politics.

Now, we know that the percentage of women in the European Parliament stands at almost 37%, this is a very small increase of 1,75% in comparison to the European elections in 2009. “At this pace it will take half a century until we reach gender parity” EWL Secretary General Joanna Maycock already stated with regards to these results.

This event will address the outcomes of the 2014 European Parliament elections from a gender perspective.

We hope that by the end of the day, you will have gained a better understanding of the state of play with regards to women in politics at national and EU level.

How can you support campaigns to boost women on their political path to ensure that more women reach political decision making positions across Europe?

At this event we will further discuss the impact of the Parity Democracy and European EWL 50/50 campaigns to measure the progress of these campaigns.

This conference on gender parity will test a series of principles that we have been developing around parity democracy. What are the challenges ahead and why it is important to have equal representation of women and men in positions of power?

We are delighted to announce that a keynote speech will be held by Jessica N. Grounds, former Executive Director and Co-Founder of Running Start, who will share US perspectives on achieving greater participation of women in politics.

Find here the programme of the day here & more information on the speakers.

Read the European Women’s Lobby Press Release on the European Parliament 2014 election results here

Media representatives with and without accreditation to the EU institutions are kindly requested to register here.

Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to associations in all 28 EU member states and 3 candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. www.womenlobby.org @EuropeanWomen

Partner organisations Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies Romanian Women’s Lobby Forum 50% Women Employment Information Centre

With the support of United States Mission to the European Union

Funded by The EU’s Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme The Progress Programme of the European Union Open Society Foundations

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Guy Verhofstadt endorses European Women’s Lobby’s elections Manifesto and 50/50 campaign

Posted on 28 August 2014

Thursday 8 May 2014, 12h30 European Women’s Lobby Headquarters, Brussels

[8 May 2014] Two weeks before the European elections, Guy Verhofstadt, candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission for the Liberal ALDE-party, officially backs the demands of the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union.

For the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) achieving substantive equality between women and men, promoting women’s rights and empowering women and girls should be an absolute priority of the European Union (EU) and its Member States.

The Manifesto "Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!" comprises the main concrete demands of the EWL for the coming European elections and calls for meaningful change towards equality for all. At the moment, it is endorsed by more than 40 MEPs and candidates.

The Manifesto makes three general demands: a comprehensive framework to achieve gender equality through notably the establishment of an EU Coordinator on women’s rights and gender equality; sustainable funding for gender equality; and credible EU policies on gender equality at international level. It also focuses on the importance of promoting women’s economic independence, the urgency for firm measures to end violence against women including through designating 2016 as the EU Year to End Violence against women and girls, the guarantee of equality in paid and unpaid work for men and women, and the taking into account of women’s diversity in needs.

Via the demands of its 50/50 campaign, the EWL additionally seeks to tackle the under-representation of women in EU decision-making, which it believes to be a serious democratic deficit for the EU as a whole. The 50/50 campaign aims to promote therefore the equal representation of women and men in all European institutions and to put women’s rights and gender equality high on the EU political agenda. The EWL urges the future European Commission President to present a gender-balanced College and the European Parliament to elect a gender-balanced Commission and guarantee parity in all the decision-making positions within its house.

Mr Verhofstadt will sign the Manifesto in the presence of EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum at the premises of the European Women’s Lobby, Rue Hydraulique 18, 1210 Brussels, on May 8 at 12h30.

For further information please contact: Elvira Buijink, Communications and Media Officer, European Women’s Lobby buijink@womenlobby.org, 02 210 04 40

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MY BODY, MY DECISIONS

Posted on 28 August 2014

Friday 04.04.2014 - 15:00 pm - Public action to defend abortion right in Europe Place du Luxembourg in front of the European Parliament Brussels

[4 April 2014] Women’s futures under threat: public action to defend abortion right in Europe

WHO On Friday 4 April 2014, more than 50 national women’s rights organisations, members of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) representing a total of more than 2000 organisations from all over Europe will be in Brussels to stand up together for the right to abortion.

WHY • The right to take informed decisions about one’s own life is a basic human right and a crucial matter for gender equality. • Recent developments in EU member states are detrimental to women’s rights. o In Spain in December 2013, the Council of Ministers approved a draft bill aiming at reforming the current law on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). If approved, abortion would be allowed in Spain only in the case of rape or if the pregnancy poses a serious physical or mental health risk to women. This would only cover 8% of the current cases of abortion. o In Lithuania, at the end of the spring session (May-June) the Lithuanian Parliament will vote on the adoption of the draft law on “Law on the protection of a life in a pre-natal phase” and accompanying legislative projects, otherwise known as the “abortion ban bill”. The law considers abortion a criminal act punishable for up to three years imprisonment. • The European Citizen’s Initiative One of Us calls on the EU to stop funding research activities that destroy human embryos and to stop all EU development aid for maternal health, on the argument that maternal health can on occasion lead to the facility of abortion services. This will immediately and substantially increase the number of unsafe abortions in the developing world, and thus increase the number of resulting horrific injuries and deaths. • The cases of individual women who have suffered the consequences of denied abortions in Europe and around the world may never be forgotten. The EWL refers to Savita Halappanavar (Ireland), Alicja Tysiac (Poland), Daniela (Spain), Valentina (Italy) but also to Beatriz in El Salvador and many others.

WHY NOW It is European elections time. 7 weeks before these elections, the EWL urges decision makers to recall that gender equality is an essential part of democracy, social justice, human rights and dignity. Find here the EWL Manifesto “Act for her future, commit for gender equality!”. The European Institutions have the power and should take the responsibility to create meaningful change towards equality for all, now and in the future.

HOW • 15:00h: Gathering on the square of Place du Luxembourg, Brussels. • 15:15h: Picture opportunity: all participants will form together a big ♀shape and will hold balloons and a banner to represent their country and organisation. • 15:25h: Speech by Viviane Teitelbaum, president of the European Women’s Lobby. • 15.30h: We will speak out for the individual women who have suffered the consequences of denied abortions in Europe: Savita Happanavar (Ireland), Alicja Tysiac (Poland), Daniela (Spain), Valentina (Italy), Marie (France). • 15:40h: A delegation will leave to meet the Cabinet of President Van Rompuy and hand over a version of the articles related to gender equality in the European Union Treaties. Also on Wednesday 9 April, a EWL delegation will meet Ms Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission. • 15:40h: Participants will distribute to the public flyers on the action and the EWL Manifesto for the Elections. • 15:55h: Event closed with the sound of our whistles calling for action towards gender equality.

Opportunities for interviews: • Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the EWL and of Conseil des Femmes francophones de Belgique (CFFB) • Pierrette Pape, Acting coordinator of the European Women’s Lobby

For more information, you can: • Visit EWL website : www.womenlobby.org • Follow EWL through Twitter : @EuropeanWomen

For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact: • Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer, buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 40, +32 (0)496 86 48 26 • Irene Rosales, EWL Policy Officer, rosales@womenlobby.org, +32 02/210 04 25, +32 (0)479 49 61 64 • Pierrette Pape, Acting Coordinator of the European Women’s Lobby, pape@womenlobby.org, +32 (0)2/210 04 26

Note to editors: The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations. More information: www.womenlobby.org

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Threats to withdraw the Maternity Leave Directive: Measures to protect women’s rights are not red tape

Posted on 28 August 2014

[Brussels, 4 July 2014] The European Women’s Lobby cries scandal as the rhetoric on women’s rights and gender equality takes a blow.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), has learned with dismay about the European Commission’s proposal to withdraw the proposed Maternity Leave Directive, as a gesture of ‘legislative management’ before the new Commission is installed. “This is a classic example of the backlash against women’s rights and gender equality in Europe. It sends a very bad signal to women and men in Europe about how much the EU can do to support real people’s rights and lives.” says Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive was adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in its first reading on 20 October 2010. It has nonetheless been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years. The proposal provides a number of forward-looking measures including 20 weeks fully paid maternity leave, strengthened measures to protect women from dismissal on return and two weeks fully paid paternity leave also available to same sex couples (see note to editors).

“The threat to remove the Maternity Leave Directive from the legislative process is serious and undermines the democratic process of the European Parliament’s adopted position. This negates Europe’s rhetoric on its commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe”, states Joanna Maycock.

Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life- long often irreversible consequences, including the fact that women receive on average 40% less pension than men. Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work. “It is unacceptable that measures to protect women’s rights are part of a trade-off to cut red tape: women’s rights are NOT red tape.” states Ms Maycock.

In an Open Letter to the newly designated President of the European Commission, the EWL calls on Mr Juncker to reject this proposal to withdraw the Maternity Leave Directive, immediately reinstate the proposal and to give his full commitment to reaching a decision with the Council. We expect the newly elected European Parliament will react strongly against this proposal and will work with the Italian Presidency towards achieving a favourable conclusion.

Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink buijink@womenlobby.org, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL)

The EWL is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. www.womenlobby.org

The Maternity leave Directive:

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive, adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in first reading on 20 October 2010, has been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years despite ongoing attempts to find a negotiated position and subsequent decision which never materialised.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive is an all-encompassing set of proposals to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers and women returning to work following childbirth and/or who are breastfeeding. These include, up to 20 weeks fully paid leave, a mandatory six-week rest period before or after birth whenever they choose, extension of the same rights to domestic workers and adoptive mothers, specific measures for multiple births and disabilities, protection from dismissal for six months, protection from imposed night shifts and overtime and flexibility for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, a two-week fully paid paternity leave provision is included in the European Parliament’s adopted position, which bridges the gap in relation to paternity leave (also available to same sex couples) as there is no European Directive on this form of leave. It should also be noted that a passerelle clause is included for countries where a strong parental leave framework is in place, which means that the reality of the situation in different countries is taken into account and that women who are pregnant, have given birth and/or who are breastfeeding have the same rights throughout the European Union.

Find this articleon our website See EWL Maternity Leave Campaign

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Europe’s small steps towards 50/50

Posted on 12 June 2014

Europe's small steps towards 50/50

[Brussels, 4 June 2014] Europe’s small steps towards 50/50 Number of women in the European Parliament increases by 1,75%: at this pace it will take half a century until we reach gender parity

One week after the European Parliament elections, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and its members has been analysing the election results with regards to the representation of elected women elected to the European Parliament. The percentage of women in the EP, the only directly elected institution of the European Union (EU), stands at almost 37%, this is an increase of 1,75% in comparison to the European elections in 2009.

EWL Secretary General, Joanna Maycock, states “with this snail’s pace it will be another half a century before the European Parliament would reach gender parity in 52 years, despite the fact that women make up more than half the EU’s population.”

GROUPS ANALYSIS - EPP stays behind.

EWL-analysis based on preliminary results by europedecides.eu/results/

A two-speed Europe for parity

The election results show a clear picture with regards to political families’ commitments to reach parity. The conservative and far right parties are lagging behind in comparison to center and left parties. During its 5050 campaign “No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality” ahead of the EP election in 2014 the EWL demanded best-fit quota systems according to the national electoral systems. Evidence shows that whether a quota/parity system reaches its objectives depends largely on effective sanctions. A conclusion which has been confirmed through the results of the EU elections 2014. In this sense for example the S&D political family performed notably well with regards to women candidates elected into the EP with a percentage of 45.5%. On the contrary the share of women is only 30.4 % in the political family of EPP.

Voter apathy and the swing to the right jeopardises women’s rights

In large parts of Europe the low voter turnout and success of far right and populist parties represent a risk to the development and implementation of progressive anti-discrimination policies including women’s rights and gender equality.

The backward looking ideology and openly misogynist views of some of the parties and individuals elected represents a challenge to Europe’s relative success in tackling gender inequality. Joanna Maycock says “we are concerned that support for women’s organisations will also be further under threat as we have already observed in our work on austerity.”

There is still a chance for a real step forward

The political families within the European Parliament have a unique chance to change the image of European Politics out of touch with voters by having a leadership which better reflects the diversity of the electorate. The political groups must give women voters and elected women the same voice and weight, as their male counterparts. Political parties have the opportunity to bring change and parity to the EP by nominating women and man as candidates for the European Parliaments presidential elections.

The EWL demands from all political groups to ensure gender parity and non-gender biased portfolios when nominating and appointing MEPs for decision-making positions in the EP.

Women are not a minority, but represent the majority of the European society. Therefore, women must be represented in all portfolios of the decision-making positions in the European Parliament. EWL Fundraising Coordinator and Policy Officer, Serap Altinisik, remarks “gender can only be mainstreamed when women have a say and are involved at all levels of decision-making by chairing for example committees of the EP.”


For more information or interviews, please contact:

✉Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer buijink@womenlobby.org -+32 02/210 04 40

✉Serap Altinisik, EWL Policy Officer and Fundraising Coordinator altinisik@womenlobby.org -+32 02/210 04 27

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MEPs and NGOs sound the alarm on anti-choice threat to maternal health

Posted on 9 April 2014

MEPs and NGOs sound the alarm on anti-choice threat to maternal health

[Brussels, 09 April 2014, Joint Press Release] European politicians and the undersigned civil society organisations called today for the European Commission to stand firm in the face of a European Citizen’s Initiative campaign that could have catastrophic consequences for maternal health in the developing world. The “One of Us” campaign, spearheaded by ultra-conservative, anti-choice movements, is the subject of a hearing at the European Parliament on Thursday, April 10th. The Commission must comment formally on the ECI by May 28th.

“One Of Us” seeks to ban EU funding for any activities that could involve the destruction of human embryos. It is demanding that the Commission cut off all funding for research on human embryonic stem cells and funding for any organisations that are involved in the provision of indirect or direct abortion or “abortion-related” services in low and middle-income countries. Almost 800 women in the developing world die every day during pregnancy and childbirth.

This initiative seriously risks hampering our fight to reduce these deaths. “This is a dangerous and regressive initiative which would abolish essential EU support for maternal healthcare, pre-natal care and voluntary family planning services in some of the world’s poorest countries,” said Neil Datta, Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF).

"Women’s rights are human rights,” said Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish Member of the European Parliament for the centre-right EPP Group. “Universality of these rights prohibits no one from choosing whether or not to apply these rights. Women’s right to decide on their own body is fundamental and cannot be overruled by religion or on any other grounds."

The “One Of Us” campaign is totally at odds with the EU’s longstanding development aid policy, and its international commitments as part of the Millennium Development Goals. Civil society trusts that, by rejecting this Initiative, the Commission will re-affirm the EU’s commitment to supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights. It must continue to play a strong global leadership role reducing maternal deaths. “The organisers of this initiative, driven by ultra-conservative anti-choice forces, are trying to impose their beliefs at any cost no matter if women’s lives are put in an immediate and significant high danger. This is not a pro-life posture; it is an open threat against women’s rights and against the basic human’s right to live in dignity”, said Viviane Teitelbaum, president of the European Women’s Lobby.

The “One of Us” initiative is the latest in a series of recent attacks on gender equality, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe and around the world. Ultra-conservative and anti-choice groups and politicians in Europe – some of whom who currently sit in the European Parliament – are now seeking to undermine the EU’s strong stance in support of women in the world’s poorest countries. “The organisers of One of Us have used the pretext of the protection of life to seek to impose anti-choice legislation that would be damaging for women’s health, researchers’ work and regenerative medicine,” said Pierre Galand, President of the European Humanist Federation. “We all value life in all its forms, and seek to create an environment where mothers and their children can thrive” added Vicky Claeys, IPPF EN Regional Director. “But the reality is that this campaign, if successful, would immediately and substantially increase the number of deaths in the developing world caused by pregnancy and delivery complications and unsafe abortions,” Claeys added.

Nicole Kiil-Nielsen French Member of the European Parliament for the Greens group added: “The EU – which has always played a leading role on this issue- should continue to promote the protection of maternal and reproductive health through its development aid."


Note to the editor

• Signatories: European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF), IPPF EN, European Women’s Lobby (EWL), Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR), European Humanist’s Federation, DSW ((Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung)

• The European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) was created by the Lisbon Treaty in 2010, and acts a mechanism by which European citizens can create a petition and bring it to the European Commission. A citizens’ initiative has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 28 member states.

• The One of Us ECI requests the following:

o Juridical protection of the dignity, the right to life and of the integrity of every human being from conception in the areas of EU competence in which such protection is of particular importance

o A ban and end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health; this includes a ban on funding for abortion, directly or indirectly, through the funding of organizations that encourage or promote abortion

• Approximately 120 million USD in EU development aid is currently spent each year to protect maternal and reproductive health. The ECI calls these funds into question.

• The EU’s position is clear – EU development funds to maternal health only goes to fund safe abortion services in countries where abortion is legal. This position has been restated by Development Commissioner Piebalgs on numerous occasions, reflecting aims and objectives of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the “Muskoka Initiative” on improving maternal, newborn and child health and other international initiatives.

At the conclusion of the One of Us public hearing (09.00-12.30) at the European Parliament on Thursday 10th April, there will be an informal press point outside the hearing meeting room (JAN 4Q2).

The following people will be available for interview and comment on the outcomes of the hearing:

• Michael Cashman MEP (UK, S&D)

• Ulrike Lunacek MEP (Austria, Greens/EFA)

• Francoise Castex MEP (France, S&D)

• Veronique de Keyser (Belgium, S&D)

• Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby

• Irene Donadio, Manager Public Affairs IPPF EN

• Neil Datta, Secretary, European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF)

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European Women’s Lobby launches a video-clip on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Posted on 25 March 2014

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women The European Women’s Lobby launches a video-clip “Europe Mobilizes against Rape”

[Brussels, 25 November 2013] Rape continues to be one of the most devastating forms of violence against women, yet it is too often a taboo subject and thus remains shrouded in silence. Research at European level indicates that only between 2% and 10% of rapes are reported. A great majority of sex crimes against women are undisclosed and sexual violence remains underestimated.

To mark the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against women, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is launching a video-clip to speak out and draw attention to the fact that rape needs to be seriously addressed by authorities in terms of access to justice, prevention and support to victims. The video clip is part of the joint EWL-Council of Europe (CoE) project to promote the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (also known as the Istanbul Convention) as a tool for change. The video-clip will be available on Monday 25th here.

The project consists of a series of events and actions aiming at mobilisation across Europe under the common slogan “Act against rape! Use the Istanbul Convention!”. In more than 30 countries, during the 16 days of activism against violence against women 2013 (25 November-10 December), EWL members and experts will debate with governments to promote the signature, ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention, and to call for justice and support for victims of rape. All the information of the events and the video-clip can be found on the dedicated section of the EWL website.

As the video-clip illustrates, the Istanbul Convention obliges States which have ratified it to improve their legislation (notably moving away from a definition of rape based on the use of physical force towards a definition based on the lack of consent); to improve their data collection systems; to facilitate access to justice for victims; to promote measures for prevention; and to ensure services and support for women victims, including migrant and refugee women.

The recent EWL Barometer on Rape in Europe shows that official data on rape and sexual violence against women is practically inexistent and studies on the prevalence of violence against women are generally very weak on sexual violence. Rape is a crime and a serious violation of women bodily integrity and sexual autonomy”, says Colette De Troy, Director of the EWL Observatory on Violence against Women.

Many aspect of public policies and legislation are completely inadequate with regards to rape in European countries, for example the fact that l, there are little or no services for women victims of rape in most European countries. The ratification and full implementation of the Istanbul Convention by all European countries and by the European Union itself is imperative”, says Cécile Greboval, Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby.

Some facts and figures on rape in Europe:

• In the Czech Republic, one to two rapes per day are officially recorded – it is assumed that rape is reported in only 8% of the cases (and rape occurring in the context of family and partnership is reported only in 3% of cases).

• In Denmark, the Crime Prevention Council in Denmark makes statistics based on data from the rape centres and the police. They estimate that: 2000 rapes are committed in Denmark every year; 500 cases are reported to the police; in 300 cases the charges are brought and in 150 cases there is a conviction.

• In France, official surveys show that 198,000 women between 18-59 years old are victims of actual rape or attempted rape (2005-2006 CVS by INSEE-OND). In this country, 205 women are RAPED every day, only 2% of perpetrators are condemned, only 1 victim out of 10 will report to the police, 74% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows (www.contreleviol.frwww.contr...).

• In the Netherlands, a recent study (2012) revealed that 15% of the women aged between 25-70 and 8% of the women aged between 15-24 were raped at least once in their lives.


For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact:

  • Elvira Buijink, EWL Media and Communication Officer -buijink@womenlobby.org -+32 02/210 04 40
  • Irene Rosales, EWL Project Assistant- rosales@womenlobby.org +32 02/210 04 43
  • Colette De Troy, Director of the EWL Observatory against violence against women – detroy@womenlobby.org - (+32) 02/210 04 24
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European conference in Milan to debate prostitution and human rights / Conferenza europea a Milano per discutere su prostituzione e diritti

Posted on 21 March 2014

European conference in Milan to debate prostitution and human rights

[Brussels and Milan, 21 March 2014] LEF Italia (Il Coordinamento Italiano della Lobby Europea delle Donne) and the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest coalition of women’s NGOs in Europe, will on 21 March host a European conference on “Prostitution and human rights: ending violence against women in Europe” in Milan. The conference aims at bringing the issues of prostitution and trafficking in women and girls on the political agenda of Italy, and involving decision-makers in reflecting on possible ways forward to address the growing sex industry and exploitation of women and girls in Italy from a women’s human rights perspective.

Hosted by the European Parliament Office in the framework of a series of events on “Europe is for women”, the event takes place three weeks after a historic vote by the European Parliament of a resolution on “Prostitution, sexual exploitation and its impact on gender equality”. Adopted on 26 February, the resolution clearly states that prostitution is a violation of human dignity and contrary to human rights principles, “therefore contrary to the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the goal and the principle of gender equality”.

While Europol has recently stated that the legalization of prostitution leads to an increase of trafficking, many EU countries are looking at the Nordic model to address the links between prostitution and trafficking in women and girls. Last December, the French National Assembly adopted a proposal of law which would bring the Nordic model to France. Two weeks ago, the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade issued its report “Shifting the burden”, calling for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, while protecting persons in prostitution and providing them exit programmes.

The conference therefore comes at a timely moment to discuss possible ways forward in terms of policies and actions. The conference will bring parliamentarians, experts and NGOs from France, Germany and Italy: Maud Olivier, member of the French National Assembly and rapporteur of the proposal of law on prostitution; Beatrice Mariotti, member of the German NGO Solwodi; Esohe Aghatise, founder of Associazione IROKO Onlus; Pierrette Pape, Acting Coordinator of the European Women’s Lobby; Oria Gargano, expert to the EWL Observatory on violence against women; Resistenza Femminista. The organisers have invited several Members of the European Parliament to join too.

LEF Italia and the European Women’s Lobby hold that prostitution is a form of violence against women which hinders the realisation of equality between women and men, and that the EU and its Member States should develop comprehensive strategies on ending violence against women and prostitution, and promoting women’s human rights. “It is not surprising that the lack of EU and national policies on prostitution has led to an increase in procuring and fuels trafficking in women into Europe for sexual purposes and sex tourism”, explains Siusi Casaccia, President of LEF Italia and EWL Board member. “In order to ambitiously realise women’s human rights, the EU and its Member States, including Italy, must uppermost support persons in prostitution, and tackle procuring and the demand side of the phenomenon through awareness raising, education to equality and effective sanctions to prostitute-users and procurers.”

The event is part of the EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, which benefit from the support of more than 50 Members of the European Parliament. The EWL initiated the Brussels’ Call, an abolitionist manifesto on prostitution, which has been signed by more than 200 NGOs from all over Europe.


For further information, please contact:

At the European Women’s Lobby:

• In Brussels: Ms Elvira Buijink, EWL Communications and Media Officer, Tel: (32) 02.210.04.40, buijink@womenlobby.org, www.womenlobby.org

• In Milan on 21 March: Ms Pierrette Pape, EWL Acting Coordinator, Tel: +32 486 39 17 17

• In Milan on 21 March: Siusi Casaccia, President of LEF Italia, Tel: +39.3356670754 / Maria Ludovica Bottarelli Tranquilli Leali, Secretary General of LEF Italia, Tel: +39 3386580531



Conferenza europea a Milano per discutere su prostituzione e diritti umani

[Bruxelles Milano, 21 marzo 2014] LEF Italia (Il Coordinamento Italiano della Lobby Europea delle Donne) e la Lobby Europea delle Donne (EWL), la più grande coalizione di ONG di donne in Europa, sarà il 21 marzo ospite a una conferenza “europea” sul tema "Prostituzione e dei diritti umani: basta alla violenza contro le donne in Europa "a Milano. La conferenza mira a portare i temi della prostituzione e del traffico di donne e ragazze all’interno dell’agenda politica italiana, conducendo i decisori a riflettere sulle possibili vie da percorrere per affrontare la crescente industria del sesso e lo sfruttamento di donne e ragazze in Italia da una prospettiva dei diritti umani delle donne.

Ospitata dall’Ufficio del Parlamento Europeo di Milano, nel quadro di una serie di eventi sul tema "L’Europa è per le donne", la manifestazione si svolge tre settimane dopo un voto storico, da parte del Parlamento Europeo, di una risoluzione su "La prostituzione, lo sfruttamento sessuale e il suo impatto sull’uguaglianza di genere". La risoluzione, adottata il 26 febbraio, afferma chiaramente che la prostituzione è una violazione della dignità umana ed è contraria ai principi dei diritti umani ", quindi in contrasto con i principi della Carta dei Diritti Fondamentali dell’Unione Europea, tra cui l’obiettivo e il principio della parità di genere ".

While Europol ha recentemente dichiarato che la legalizzazione della prostituzione porta ad un aumento del traffico[6], molti paesi dell’UE stanno esaminando la possibilità di adottare il modello nordico per affrontare i legami tra prostituzione e traffico di donne e bambine. Lo scorso dicembre, l’Assemblea nazionale francese ha adottato una proposta di legge che porterebbe il modello nordico in Francia. Due settimane fa, il gruppo parlamentare del Regno Unito All-Party Parliamentary Group sulla prostituzione e il Global Sex Trade hanno emesso il loro rapporto "inversione dell’onere", chiedendo la criminalizzazione dell’acquisto di sesso, proteggendo le persone vittime della prostituzione e fornendo loro programmi di uscita.

La conferenza arriva quindi in un momento opportuno per discutere le possibili soluzioni in termini di politiche e azioni. La conferenza riunirà parlamentari, esperti e ONG provenienti da Francia, Germania e Italia: Maud Olivier, membro dell’Assemblea nazionale francese e relatore della proposta di legge sulla prostituzione, Beatrice Mariotti, membro della ONG tedesca Solwodi, Esohe Aghatise, fondatrice dell’ Associazione Iroko Onlus, Pierrette Pape, Vice Coordinatore della Lobby Europea delle Donne, Oria Gargano, esperto per l’Osservatorio EWL sulla Violenza Contro le Donne; Resistenza Femminista. Gli organizzatori hanno anche invitato diversi membri del Parlamento Europeo ad aderire.

LEF Italia e la Lobby Europea delle Donne ritengono che la prostituzione sia una forma di violenza contro le donne, essa ostacola la realizzazione della parità tra donne e uomini, l’UE e i suoi Stati membri dovrebbero sviluppare strategie globali per porre fine alla violenza contro le donne e quindi alla prostituzione, implementando la promozione dei diritti umani delle donne. "Non è sorprendente che la mancanza di politiche europee e nazionali in materia di prostituzione abbia portato ad un aumento nell’acquisizione e nell’aver infiammato la tratta delle donne in Europa a fini sessuali e del turismo sessuale", spiega Siusi Casaccia, presidente della LEF Italia e membro del consiglio della EWL. "Al fine di realizzare i diritti umani delle donne, l’UE ei suoi Stati membri, compresa l’Italia, devono dare il maggiore sostegno persone nella lotta alla prostituzione e devono affrontare l’ingaggio e la domanda del fenomeno attraverso la sensibilizzazione, l’educazione all’uguaglianza e sanzioni efficaci a utenti e committenti della prostituzione.”

L’evento è parte della Campagna ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, che beneficia del supporto di oltre 50 Membri del Parlamento Europeo. La EWL ha avviato Brussels’ Call, un manifesto abolizionista sulla prostituzione, che è stata firmata da più di 200 organizzazioni non governative provenienti da tutta Europa.


Per maggiori informazioni, contattare:

Alla European Women’s Lobby:

• A Bruxelles: Ms Elvira Buijink, Responsabile Comunicazioni e Ufficio Stampa EWL, Tel: (32) 02.210.04.40, buijink@womenlobby.org, www.womenlobby.org

• A Milano il 21 marzo: sig.ra Pierrette Pape, Coordinatore EWL, Tel: +32 486 39 17 17

• A Milano il 21 March: sig.ra Siusi Casaccia, presidente della LEF Italia, Tel: +39.3356670754 / sig.ra Maria Ludovica Bottarelli Tranquilli Leali, Segretaria Generale del LEF Italia, Tel: +39 3386580531

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