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2017 European Year of focused action to fight violence against women: will the EU walk the talk?

This year’s celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of violence against women is marked by two instrumental political initiatives at EU level. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) warmly welcomes both the European Commission’s decision to dedicate 2017 to combating violence against women, and the European Parliament’s resolution calling for the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention.

“We congratulate EU Commissioner Jourova for her strong commitment to put an end to the most widespread violation of women’s human rights in the EU. We hope that the Year of focused action will foster the EU member states to develop concrete actions to combat all forms of violence against women and girls.”, says Edith Schratzberger-Vécsei, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

In parallel, the European Parliament’s resolution on the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention has been voted by an overwhelming majority of MEPs from a wide cross-party political spectrum. It calls on the Member States, in the framework of the Council, to speed up the negotiations for the signing and conclusion of the Istanbul Convention. The European Parliament calls as well for a EU strategy on combatting violence against women and for further legislative action at EU level to prevent and combat violence against women.

“The European Parliament’s resolution sends a strong message that it is time for the EU to walk the talk when it comes to violence against women. Together with our 2000 members, and with the European coalition that we have initiated and which gathers more than 25 European networks, we will actively watch out for concrete steps during 2017, especially for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU and all Member States”, says Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

These two landmark initiatives come one week after the meeting of the European Women’s Lobby Observatory on violence against women. Bringing together more than 30 experts, professionals, women’s rights defenders, front-line NGOs activists, from all over Europe, and with outstanding experience and expertise in different forms of male violence against women, the EWL Observatory has been advising the EWL for the last 20 years about the reality of violence against women in the EU.

“Yesterday’s EU developments should at last bring a solution to a European issue: women are not equally protected from male violence in Europe, and impunity still prevails. The ratification by the EU will send a strong political signal that violence against women is not acceptable anymore. EU Member States should ensure that the EU ratification is done as soon as possible, in the broadest way and without reservations”, says Irene Rosales, EWL Policy and Campaigns Officer on violence against women.

Facts and figures:

  • In Europe, 50 women die every week from male domestic violence [1].
  • 95% of all acts of violence taking place within the home are against women [2].
  • One in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15 [3].
  • Every second woman has been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment [4].
  • 75 % of women in top management positions have experienced sexual harassment at work [5].
  • As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, still birth and abortion [6].
  • Violence against women costs 226 billion euros each year, which represent almost 2 % of the annual EU budget [7].
  • Prevention campaigns on sexual violence were launched in only 11 of 28 EU Member States in the past five years [8].
  • The majority of EU Member States still have an inadequate definition of rape focusing on proving the use of force rather than the lack of consent and offering inadequate protection for women against sexual violence [9].
  • Victim-blaming in cases of sexual violence or rape is still very high in Europe [10].

For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact Elvira Buijink, Communications and Media Officer, European Women’s Lobby; Tel: +32 2210 04 40;, and see
For more information on EWL work on violence against women, please contact Irene Rosales, EWL Policy and Campaigns Officer ; Tel: +32 2 210 04 29;

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 of the candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations.

The EWL Observatory on Violence against women is an outstanding and unique structure in Europe and a key player on the issue of violence against women at European level, counting with almost 20 years of experience. The EWL Observatory brings together a dynamic group of women (professionals, women’s rights defenders, front-line NGOs activists, etc.) with high experience and expertise on the issue violence against women from all the EU countries in Europe and from EU wide organisations working on violence against women.

The European Coalition to End violence against women and girls, convened by the European Women’s Lobby, is a strategic alliance of more 25 European NGOs and civil society networks in Europe that address the issue of violence against women from different angles, that have joined their forces to advocate together for the signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU and all Member States and for a meaningful EU year of focused actions against violence against women.

[1Psytel, Estimation de la mortalité liée aux violences conjugales en Europe, Programme Daphne III.

[3Fundamental Rights Agency Survey on Violence against women in 2014.

[4Fundamental Rights Agency Survey on Violence against women in 2014.

[5Fundamental Rights Agency Survey on Violence against women in 2014.

[6UNIFEM 2011

[7European Institute for Gender Equality (2014), Estimating the costs of gender-based violence in the European Union.

[8European Institute for Gender Equality (2014), Study to identify and map existing data and resources on sexual violence against women in the EU.

[9European Women’s Lobby (2013), Barometer on rape in the EU.

[10European Women’s Lobby (2013), Barometer on rape in the EU.

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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